DEVOTIONALIA

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

Episode 1 of Sacred Tides series
Ritual
2018

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2 of 2 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.