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vespers.z8
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For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
vespers.inf
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Vespers

by Jason Devlin

Historical/Religious
2005

(based on 115 ratings)
7 member reviews

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 2860
IFIDs:  ZCODE-1-050929-F8AB
ZCODE-1-051128-B5AA
TUID: 6dj2vguyiagrhvc2

Awards

1st Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2005)

Winner, Best Game; Winner, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2005 XYZZY Awards

10th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2011 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Emily Short's Interactive Fction
What I found most interesting about Vespers was its construction, its success at arranging events and making characters take action; it has a lot of plot, but avoids the excessively linear feel of many high-plot-content games.
See the full review

The Escapist
Set in a 15th century monastery beset by the plague, Vespers follows an abbot driven increasingly insane as he watches his feverish monks perish one by one. It's a nauseating, deeply frightening game, like survival/horror without the survival part, and it clings to me like a bad nightmare I can't shake. I'm thoroughly grossed out by it, physically, emotionally and morally.

Vespers is one of the best games I've ever played, text-based or no.
-- Lara Crigger
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Ferretbrain
Vespers is strong on atmosphere, very strong on atmosphere. It is told over three days, with the monastery becoming slowly creepier and more oppressive as time goes on. Descriptions change in subtle – and not so subtle – ways as the plot progresses (and, I think, in response to player action – if you play as a raving nutbag things get rather more messed up rather more quickly).
-- Dan Hemmens
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Gaming Enthusiast
A truly horrifying, but thought-provoking experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on the player. If you’re not afraid of the darkness in human hearts, be sure to check Vespers out.
-- Toddziak
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SPAG
It has numerous strengths, but I think the most important is how well paced it is. The introduction slopes in gradually, and while I generally like to have some idea of what I should be accomplishing from the very beginning, here the more leisurely approach worked well - knowing that plague was loose and the monastery was locked in made things more interesting than the standard wander-corridors-until-something-happens opening, and front-loading much of the exploration allowed later sequences to play out tauter, since the player knows exactly where everything is. The number of NPCs is initially a little overwhelming, but the author does a very good job of giving each of them a distinctive feature, so that the player soon remembers which is the crazy one, which is the terse, practical one, and so on.
-- Michael A Russo
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(45)
4 star:
(49)
3 star:
(13)
2 star:
(8)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 7
Write a review


Most Helpful Member Reviews


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Haunting, memorable, January 17, 2008
by incandenza (carrboro, north carolina)
I still think about Vespers nearly a year and a half after first playing through it. In the game you are a monk in charge of a monastery during the plague years of Europe. The nearby town has succumbed to disease, and the abbey is the last available refuge. The game takes place over a few days as the plague begins to infiltrate this remaining sanctuary. Dark secrets are uncovered, and the abbey itself is one of the strongest and most dynamic characters in the game. Though not for the faint of heart, or those who are easily offended by violence or religious questioning, the sense of place, immersive character, and interesting NPCs make this one of my favorite IF works.

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Apocalypse a Few Centuries Ago, July 2, 2008
by C.E.J. Pacian (England)
As a hypochondriac, I stopped playing Vespers as soon as I read the word 'plague'. And then, a few days later, I started playing it again. Something about its atmospheric depiction of an abbey barricaded against the Black Death drew me back, not because it was pleasant, but because it was quite thoroughly sinister.

Another thing that quickly had me hooked me was the way Vespers starts out as a medieval detective story. Alongside the plague, murder has come to the abbey, not to mention a mysterious waif and stray, and the monks are all acting strangely - among them the player character. As things progress, Vespers only becomes darker and more sinister, something that I would normally expect to repel me - but this carefully constructed rendition of apocalyptic Dark Age sentiments kept me hooked until, naturally enough, the detective portion gives way to a set of uncomfortable decisions - some of which you will have already made before you realise their portent.

This kind of IF game, where you must explore a world and form a moral reaction, has obviously been done before, most notably in Slouching Towards Bedlam. But whereas in that game I found myself having to refer to the hints to get the least thing done, my experience with Vespers flowed quite nicely towards its dramatic and nihilistic conclusion.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Heed the Disclaimer, December 1, 2013
by streever (America)
This game presents a muddled and incorrect theological perspective, that isn't particularly illuminating or enlightening. This leads to the only flaws in an otherwise well-written and engaging experience.

The shoddy theology makes it hard to recognize your choices as such, but the game makes great use of your choices, so it is frustrating that the developers limited understanding of Christian theology provides some inconsistent and illogical implementation. I recommend saving and using restore/undo as needed.

The actual mechanics of this game are fairly brilliant, and the writing is excellent. There are a few minor bugs (characters aware of events that haven't happened yet), but you can avoid them--and improve the overall experience--by restricting yourself to using "talk to character" instead of the more open-ended "ask".

Some of the puzzles are quite clever, and almost all of them involve multiple outcomes. Keep this in mind as you play; you are not restricted to the most obvious solutions. In this, the game does get closer to a proper Christian theology, although it still misunderstands the significance of this decision.

I enjoyed this game quite a bit and think it is well-done. Yes, there is some unsettling imagery, but I would rate it as "less disturbing than CSI".

See All 7 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

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Good games by Simon Deimel
This is a list of games that affected me. Their contents had a certain impact on me and kept my mind busy even some time after I had finished playing.

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Games I'd think she'd enjoy.

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Vespers:

Christianity in IF by Bainespal
Sam Kabo Ashwell's statement in his recent review of Cana According to Micah that "the best works dealing prominently with Christian themes are written by non-Christians" made me curious. Perhaps a list of games with serious Christian...

What are your favorite games? by Christopher Caesar
I was wondering which games are worth playing, as I haven't found any games that take a while to complete that are worth playing

Creepy Games by J'onn Roger
I'm not looking for supernatural/ghost stories or horror stories, just games that do a good job being scary and/or disturbing.

See all polls with votes for this game

Links




This is version 5 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 22 September 2013 at 10:53am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item