Solve is an interactive comic in the form of a digital Rubik’s Cube. Each side of the cube contains a different story, but the puzzle isn’t as simple as spinning the scrambled cube around to look at all the panels…
Meanwhile is a CYOA comic (first a book, then an app) created by Jason Shiga. It’s branching narrative at a massive scope, a story that ranges from bizarre to touching, and a fascinating visualization of fate and reality.
Navigating physical and emotional spaces from a first-person perspective makes the experience of discovery more powerful, and I love the attention to detail and patience Gone Home emphasizes. It also subverts first-person tropes in an unexpected and lovely way. However, I still feel that it could have been more effective and involved more meaningful user action, even without explicitly introducing game mechanics.
Possibilia has an innovative approach to short film that works very well cinematically… but ultimately, this doesn’t feel like a piece with meaningful agency. Or even meaningful undermining of agency.
Photopia, an interactive fiction piece by Adam Cadre, is a narrative landmark in the genre. The author describes his motivation as wanting to create an IF piece that “(has) numerous focal characters, skips around in time, place and perspective, and dwells on how elements of a story have been influenced by events in the lives of the tellers”, while being “literary and beautiful”.
Reading Florence feels like playing through a piece of music. All of the mechanisms that control the story’s progress involve taking a rhythm explicitly defined by its creators and breathing it to life, and that rhythm is the rhythm of Florence’s life. Through the interactive mechanisms, you embody the beats and pauses, the repetitions and variations, of her journey through the world.
My goal is to draw out a personal critical framework for evaluating and creating interactive storytelling work. So far I’ve found three general criteria that can be used to describe what good interactive storytelling does.