Thursday, January 21, 2016

To Be or Not To Be

Hi! Charlie here. Last time, I wrote about the cool interactive fiction called "80 Days." A fantastic little app that I thought built a pretty compelling world using not much more than the written word, it nonetheless may have been a bit too "gamey" for some.

Now, I come to you with a DIFFERENT sort of interactive novel: Ryan North's "To Be or Not To Be." This one is a real-life, honest-to-god book you can buy, OR (and this is what I recommend) you get the much cheaper app version for your phone.

Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? It's one of those, but as a genuinely hilarious retelling of Hamlet. 

How it works is: you pick your character (Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet). The plot unfolds then as Shakespeare intended (though paraphrased in hyper-casual modern English) but every so often you're given two or three choices for how to continue. The story can spin out of control from there. And by out of control, I mean out of control. (On one of my reads, King Hamlet's ghost went exploring for sunken pirate treasure on the bottom of the ocean.)

The choices you're given can result in very different endings. For instance: has Hamlet's tragic flaw of inaction always frustrated you? Well, how about you just go kill Claudius from the very beginning? You can do that! Has the somewhat troubling and outdated views of female sexuality made you bristle? Well Ophelia can become a super-smart inventor who doesn't take crap from any man! It's smart, well-written, and really funny. Like, actual laugh-out-loud funny.

I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time. And it is an actual book, so if you're not into games at all, still give this a shot!


  1. Erm, I commented on this when you posted an apparently it didn't save. I blame Google and NOT user error.

    But I love this app! It's so fun and funny and sarcastic.

    1. Hooray! Glad to know I'm not just talking to myself. (More than usual.)