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Blood & Laurels

by Emily Short profile


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(based on 3 ratings)
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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


Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2014 XYZZY Awards


After a near-death experience or two, Blood & Laurels is now available for download.
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Editorial 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Blood & Laurels on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Blood & Laurels appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Technically advanced IFs by doppioslash
IFs that use bleeding edge programming techniques to generate the story/writing

Active Non-player Characters by Emily Short
Games which make use of non-player characters that have a great deal of independence, often moving around and acting on their own, or taking the lead in conversation. Some of these are more successful than others, but all are likely to...


The following polls include votes for Blood & Laurels:

For Your Consideration: Games from 2014 that should be nominated for the XYZZY Awards by Molly
There were a lot of great games released in the past year, and now that the XYZZYs are coming up, it seems like a very good idea to take a poll of all the games from last year people would like to see nominated. The management has asked...

This is version 5 of this page, edited by Emily Short on 7 July 2014 at 9:27am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page