Developer: Faber & Faber/The Story Mechanics
Price: $6.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Impressively nearing its 100th anniversary, The Thirty-Nine Steps is still a tremendously gripping thriller courtesy of John Buchan. With various cinematic adaptations, it’s easily accessible, too. Now, we have this iPad adaptation, part interactive story, part simple game, to enjoy. It’s quite good too, although slow-paced and not without its problems.

39steps8Following the story of Richard Hannay, a man framed for murder in 1914, it’s a great mystery full of intrigue and riddles. Readers don’t get to change the outcome or events within the book but they do get to interact with objects, start up conversations and open doors. The latter is a little gimmicky, invoking gestures to perform the required action, but the rest feels like an enhancement to getting into the story.

That’s not to say that The Thirty-Nine Steps isn’t slow-paced. Focusing on animations as well as text and conversation, it’s going to be a bit of an acquired taste. Those expecting a game will be disappointed but, similarly, those expecting a pure reading experience will be surprised, too. More of a presentation at times, using various forms of media, both visual and audio based, there’s precious little quite like this version of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Such moodiness and a mixture of different storytelling devices work well, once one adjusts to it, although there are some interactive issues, such as text boxes that refuse to stay open while being read.

Most of all, The Thirty-Nine Steps will appeal to fans of the novel. It’s a fascinating way of using the source material and quite delightful in that respect. It’s tough to categorize specifically, but it’s the kind of mixture of interactive elements that I would love to see be used with other classic pieces of literature. Its meandering pace might feel restrictive at first, but get into the mood and it’s quite appealing.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Books, Reviews

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