You Should Play VESPER.5

I started playing Michael Brough’s VESPER.5 yesterday when it came out. It’s a turn-based exploration game (so far) in which you can only take one turn a day. Your little guru/monk guy rises, moves a space of your choosing, then settles back down. To this point I’ve moved up twice because I was interested in the weird bump shapes at the top of the screen and wondered if the view would scroll when I got up there. It didn’t, leading to one of the more obviously interesting elements of the game: regrets. Now I’ve “wasted” two upward moves when the level design (and game convention more generally) more or less shouts that you should go off to the right. On the other hand, the slowness of the game confers a deeper sense of ownership of your play, such that my two moves upward feel very meant, and thus at least a little less regrettable in that way. The other obvious element is of course wondering what’s ahead, but not being able to rush into it. It’s certainly increased my interest in what might be on the screen to the right, while also allowing me to maintain a sort of inner peace about it. In fact, one of the nicest elements of the game is that after your move, you can just watch the screen – perhaps a weird little two-pixel butterfly is flying around your monk, say – and it’s quite peaceful. The only false note for me here is that the game flashes “ESC” at me if I just sit there meditating with my monk for as little as five seconds – a missed opportunity, perhaps, to let people sit with their choice.

14 August 2012
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