Though this is the eighth installment, you don’t need to have read any of the previous titles to dive right in and start enjoying this one. A nice departure from the fantasy genre deftly handled in the first seven tomes, Infinite Universe is a Sci-Fi adventure involving amnesia, rebel forces and parallel universes.
Infinite Universe’s basic storyline is as follows:
“In the fourth millennium, the Mandellian Empire of the Tau Ceti system is at war with the rebel army known as DWORF. And lucky you have been chosen for a dangerous solo mission to kill or capture the rebel leader, through mind-bending loops of time and space. But wait a minute. Just who are you anyway? And how did you even get here? Such secrets you must uncover if you are to unlock your destiny…”
Don’t know what a Gamebook Adventure is?
Well, if you’ve ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book you’ll have a good idea what to expect. Infinite Universe is essentially an interactive e-book with branching narrative paths. You are the lead character and decisions you make alter the direction of the story.
You start by creating your character consisting of four stats (Vitality, Fitness, Offensive and Defensive). These values are all determined by a virtual roll of the dice. You may also pick up various inventory items along the way. When the character comes into combat situations, there is a 3D realistic dice-based battle system that determines the outcome. There is also automatic character sheet management as well as the ability to set a limited number of bookmarks (in case you make a bad choice and want a do-over) and you can even earn Game Center achievements. The text is interspersed with some beautiful original illustrations and is set to an original musical score.
Despite the fact that I write a lot, I’m not really a novel reader (opting for the unabridged audiobooks instead), but I do watch a lot of Sci-Fi TV/Movies so it is a genre that I particularly enjoy. I was immediately drawn in by the storyline. Where was I, who was I and who can I trust? As a choose your own adventure-style, the narrative is broken into nice easily consumable chunks. I believe there are around 250 in the first chapter alone, each of which varies in length from one page to multiple pages worth of text. at the end of each of these is where you have to make a choice which effects where the story goes (like the old turn to page 252, etc.). Re-playability (even w/o buying additional chapters) is still fairly good as you get a sizable chapter one for free.
If I had a wishlit for future updates/titles, I would love to see the addition of an optional audio narration, but I imagine this would be much too costly and drive the download size of the the application way up as well. That being said, the writing in Infinite Universe was certainly captivating enough to keep my attention. Transporting me, not only to space, but back to my youth when I’d regularly devour my most recent choose your own adventure book purchase from the school book sale fundraiser, flipping back and forth seeing if I could figure out who stole the treasure (only occasionally cheating and turning to an alternate page).
A new genre isn’t the only new thing that Tin Man Games is trying with this eighth installment in the Gamebook Series, they are also experimenting with price. One of the biggest barriers to entry with the Gamebook series has always been that unless you waited for a sale you had to spend $4.99 on an unknown entity and trust that you would enjoy it. Now, with Infinite Universe the guys at Tin Man Games have shifted to a pay to unlock chapters system. The first part of Infinite Universe is free to play and is accessed by downloading the free app. You can play (and replay) this part as many times as you want w/o investing any money. However, if you’d like to advance you must unlock Parts Two Through Six. This can be done individually for 99¢ per chapter or you can unlock the entire this all at once for a reduced price (currently $3.99). I really like this new payment method as it allows you to see if you like the storyline/characters before spending money on the app.
If you’ve been holding off on trying the Gamebook Adventure series because of price or you just aren’t into fantasy novels, then you’ve got no excuse not to try Infinite Universe. The story will hook you in right from the get go. You can grab the first chapter for free at the App Store now. Tin Man has a great framework here that could be successfully be applied to any number of genres or even to original stories based on popular TV series like Doctor Who, Firefly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer or even The Walking Dead. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface and plan on spending more time with this title. I’m also now even more excited for their upcoming, previously announced Judge Dredd adventure.