Video Game Review: Infinite Universe
Image via Tin Man Games
Price: First chapter free; subsequent chapters US $ .99/each or 5 for $ 3.99
I’ve never played a Gamebook before. GFBR has reviewed a few in the past
, but this was my first time playing and I’d never even heard of the genre until I read the prior reviews. But what I have heard of are Choose Your Own Adventure books, which I used to love when I was a kid. I even wrote one of my own once, a very simple cowboy story, using some old Apple IIe software. About two seconds into Infinite Universe, I realized that I was playing a digital Choose Your Own Adventure book. Awesome.
It’s not exactly the same. Infinite Universe uses dice at various points to decide outcome, whether of combat or random rolls. I ended up getting frustrated by that a few times, especially as I approached the end of the book and so much seemed to come down to the toss of the dice. But overall it added a nice aspect to the book that made it feel slightly more like play and less like reading.
I think the game would probably feel nicer on an iPad than an iPhone, because there would be less page flipping to get to decision points. Other than that, it looks and sounds nice (though I did turn off the music after a little while) on my iPhone 4. There’s also Game Center integration, which I like because I’m an achievement junkie.
You start out the book rolling for stats, which can affect later skill checks and key points in the book. Other than that, you’re mostly reading and relying on your choices to dictate the story. I found out the hard way that your initial stats can be pretty important, because if you roll a low Fitness, you’ll fail nearly every Fitness Check you run into. I decided to restart my second character and reroll for Fitness, got a much better result, and was able to make it to the end of the game… with some hiccups.
Joe vs. The Boar
The first part (or chapter, I guess) is free. It took me about twenty minutes to get through it, and then I had to decide if I wanted to continue one chapter at a time, for $.99 each, unlock everything for $3.99, or replay the first chapter over and over.
The story itself is… fine. I’ve played through it a few different times now, though I’ve only managed to make it to the “ultimate ending” once. There are a lot of self-referencing moments, and even parts that say “it’s like you’re reading a bad sci-fi story.” Well, you kind of are. You’re some average Joe (or Joanne) from the twenty-first century, catapulted into the future to save humanity. Along the way you fight aliens, rebels, virtual creatures, robots, and have to decide who you can trust, if anyone. The story is full of clichés and strange names and things you’ve seen a thousand times if you’re into sci-fi at all. But that really wasn’t too much of a problem for me. I had more of an issue with the way it attempted to do a story-within-a-story-within-a-story a few times, which made decisions from previous chapters seem pointless.
There are three things that make an iOS game good for my mobile gaming style: how much content I get for my money, how many times I can replay it, and how easy it is to pick up and put down on the fly. Infinite Universe hits all three points fairly well. Though the $ 3.99 pricetag for the complete story may seem like a lot (I usually have a $ .99 cap for an iOS game, unless it’s something I really want), it’s actually not that much considering how many different ways the story can go. That gives it a massive amount of replayability, which is actually pretty refreshing in a mobile game.
If you’re a fan of science fiction and like to have control over the story, you’ll connect with Infinite Universe. And since the first section is free in the App Store, you have no excuse. Give it a try!