Sp_ace and TimesnewRoman set out to become occult librarians. Turns out it’s hard enough to read one single book, let alone create an entire library.

We started this stream with a lot of excitement and confidence since the first line of the description of the game is rad: “Restore a crumbling occult library by a winter sea and build the world’s foremost collection of grimoires and arcana”. So cool. We’ll be the best occult librarians ever, for sure.

The game commences with us waking up shipwrecked, freezing, and amnesiac on a beach. We only have one book with us that is unfortunately soaked. While we usually both enjoy games that don’t baby you through a tutorial before you get into the real deal, this is quite the trial. There are so many elements, all represented by cards, and we don’t know what to do with them at all. Worse, there is a timer on the card “freezing” counting down from 5 minutes. We suspect that that isn’t alluding to something good. 

The trailer of Book of Hours.

Finally, we figure out we can combine soul cards with other elements, books with other sentiment cards and learn that the soaked book is actually our diary, hurray! After struggling for a good half an hour, we make it to the village! (Turns out the freezing timer wasn’t that big of a deal since it just resets itself after reaching 0). We are kindly taken in by the local blacksmith, we dry our book next to his fireplace, and help the man in return for his favours.

We cross the bridge and make it to the castle, which we’ll have to unlock room by room. Next to the castle is our house (is it ours?), and man, almost everything is interactable. The laundry basket, the tea, cookies, more books, plants, paintings, furniture, odds and ends, everything. The amount of work that went into this is astonishing.

The icons should tell you what you need in order to read the book

Turns out, we also need a lot of random elements to actually manage to read a book. Even worse, you need to find something of the right element within ten seconds. Everything that is interactable has multiple elements that express the characteristics of a thing. So, there are tons of different elements, all with their own icons. Yes, this game is complex.

Moreover, there is a whole storyline behind this game, of course. Every book has a description, every card, every mood, every skill all have descriptions. For us, it’s just too much at this point. We cannot read everything, look at every element and also follow the story while getting stuff done. After an intense 2 hours, we finally manage to read one single book and we are exhausted. 

Sophie Paauw is currently studying Archaeology (BA) at Leiden University, working as an intern at VALUE, and writing a thesis on how we shape material, material(-ity) shapes the past and the past shapes us… and how D&D plays into that, chiefly. Amongst other things, Sophie is interested in the narrative aspect of archaeology, and fascinated by the way the past, present and future find each other in stories and legend (and games, be that classic TTRPGs like D&D or one of the many video games they stream over on the VALUE twitch channel).

Corine Gerritsen is doing a PhD in the Playful Timemachines project at Leiden University. She is occupied with distinguishing those elements that make up the past in video games. With a background in ancient history, it is unsurprising she plays too many games with ‘Rome’ in the title. She is terrible at platformer-games, but great at being (morally) terrible in Crusader Kings, she enjoys adventuring in Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed or The Whitcher, and loves building cute houses in games as Valheim or Enshrouded. When not playing with pixels, she enjoys going to book cafes, buy gothic novels and fantasy books, and test the absolute weight limit of her bookshelf.
Twitter: @CorineGerritse3