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by G.C. "Grim" Baccaris (as G. Grimoire) profile

Episode 1 of Sacred Tides series

Web Site

(based on 20 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

The high priest of an obscure cult is preparing a ritual. Don the priestís sacred mantle, for these holy labors are yours to direct. You may carve a votive, lead a prayer, or make a sacrifice ó but you must see to the task with care. Unearthly eyes gaze down upon you from the sea above. Will your devotion reach them?

Does it matter?

Game Details


Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2018 XYZZY Awards

20th Place (tie) - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)

Editorial Reviews

These Heterogenous Tasks

Music, darkness, melancholy, the unknowably alien, and the space to absorb them. Thatís the mood which Devotionalia is after, and it skewers it like a moth on a specimen-board.
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The Breakfast Review
The piece seems to be about the nature of religious devotion. The unfamiliarity of the story's deity and cosmology serves to isolate the acts of prayer and sacrament so that they can be looked at without our own beliefs getting in the way. There's a lot here that's really worth contemplating.

As a breakfast, I think it's rice congee with a firm, white fish, topped with flakes of crispy fried onions and fresh chives. It has an ascetic look, but threads of ginger and sesame oil boiled in with the rice make it surprisingly flavourful. And then, piping hot green tea.
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McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews

In a way, this game reminds me of the works of Chandler Groover and Phantom Williams. It has a similar rich aesthetic. A surreal, haunting feel. A sense that thereís more hidden below the surface. [...] The interface matches the ambition of the prose. The music is atmospheric and appropriate. The aesthetics of the design are completely aligned to the game experience.

Itís something a little bit special, this.
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The pensive mood of the game supports its plot. The author handles the alien details of the world well, showing rather than telling and focusing on the story rather than belaboring the setting details. Itís a much more original setting and plot than most games have, and the author provides just enough details to make it comprehensible but still mysterious, befitting the priestís uncertainty about his gods.
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It mostly does one thing, which is Ďan evocative, doomed setting of a cultist tending to a dying ritualí, but it does that one thing very, very well. The music and design choices heighten the experience; itís probably one of the most slickly-produced games this year.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Thoughtful, emotional reflections on death, loneliness, and creativity, September 14, 2019
by Greg Buchanan (United Kingdom)

"You have devoted your life to a god whose voice you have never heard"

In Devotionalia, you play as the most senior priest of a dying cult, far from civilization and any human interaction beyond the lost children you foster as acolytes. It depicts the thankless, daily, forgotten tasks of a decaying mental universe -- crucially, it does so in an incredibly empathetic and emotional way. Even as we make choices on behalf of the priest, we are invited to establish our sympathy with them and an understanding of their world-view beyond the specific lore and ritualistic practices of the game.

Even in the most Lovecraftian, rich descriptions of arcane deities and strange beings, the prose's focus is upon how it might feel to emotionally live within such a world. The old age of gods and religion is, in many ways, our own, despite our late-expressed belief that we are "young". The children we care for think us "ancient", and perhaps for good reason. Our character does not only worship a god, but commits a profound -- almost heretical, although the narrative does not reflect on this overtly -- act of empathy with one: we think of the "pain of godliness". And our own devotion, as the Twine makes clear with its synonyms, just as easily resolves as "desperation".

Several of the best choices in the game are themselves powerful in their implications even if not chosen (for example, the opportunity to "sacrifice yourself" instead of sacrificing a meal/producing artwork/composing a prayer early in the narrative), compelling you to go back and explore other paths. Thoroughly recommended.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
To the Oversea, again, February 16, 2024
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

You play as the warden of a crumbling temple, keeping alive the lore of a serpent god while also looking after a brood of odd, half-human sea children. As you proceed through the game, you glean bits and pieces of this fading religion and the strange world you inhabit, but you as the player never get the full picture. The persistent mystery, the uneasy unknowing, that continues even after multiple run throughs is what makes this game special. Akin to the experience of religious devotion, this game feels both incredibly massive and claustrophobic in its intimacy.

The game looks and sounds fantastic: a Twine rendering of a forgotten illuminated manuscript. The slightly glowing gold hyperlinks look like ink that's caught a bit of candlelight. The dull chanting in the background pushes forward deliberately, certainly. This look and sound are complements to the text: the thoughts of a hermit, thoughts that get puzzled over and twisted through years of silent, repeated meditation. Cycling links are used to great effect to communicate this mode of thought that folds in on itself until clarity -- perhaps -- is achieved, or lost for good.

Baccaris smartly doles out hints and glimpses of the game world and mythos in subtle and understated details embedded in prose that ranges in tone from contemplative to foreboding. I'm left so intrigued by the Oversea and the world beyond the island. Perhaps most powerfully, the player learns about this history and religion through a series of rituals. This was such a cool mechanic: as the player, you chose the ritual you want to perform, and then you tweak details of the ritual based on what you think will be most likely to garner a response from the Pursuer. It's through puzzling over these details that you really understand the nuances of this religion and the different orientations one might have to this ineffable god.

There is a story arc that's suggested at, as to whether the aging devotee to a fading religion can find peace, but this wasn't the strongest element of the game for me. I could keep playing around with the rituals, trying out different configurations of sacrifice, prayer, and votive offering -- even if the serpent god isn't ready to reveal themself to me.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
light a candle for me, September 19, 2023
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: religion, IFComp 2018, melancholic

play time: 15-20 mins

The reader plays the last remaining priest devoted to an unnamed being, whose worship takes the form of daily ritual.

Loneliness and duty run through the story: this priest houses not-quite-human children, and they too make up part of the priest's daily duties. While there may be loneliness in unanswered prayer, there is, ultimately, solace and a kind of community in this sort of care. And if a religion lives only with belief (deity is an entirely different matter), then the player/character holds existential power.

The overall aesthetic, both in writing and visual design, is appropriately gloomy and formal. There are subtle nods to a deeper backstory, but the focus still lies squarely on the earthly: the priest, the children, the physical setting.

Different levels of choice are made transparent to the reader with the text formatting to indicate its importance in the narrative's progress. The story has shallow branching which converges in a suitably ambiguous ending, as befits a deity which may or may not exist - whose existence may, in fact, depend on the player's choices.

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The following polls include votes for DEVOTIONALIA:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Writing of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Use of Multimedia for 2018 by MathBrush
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