l’Abbaye des Morts by Locomalito is the reason itself why I started Indie Impressions in the first place so it should deserve to be the first one I write about. Few years have passed since I played and finished the game and I still think this is one true masterpiece. It is hard to explain my feelings but as it says on the game page: “The lack of details turn on the player’s imagination, creating a unique experience for each player.”
About the game
It is 13th century and you play a Jean Raymond, one of the Cathar clerics who were treated as heretics by Catholic Church at that time. While being chased by the Crusaders you retreat to an old church not knowing that it hides ancient evil.
“Faith will be your only weapon in this platformer styled like a ZX Spectrum game. Black backgrounds, 1 color sprites and 1 bit sounds are a proper fit for a raw story.” Locomalito
The game worked so well for me because it had done everything right! You start out in the forest and you soon find out that a band of Crusaders are after you. The only sanctuary you can find is an old church and right after entering it you see that crusaders are trying to break through.
Music accompanies the whole act perfectly since it gives you a feeling of rush and despair. You climb up the church tower and if you visit the “Prayer of Hope” vista point a gentle melody plays while having this wonderful view of the sky. It is tiny details like that that build up the amazing atmosphere in the game.
Without additional spoilers, the goal in the game is to defeat the Devil that resides beneath the church and in order to do so you need to collect 12 crosses. You see, along the way you find various scrolls lying around which tells a story about the 12 brothers that took the refugee at the church.
Each scroll give you a hint of the story which also helps you on your goal and puzzles. What I loved about the scrolls is that it slowly exposes a tiny bit of story and you find a connections to them in the 23 rooms the game has to offer. You first learn that 12 monks were at the church, most likely to fight against the evil there and then in one room you find another note saying “Four brothers changed their faith“. What a twist of events! You just get the eerie feeling about it, where are the monks? And what happened to those four?
What I’m describing is an amazing atmosphere which is built up with a help of a story (scrolls), great & unique visuals in every room and music. Everything is placed & connected carefully and you just can’t stop wondering what will you find. Game takes you directly from the chase in the forest down to the catacombs learning about 12 monks and looking for crosses.
Game mechanics also go pretty well with the story – Jean doesn’t have any particular weapon except his faith so you can only jump and crawl and look for crosses. The game offers some neat puzzles and a lot of different enemies (which are pretty simple but they add to the variety of the rooms). Having quite a few lives and a lot of checkpoints makes the game more easy going but you will still drop a bit of sweat but just enough that you won’t have to pull out your hair.
The game keeps surprising up to the very end and when you’re done with it, you stay with this great yet sad feeling of a story you were part of. Even though the story is hardly told in details, your imagination connects the missing pieces. That’s what I love in games and l’Abbaye des Morts did it perfectly!
Point of Indie Impressions is not to give a full review or guide on the game but to express my feeling about the games I’ve played. I strongly suggest you give the game a try to see what I’m talking about, even if you are not big fan of retro ZX spectrum feel. It is free and it will take you between 1 and 2 hours in order to finished it.
Indie Impressions is a series of posts where I write subjective opinion on indie games that I found absolutely stunning. That games will stay in my heart for a long time and I will easily suggest them to you any day.