Remember those old choose-your-own-adventure books? How you would read a few sentences and then at the bottom it would say “If you decided to kiss the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, turn to page 53,” or “If you instead chose to preserve your dignity, turn to page 46.” They fell out of favor in the mid-90s, though public libraries probably still have a few if you look hard enough.
Yeah, those ones. Since the fall of the CYOA novel, you might have heard of a little game engine called Twine. For those that haven’t, Twine is basically a digitized, open-source CYOA maker. You can include links in your text Wikipedia-style that, when clicked, cause new text to appear or advance the story to a new location. Some triple-threat titles even include pictures and sound!
The Brave Explorer, The Jungle of Doubt and The Temple of No is one of those fancypants triple threats. It’s a cheery, self-aware romp through a jungle right out of Indiana Jones. You can play as a woman, a bloke, or a frog. Trusty Frog-o is, of course, the true hero of this story and if you didn’t pick him you’re wrong.
Did you see up there where we said this game was by Crows Crows Crows, an indie studio started by one of the developers of The Stanley Parable (stand alone edition). The game’s quirky, easily-irritable narrator feels just like the disembodied voices that guide you through Stanley, though the end of Temple of No shakes up that convention a little at the end. (No spoilers!)
The game is mostly linear, for all its illusion of choice. Some might say that this structured faux-freedom means that it’s not a “real” choose-your-own-adventure game but no game is without restrictions. Choosing the “wrong” option in Temple of No or Stanley Parable gives you some funny dialogue and then leaves you free to advance the plot through the correct option. Is that much different from making an incorrect choice in a CYOA, readying “You Died,” and then flipping back to the last page you were on?
Like most games by Crows Crows Crows, Temple of No is short and sweet. If read slowly and take it at a very leisurely pace, it’ll only be about 15 or 20 minutes from tip to tail. (Now, if you listen to the Supreme Ruler’s entire monologue, that’s another story.) Temple of No’s charming brevity is another trait it shares with their other game, Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist — which, by the way, is a free 15-minute game on Steam. In an age where 70+ hour, open-world adventure games and infinitely-replayable shooters dominate the market, a 15-minute story game is a great palate cleanser.
You can breeze through Temple of No in the time it takes to play a (long) match of Overwatch. Same goes for Dr. Langeskov. Stanley Parable is a bit longer (and costs money) but there’s a fun demo for free on Steam, too.
Do you like choose-your-own-adventure games or have fond memories of the CYOA books as a kid? What were some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments or tweet it to us at @GeekandSundry!