When I was younger, my favorite books to check out from the local library were the choose your own adventure novels. If you want to continue reading this review, turn to page 87. If you don’t…I guess just hit the back button. The reason I bring this up though is because Choices from Pixelberry Studios is essentially a new take on the formula.
Choices is a series of choose your own adventure novels, and they’ve got a little bit for everyone. There’s The Freshman, which is the story of a young woman (whom you design yourself. Mine was a lovely redhead named Spudbutt) attempting to find love and friendship in her first year of college. The Crown and the Flame is a fantasy setting where you see the story of a young princess building up an army after a coup wipes out her kingdom, and Most Wanted, a murder mystery series following celebrity detective Dave Reyes.
All three of the stories have pretty similar mechanics. The choices you make will have an impact of the game. You can make certain characters like you more, hate you, the clothes you wear can affect how people see you, and certain decisions will increase an overall stat that will allow you to make more important decisions down the road.
The writing is fairly solid on all three titles, even if some of the characters feel a little flat at times. The visual presentation is nice, and the background music often adds a good ambience as you read.
Unfortunately there is one thing stopping me from recommending Choices to any fan of a good choose your own adventure story. Certain choices can only be selected if you have enough crystals to essentially buy the option. Early in on The Crown & The Flame, I was given three choices: abandon a potential ally, promise to avenge the death of a potential ally, or save a potential ally. Obviously I want to save them, get a nice start into the story, but I didn’t have enough crystals to make this choice.
For me, this game is a perfect example of freemium modeling done wrong. I’d have been perfectly okay paying money to own this app, or even just paying an in-app purchase to unlock the entire story, but there is NOTHING more immersion breaking than getting invested in a story, getting to a crucial decision, and then hitting a paywall. The crystal aspect of this game makes it very difficult for me to recommend Choices. If you want to look into it as a fan of decision based narratives, there’s no harm, but I wouldn’t get too invested unless you’re okay with dropping some money in the middle of the story just to pick an option you want.