Developer: NARR8 Limited
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 3

Artwork / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Story Telling Rating: ★½☆☆☆
Sharing Integration Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

NARR8 is an intriguing idea. Put together a diverse array of artistic storytelling, including illustrated storybooks, interactive nonfiction, and motion-graphic-style comics, with a variety of genres and provide the first episode of each for free.

It sounds like a great idea, but in execution it falls rather flat. The tech of it all is good, no doubt. The stories, however, are pretty disappointing in terms of quality. I can attribute some of that to translation issues – the developer is Russian and there is a Russian language option in the preferences – but even the themes and overall story lines have a fairly amateurish feel to them.

The stories tend to the sci-fi, with JAM, Subject 9, and Fear Hunters exploring themes using anime and animal protagonists to tell their rather melodramatic tales. Then there’s Final Feat, a fantasy motion comic based on Greek myths, Chronographics and Paradigm, both non-fiction entries covering history and popular science, respectively. Three more series are “Coming Soon,” as well. The developers plan on releasing a new episode for each series on a bi-weekly basis.

The problem is that none of this is too compelling. Maybe readers with less experience with amazing graphic novel and visual story-telling will enjoy the various stories in NARR8, but I did not. The art is really good, though, more’s the shame. If the app grabs enough readership to justify expanding the line to include better writing, this may be one to pick up.

There’s a final issue, sadly, as well. NARR8 allows a sign in via Facebook or Twitter, and then asks if the user wants to share via Twitter. I clicked yes, assuming I’d get prompted to send Tweets about different episodes after I finished reading them. What happened, though, was a thorough spamming of my Twitter timeline. A Twitter follower of mine asked if I’d been hacked, as the messages include evaluative statements about the episodes I had downloaded, let alone read. Users don’t typically like an app that writes its own Tweets, and then sends them without at least a chance to abort. This setting can be turned off in the settings, but it shouldn’t work the way it does in the first place.

Bottom line, the idea behind NARR8 is delightful. The artwork and interface is very well done, but the writing needs quite a bit of work. If the developers can get a few more higher-end authors involved, this could be a killer visual storytelling experience.

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