Following the announcement that a deal had been reached which allows Versu, the interactive fiction engine, to continue after Linden Lab had discontinued it in February, comes the news that, as promised, the much-anticipated Blood & Laurels is now available.
As I noted in my report on Versu’s return, Blood & Laurels is the first title to be released under the new Versu banner, and will be followed in the near future by Bramble House by Jake T. Forbes.
New Versu titles will, for the forseeable future only be available on the iOS operating system and focused on the iPad. As the Versu team has noted, while they would like to have an Android version, resources are such that right now that it just isn’t possible.
So what is Blood and Laurels about? The slip notes provide an overview:
It’s the eight hundred and twenty-first year of the city of Rome, a year of bad omens and unrest. The Emperor is bloodthirsty and watches keenly for anyone who might be trying to overthrow him. The grain dole is running out and the people are going hungry. Romans are beginning to put their faith in foreign cults, as their old gods seem indifferent.
In this dangerous environment, Marcus is concerned with two things: his poetry, and keeping his patron Artus happy. But when Artus sends him to ask a secret question of an oracle, Marcus is forced to get involved, with conspiracies, politics, and a woman he is trying to forget.
Blood & Laurels offers dozens of outcomes for Marcus, his friends, his enemies, and Rome itself. The choices you make for him will decide not only how he ends up, but what kind of man he is when he reaches the end.
Blood & Laurels might best be described as a piece of theatre; play is heavily influenced by the evolving conversations as much as by the actions of the protagonist, Marcus the Cowardly (that’s you, by the way, should play the game). As Marcus, you have to steer your way through the complex situations which develop around you, some of which are a direct result of your actions and words, while others may be the result of things you perhaps didn’t do or say earlier in the game. Your interactions with other characters (and their interactions with each other) can be reflected in the changing expressions on their little portraits. In keeping with most intrigue in life, few things go unnoticed and repercussions can be positive or negative.
The complexity of Blood & Laurels is staggering: 240,000 words of interactive content, a branched, two-part storyline and a large cast of dynamic characters. All of this adds up to a piece in which a player is only likely to encounter around 7% of the content in any given play through.
Alongside of the launch, the Versu team also issued a teaser video of movie-like quality and presence.
Blood & Laurels can be purchased from the App Store for $2.99 / £1.99.
Note that Emily Short of the Versu team, and the creator of Blood & Laurels, will be featured in a Drax Files Radio Hour interview on Friday June 13th. Also, coverage of the “new” Versu and Versu titles in this blog can now be found under the Versu category or via the menus: Pey’s Travelogues > Other Worlds > Versu.