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night confessional

by sweetfish profile


Web Site

(based on 8 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story


It was several years before the abolition of the papacy that coin-operated confessionals began to populate the cities.

An interactive fiction piece about a confession booth at the end of the year.

Made for ShuffleComp 2023
Click, tap, or press space/return to advance text
Has sound ♪

Game Details


2nd Place, Game Goodness; 7th Place, Use of songs - ShuffleComp 2023


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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Is anyone listening?, January 24, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Shufflecomp 2023

"...the new confessionals proliferated. They assign penance through complex and unknowable mechanisms, utilizing the latest advancements in computational theology. To many, confession whispered through a handset feels closer to God. Machines, after all, are humanity's bridge to the divine."

Really liked this game. Intimate, heartfelt, and true to life. Quite beautiful too.

The concept of coin-operated confessional booth is wonderful. It's the unity of man, machine, and divinity that gets me, the idea of God living in the wires and responding, in God's unknowable way, to what you have to say. And I love the concept of anonymous messages whispered in the dark, where you don't know who or what will ever hear you. Messages offered to anyone out there, if anyone's there at all.

It reminds me of websites out there where you can read anonymously-sourced confessions (https://loneliness.one/confession and https://postsecret.com/ come to mind, though a brief web search reveals dozens of sites like them). An alt-universe Internet, of sorts.

I thought you might be playing as someone offering a confession to one of these booths, but you're actually playing as the machine. Which is a killer concept, cherry on the cake really. There's only a limited amount of interaction you're allowed with people, because you can only interface with them through the machine. They can confess their deepest, darkest secrets to you and your only way to respond is through the perfectly mechanical choice of whether you accept the confession or not, and if you do, how many Our Fathers and Hail Marys you assign to them. You can't respond, you can't comfort or criticize them, you can't let them know you're there, even though you are. Yet the confession is only given because the interaction is so mechanical and impersonal that it's almost like nobody is there at all.

I'm also a fan of the setting: an alternate world much like our own, with comparable technology but a new history and new countries that imply a beautifully strange world beyond the confines of the tiny place we see. Reminds me of Disco Elysium a bit. And I gotta mention the sound and visual design, which sells the "just another night in a strange city almost but not quite like our own" ambiance. You see the city sleep, and you see it wake up again. Incredibly immersive. This game is great.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A strong story about a coin-operated confessional, January 22, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

In this Shufflecomp game, you play in an alternate reality where the Catholic church has eliminated both priests and Pope and has gone to use coin operated confessional booths that are resolved by computer.

Except you are 'computer' in this case. It is your job to absolve others.

The aesthetics of the game, both video and audio, are very well done, restrained but effective.

The writing is evocative and clear.

I only wish the scenarios had been a bit more daring. Few if any of the characters had done truly wrong, almost as if the game is about moral greyness, the lack of a need for confession.

But everyone knows someone who has done another wrong. Truly wrong. What about confession and absolution in those cases? There can be no forgiveness if there was no wrong. No reconciliation if there was no separation. The elimination of true regret and punishment is also an elimination of true happiness and redemption. So to see such a case would have been interesting...

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When hotlines meet confessions., January 16, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: shufflecomp

I feel like this kind of system sort of exists in real life, with phone lines open to let you scream in the void or whisper your darkest secrets, or many virtual confession booths on the internet. Yet, I'd never considered an actual religious confession booth, absolution and penance included.

There is something eery and creepy about those booth, almost inhuman. Being able to listen to people's secrets, fears and wishes - only to give some sort of automated response in return. To have on the other side one of the most human and touching thing: bearing your heart to strangers. And the inherent wish to connect with others, even through a hotline leading to nowhere.
Each snippet has a heart and scars. It's beautifully tragic, in a way...

In our age of automated process and AI replacing employees, it is not so far fetched to think priests could lose part of their job too to the almighty algorithm (also funny to play as an algo priest) - there are probably very few positions safe from our robots overlords... Though it is interested how it even rendered the whole catholic/christian system obsolete - to the point the Pope resigned!

This was strange. I liked it.

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This is version 4 of this page, edited by sweetfish on 1 February 2024 at 9:26pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page