iTunes link
Link to download Blood & Laurels for the iPad.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page

Blood & Laurels

by Emily Short profile


Web Site

About the Story

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.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 1
License: Commercial
Development System: Versu
Forgiveness Rating: Tough
IFID: Unknown
TUID: ivtfrko6hxfr13b6

Off-Site Reviews


The tale here is one of choosing how to act in the face of an unalterable destiny, and not one of how actions can come to affect oneself, and others—at least not in ways beyond, you know, blushing profusely, or being poisoned. Blood & Laurels is a cunning bit of Ancient Roman pulp, with a few fair things to say about notions of power and responsibility, though with little follow-through. Rather, the greatest theme here is fate, that of both Marcus and, by extension, the reader.
See the full review

Short is clearly having fun in her vision of the Roman Empire. It’s full of lovingly-described feasts, whispered conspiracies, oracles and spirits–it is exactly what you want a story of intrigue set in Ancient Rome to be. The characters–the stars of the show–are vivid and memorable. Romancing them might not be the most interesting part of Blood and Laurels, but I very much enjoyed meeting all of them and navigating my way through their conspiracy.
See the full review

Shelf Control, AppAdvice
Forge Your Own 'Game Of Thrones'-Like Story With Blood & Laurels For iPad
How about that “Game of Thrones” season finale, huh? If you can’t get enough of the kind of thrill and intrigue that the wildly watched TV series affords, then you might want to take a stab at a recently released app that is the subject of this week’s Shelf Control: the iPad interactive fiction app Blood & Laurels.
See the full review

Mobile Game Place
This interactive story is actually extremely good and I for one have not be able to get enough of it. The main thing I love about this game is how unique each playthrough can be where each choice will greatly affect various aspects of the story along with letting you uncover various secrets going on in Rome. Each character will even act dynamically to the player depending on past events, so you can decide who you want as a friend, who your enemies will be, and even decide on who you want to bump uglies with.
See the full review

Blood & Laurels, you see, will help you remember what a brilliant thing reading is and, should you already be an admirer of words, show you what interactive text can accomplish. Emily Short and Richard Evans have managed to create an excellently written and richly illustrated choose-your-own-adventure of sorts that feels both theatrical and revolutionary.
See the full review

Versu stories often come quite close to reaching a kind of… a level of verisimilitude or performance that I think was previously just imaginary. But in doing so, the little things, the small flaws, stand out in a way in which they are forgiven in other work.
See the full review

Renga in Blue
The plot and writing are spectacular; this is some of Emily Short’s finest work. I say this not only to indicate you should totally buy this if you can (it’s only on iPad on the moment, unfortunately) but also because I’m about to spend the rest of this review grousing about the Versu system itself and I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.
See the full review


It’s an interesting direction to take interactive fiction in, ensuring that one feels more in control than simply choosing from two arbitrary options. At times it’s a little staid given the visuals are very much focused on text with a small mixture of illustrations included, but for avid readers that’s hardly going to be a problem.

In terms of sheer content, Blood & Laurels easily feels worth the asking price for those keen to explore a slightly different world than what interactive fiction ordinarily offers.
See the full review


The future of reading is in ancient Rome. Blood & Laurels is an interactive storybook written by Emily Short that uses the Versu platform, which allows it to go far beyond the branching decision tree of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Play as Marcus, patron poet of Artus. Move through an immense world by making constant dynamic choices, which allow you to exchange dialogue, shoot subtle body language cues at other characters, observe the settings around you, and even eat the olives laid out on a banquet table. It's an incredibly rich experience, and I'm told a single playthrough will result in less than 20% of the available storyline being revealed.
See the full review

Written by prolific IF author Emily Short, Blood & Laurels feels like a piece of theatre as the play is found in the conversation between its actors.
See the full review

The New York Times
Blood & Laurels made me feel more like an improviser than a reader, someone who was asked to perform a role in a troupe, responding to the unpredictable decisions of my fellow actors, who in turn had to adjust to my decisions. Remarkably, when I replayed the game, I didn’t feel that Marcus had become a different character when he decided to, say, betray Artus rather than execute his commands. Instead, it seemed that I was just learning how he might behave differently under the vagaries of circumstance... What Blood & Laurels offers is one of those quintessential video game moments, a first glimpse at something on the horizon.
See the full review

Page Update History

  v.5: 07-Jul-2014 09:27 - Emily Short (Current Version) - Edit Page - Normal View
Changed external review links
v.4: 24-Jun-2014 09:02 - Emily Short
Changed external review links
v.3: 12-Jun-2014 04:40 - Emily Short
Changed download links
v.2: 06-Jun-2014 08:44 - Emily Short
Changed Web site URL
v.1: 03-Jun-2014 12:20 - Emily Short
Created page