For anyone who has watched the anime series Utena, you’re probably already deeply aware of what an allegory or metaphor is. If that’s the sort of energy slash vibe you’re looking for – along with a dash of longing – then you’ve got to try out Acolyte Ascend by Hale Mueller.
Created in Bitsy, you play as the Acolyte who, every single day, prays in the temple to the Grey god – a being whom they regard as a close ally and a friend. It’s the end of the world, but you make do. You’ve got your two friends, Cook and Cleric, that are part of the same order as you and who keep you company amidst the destruction of the world. It may sound like a simple premise, but alongside the haunting music of Acolyte Ascend, the game’s atmosphere feels as though you’re walking in a dream – untethered from reality. It’s fascinating, and speaks wonders to how Mueller has crafted this world that, so far anyway, can only be experienced in this 5-minute game.
In Acolyte Ascend, your friendship with the Grey god has consequences – namely that you’re aware of what they are planning to do: destroy the world and build it anew. Despite having three endings, the end of the world happens in all of them and no amount of pleading will make the Grey god change its mind.
So, where is the love in this interactive fiction game? As I said before, it’s all about allegory and metaphors for the most part, but the Acolyte’s relationship with their Grey god is all about love. While the end of the world is the God’s doing, it is the Acolyte who they spare outside of anyone else because of the Acolyte’s love for them. When they crack the world in two and make it reborn, it’s their love of the Acolyte that spares them from complete destruction.
It’s an incredible game, and while I have yet to discover the two different endings outside of ‘Born Anew’, I’d recommend players get lost in the world of Acolyte Ascend and see for themselves how Mueller has constructed a relationship amongst the ashes of the world.
Gayme of the Week is a weekly column by Aimee Hart about indie LGBT+ games that she’s played and what she loves about them. If you’ve got any recommendations, be sure to contact her on Twitter (@AimemeRights) or email (email@example.com).