Stories Told By The Fire
To choose or to witness, that is the question. Plenty of people (for years) have been complaining that most popular titles in the gaming space have been rather devoid of decent storytelling. This has paved the way for hit-indie console titles like What Remains of Edith Finch and Everybody Goes To The Rapture in the past few years.
Lately, mobile developers have begun to tap into our desire to ingest stories. Some titles like Lifeline, and the extremely popular Episode series, have the reader take the role of a savior or other pivotal character, as you make choices or give advice from your perspective. Others (like two of our titles this week) provide more of an observant experience, reading interactions between other people without any action necessary.
We’ve all spent time telling, or listening to, stories, so it’s an obvious trend to resurface on mobile devices. While some of the platforms allow for multiple artists and writers to co-publish stories (making for some diverging tastes or quality), many of them are written by a crack team and are finely polished experiences from start to finish.
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Why Play? As the most popular of the titles on this list, HOOKED does what others in the genre do, and throws you into an experience right out of the gate. There’s no “tutorial”, rather, you are asked if you prefer “scares” or “romance” and are put into a story right away. Their subscription gate is well designed, as it presents you with blurry photos (in context of the chat story) and offers you a seven-day free trial ($15 CAD/month after that) in order to see them. According to the pitch, you can also get audio content within the stories you read.
Why Play? Much like the “choose your own adventure” books/games of the early 90s, games like Cliffhanger will do just that—dangle you from the edge of your seat. The beauty of the way Cliffhanger presents its content sets it apart from most, as everything is expressed through text chats, and consist of short stories written by all types of pen-wielders. It’s flawless for a short experience or a long stint. With the same enticing pay-wall for subscriptions, Cliffhanger does change things up by displaying prices at a weekly amount—making the $ value seem smaller.
Why Play? Story-based games like Lifeline first brought out our never-ending desire for this “choose your own adventure” type of semi-participatory reading. KIM takes further advantage of the power in your smart-phone like your ability to comment on her Facebook page to inform her family that she’s stranded, or use Google Maps to find out where she is via the coordinates she sends you. It’s an intriguing tale, and everyone should try to help get Kim home.
Why Play? Yarn has plenty to offer, and unsurprisingly sets you off on your reading journey with a spooky tale in order to entice you to continue, but they truly have a diverse library of stories here. Maybe this has somewhat blurred their intentions, but it’s still a solid place to get a flavor of tales that the others on this list just don’t provide. Topics include Mystery, Horror, Romance, Comedy, and even Celebrity Gossip.
CompulsionLoop is AC+A’s (adriancrook.com) weekly pursuit of providing a Featured List for those in the games industry. A look at the latest must-play apps, along with short, useful takeaways from our team of game design and product experts. If you have a game that you think your industry colleagues should try, we’d love to hear about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to tell us why industry insiders should be compelled to try out the game (see what we did there?).
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Have a great week!- Adrian Crook www.adriancrook.com