Fringe Busters: Vesper.5
VESPER.5 is a game that requires a considerable time commitment. Each day, you are allowed to take a single step. In order to finish the game, you need to take a hundred steps. Over the course of the following ninety-nine days, it’s likely you’ll either stick with it just to see what happens, or abandon it due to that lack of quick continuity.
It’s an odd game, and I’m not entirely sure where in the spectrum of free gaming experiences it sits. On the one hand, it is completely devoid of any kind of cost to the player, so the free-to-play approach of forcing someone’s hand towards their wallet should they value progress sooner rather than later isn’t present. On the other hand, it’s doing exactly what those games do — providing you with a limited amount of options (primarily a single unit of movement) every twenty-four hours.
I’ve only just started my journey, and I’m extremely curious as to people’s reactions to a game that seems to be a meditation on patience and commitment in videogames. There’s no addictive quality to it, outside your own curiosity, and the time limit means that unless someone manually removes the one-step-per-day limit, no one’s going to see the end for a while.
Some would argue that this isn't a game at all, but I think, potentially, by not granting this title "game" status, we may be missing out on a direction of self-expression and idea development in the medium. It's often difficult to know what to make of games that eschew traditional mechanics and themes in favour of bringing interactivity to concepts and themes that are rarely explored. This week's Papo and Yo (PSN) is one such example — a game based around the designer's childhood experiences of having an alcoholic father, shown through the lens of a small boy and his monster companion/hunter. Not your average Nintendo release.
You can download Vesper.5 here, and if you do go the full hundred days, you may find that your satisfaction draws parallels with those who hit a certain amount of World of Warcraft money from daily quests, or those enjoying games with similar caps.
Feel free to share your thoughts here. With luck and patience, we'll be able to revisit the game as the holidays approach.