PEGBRJE: Inverness Nights and Respite 2.0

A historical tale, and a retro perspective

Y’know, it’s usually not a good idea to call a client a ‘thief’…

Inverness Nights is a tale of heartache by kitsubasa, an indie developer, along with assistance from others for the CGs and some sprites. Players are taken on a humble adventure of the tailor Tristram Rose, living in 18th century Scotland and attempting to mind his own business. However, a decision to save his lover has put his peaceful life in jeopardy, as his methodology is far from humanly possible; Triss is an immortal, with the power to heal with his touch.

As with many visual novels, players make decision for Triss at key moments to determine how he attempts to escape Inverness, juggling between exploring the characters that are introduced and deciding the best course of action. Tristram himself balances on a knife’s edge, for being an immortal with healing abilities isn’t the only thing deemed ‘inhumane’ about him at the time; his lover is a man named Alasdair. Not only is this illegal, but Alasdair is not the most emotionally stable upon being saved by the supernatural and is Tristram’s greatest threat in safety for revealing his power. While escape appears to be his best option, a female client of suspicious nature appears to commission a fantastical dress with solid gold coins as payment, further stressing Triss’s options. Mending his relationship with Alasdair seems impossible, but so does escaping with no funding. Finishing the job would give him all of the funds necessary to escape, but every day he remains in Inverness could prove fatal. It’s this constant back and forth tension that keeps the pages turning, this need to figure out the best possible course of action for Tristram while recognizing that there truly is no way out that won’t hurt another in the process.

In an odd way, this is a game of breakups; a story of a man attempting to break loose of a relationship for his own safety yet also for his own selfish reasons. Tristram is old, and his experiences have jaded him to many thing that he cannot understand nor attempt to. Alasdair is moody and irrational, yet deeply pained by his recent experiences and by the actions of Tristram. Neither man believes themselves to be wrong, but also cannot reconcile that they may be, leading to many decisions out of emotional turmoil that cannot be undone.

Like with all good breakup stories, there must be a third party to give the protagonist someone to talk to, and our lady Shell is the woman to assist. She’s the one commissioning the dress, one of lavish extravagance and material that is old yet highly valuable. However, her interactions rarely deal with Tristram’s problems, and instead she tells him a tale of others at sea that extends over the days. They add a layer of complexity to the story, introducing characters that may be fictional for all Tristram knows, while adding colour to her own backstory. She may know more about Tristram’s dilemma than she is letting on, and that’s what adds the third possibility to the path. She could assist not only with her funds, but with her help.

Mild sidenote, but the amount of information I gained about tailoring is astounding. I know next to nothing about textiles, fashion and clothing creation, so the amount of dialogue and information about the craft is absolutely astounding. There is discussions about the pieces of a dress and clothing of the time period, as well as fabric composition and tailoring practices that I would have never known. It adds a lot of text to the story, which some may find a tad wordy, but I found it added so much genuine depth to Tristram’s character and profession.

Inverness Nights is a tale of love yet remorse during a time when it was considered forbidden, when many parts of the human body and mind were deemed inhumane. There are 6 endings in which Tristram can find himself escaping his dilemma, but not all of them are pleasant; after all, there are many ways one can escape a town that don’t involve leaving it. I wasn’t expecting to be so drawn in by the story, yet the combination of attention to detail and the complicated emotional weight of the three main cast members kept my interest throughout my first and second playthrough. If you’re looking for a tale that touches on LGBT+ matters in a historical set piece, look no further.

There’s even a PDF that details the 6 endings that players can download on the page, which I found immensely helpful when doing a few of my other playthroughs. I will say that Ending 6 is by far the most confusing — I know it’s a ‘bad’ end, but I just don’t think I understood it.

Just let it wash over you.

Respite 2.0 is a ‘Virtual Relaxation Software’ experience created by Modus Interactive, the developer that brought us that terrifying Sanguine Sanctum title earlier in the bundle. The game continues in Modus’ style of PS1 era graphics, but instead of a mood that terrifies this is a game meant for the exact opposite; to soothe.

Players are given little in the way of options besides starting the relaxation process and a few alterations to the audio levels. Upon entry, players are sent into a road of sorts with objects on either sides and calming music to groove to as one does. The speed in which the trees and objects pass can be changed using the forward/backward arrow keys, and the path can appear to be changed from side to side, indicated by the change in the ‘road’ as it curves to meet the player’s input. After so long, a divergence appears to change the atmosphere, resulting in the music and environment switching to a new location for players to settle into for the next bout of relaxation.

It’s calming in a surreal kind of way, if it makes sense; the constant motion of familiar objects passing by as if I were driving down a lengthy highway yet not going anywhere. The objects are all the same until the divergences, giving off the feeling of spinning in place yet it also just washes over you as it happens. Thankfully I’m not actually driving, as I could totally see myself falling asleep in this soothing atmosphere.

Respite 2.0 delivers exactly what it claims to; virtual relaxation in order to find respite. There’s little I can talk about, as it isn’t meant to be talked about — rather, it is a game of experiences that bring about the feeling of stillness through motion. If you are in need of something relaxing to put on either in the background, or wish to take a journey through a world to find some peace and quiet, Respite 2.0 will get you there.