A choose-your-own-adventure app filled with animals and quests to determine the reader's values is ambitious, but not nearly varied enough to hold up to repeated readings.
In a world that has fallen into fear after being overtaken by a vague force referred to as the "Darkness," the reader takes the role of a Guardian tasked with acting as a savior. A set of short, branching stories involve talking to animals about ways to combat the Darkness. A bear, for instance, wants to use brute force, but other creatures are either ambivalent or only on board with the crusade once they're helped out of a jam. It's an intriguing premise, but the execution is much more limited than even the most basic adventure computer games of two decades ago. Choices are usually limited to two options, and one option is usually wrong. Playing through this game of a story only two or three times reveals the right path to avoid the story's pitfalls, and the ending varies only slightly based on the reader's choices. The artwork, at least, is distinctive and varied, with clever design work giving life to frogs, snakes, sneaky foxes and other animals. There's also a set of achievements to be earned based on decisions made in the story with values assigned like "being healthy," "being brave" or "being honest and fair." There's a nugget of a great idea in the app, but it feels far too short and limited to be truly immersive. Its constant repetition of references to the menacing Darkness begins to lose its power after the first dozen or so mentions, too.
It's a story that feels too gimmicky and slight to engage readers deeply within a game structure that doesn't offer much challenge or reason for repeated reads. (iPad storybook app. 5-10)