Vesper.5 is Still Alive

My goodness, I am still playing Michael Brough’s Vesper.5. I have to admit that in the midst of moving from Denmark to Malta, and to an apartment within Malta, I’ve missed a few turns despite having it pop up in my todo list every day. Nonetheless, I’m making “progress” in the game. So, a couple more thoughts.

1/ I seem to be in the minority, but I really dislike the replay that takes place before you take your turn each day. Unfortunately, because I’ve pretty much always disliked it, it just gets worse and worse because it takes longer and longer. For me, it just isn’t serving a purpose that I can get together with. I remember where I’ve been – it was my own little life in there, after all – and vaguely resent being shown everything again. I suppose it might be a time for reflecting on the path not chosen and so on, but I feel like the game is very much (again, for me) about having the courage of your convictions as you move onward, so past choices seem irrelevant to me.

2/ I’ve been playing somewhat “subversively” the entire time, I suppose, in that I’ve avoided everything that looks like it might be interactive. It’s probably not much of a spoiler at this point to say that as you move along you see things like colourful plants or more abstract shapes, and that you could walk onto them and perhaps have some outcome. I wouldn’t know what happens because I’ve not touched them, and people have been impressively careful about not disclosing their effects online (nor have I looked for spoilers, mind you). Not touching anything has been part of a kind of “ascetic” roleplay or something – part of the ritual aspect of the game. It feels pleasingly rigorous and self-denying to not even indulge in interactivity in a game which lets you take only a single turn a day. It feels a tiny bit virtuous in a kind of deliciously wrong way, if you know what I mean.

3/ The game’s essential linearity from left to right feels more and more like a missed opportunity, perhaps. I think that maybe I would be more questioning of my decisions if it had been possible to go in several directions early on, say, or if there had been some vertical branches along the way beyond those that simply join together. Again, you can’t have everything, and it may be that this happens later on, but I miss the potential interest of the combination of an open world with the turn-a-day dynamic. If you’re going to emphasise the significance of individual actions, then I wonder if more agency, even just spatial, might be a good idea.

That’s it. It remains one of my favourite games of the year. I’m still playing with no plans to stop unless the game ends (imagine if it were procedural and never ended! Oh my! A life-long game, then). I’m torn about whether I’d replay and interact with things a second time, or whether I’d accept the one playing as my life in there. I’m more and more interested in that as an approach playing games, frankly. So we’ll see.

Over and out.

15 October 2012
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