While we all love an original narrative, gamebooks can be a great way to explore familiar characters in a more hands-on way than we’re used to. Just look at Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106, or 80 Days.
So as something of a low-level Shakespeare nerd, I was intrigued to hear about Tin Man Games’ next project: To Be or Not To Be. Giving players the choice to play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet Sr., To Be or Not To Be explores the story of Hamlet in a brand new way.
…or does it?
I suppose this is a subject that requires much historical debate. You see, as the preface in To Be or Not To Be explains, William Shakespeare was a rampant plagiarist. This gamebook, or so it contends, is the original text that Shakespeare stole so savagely from.
Shakespeare’s choices that led to the publication of Hamlet were just one path through this book, of course. Now, in the interest of historical preservation, To Be or Not To Be is being preserved in digital form for future generations to enjoy in its complete form.
But if you’re a real bore and want to stick with Shakespeare’s version, you can always just follow the choices with a little Yorick skull beside them. 😉
As you can probably guess from this set-up, the story is full of humor. Silliness abounds. Then again, we’d expect nothing less from it’s scribe, Ryan North; AKA the creator of the web-based Dinosaur Comics, and (until recently) tackled the writing duties on BOOM! Studios’ splendid Adventure Time comics.
To Be or Not To Be began life as a printed book backed by Kickstarter – and at that time, it was their most successful publishing project ever.
In addition to the fun read, you’ll be treated to plenty of eye candy. The book’s visual contributions come from a who’s who of artists: Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade), Emily Carroll (The Yawhg), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and dozens more. It’s absolutely stunning.
The game launches on Steam today, but Tin Man Games assures us that a mobile version is in the works. Expect it on iOS and Android this March.