Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be Review
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Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be Review

Our Review by Rob Rich on March 22nd, 2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: YORICK-ROLLED
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There hasn’t been an absurd take on Hamlet this enjoyable since “Last Action Hero.”

Developer: Tin Man Games
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 0.1.3275
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

As much as I enjoy choose-your-own adventures, I tend to avoid them as they have a finite amount of possibilities. Unless they're more of a gamebook, anyway. But in all honesty, Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be is so genuinely funny I couldn't care less about limited re-readability.

If you're familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet then, well, good luck with To Be Or Not To Be. It does sort of follow the classic story, but it goes off the rails at every single opportunity. Sometimes to the point where the narrator removes your ability to make choices - because you obviously can't be trusted to make them on your own. And this is exactly why it works so well.

There are no dice or inventory screens to worry about here. It’s a pretty straightforward choose-your-own adventure, all things considered. At least mechanically. You read, make the occasional choice, then can opt to go back to a checkpoint once you finish your story or go back to the beginning. Simple stuff.

It's not the most exciting thing to interact with, but oh my goodness is it ever funny. Pretty much every single story branch I've explored so far had me laughing out loud, and I've taken so many amazing screen shots that I actually had to cut several of them out. I’ve had fun reading adventures like this in the past, but none of them really stuck with me. Playing as Hamlet's murdered father's ghost and becoming a marine biologist in the afterlife? That's going to stick with me. And yes, that really happened.

Really it's just the lack of interactivity that drags To Be Or Not To Be down a bit, but the humor more than makes up for it. There are even unnecessarily bombastic stat screens and a rating system for every story you finish, which make it even more difficult to care about the simplicity of the interface.

If you're looking for a laugh, you should really consider checking out Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be. And if you enjoy unforgettable (and hilarious) stories, you won't want to let it pass you by.

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