Thursday, 1 June 2017
The dawn of the Frankenstein Wars
It’s hard to put a precise timeline to it, but say the first real gamebooks appeared in the early 1970s. That means they’ve been around for as long as the gap between a one-minute amuse-œil like The Miller and the Sweep (1897) and Citizen Kane (1941).
Given that, it’s reasonable to ask when we’re going to see the grown-up classics of interactive literature. Early gamebooks were aimed at kids, after all, and there’s a limit to how many times you can save the world from the orc army in a sub-sub-Dungeons and Dragons setting. No, I don’t mean we need more sympathetic orcs. Just as Alan Moore utterly shook up the world of superhero comics with Watchmen, I want to see gamebooks that move beyond solve-the-plot. Gamebooks with three-dimensional characters, tangled relationships, complex motivations, difficult moral choices, and a story that really takes you on a journey.
The Frankenstein Wars is that gamebook. Written by Paul Gresty, who’s already proved his Wellesian creative chops with richly imagined gamebooks The ORPHEUS Ruse and MetaHuman Inc, this is the story of two brothers caught up in a wave of Napoleonic conquest as Victor Frankenstein’s resurrection technology ushers in an era of total war.
If that sounds familiar – yes, it’s my Frankensteinian alternate history of the early 19th century. Originally I created this as a computer game, then later tried getting it off the ground as a movie or a novel, then as a comic book, and even as a tabletop RPG which was to comprise two rulebooks, French and English, each with its own slant on events. I never expected it to be a gamebook app, but now that I’ve seen the fabulous job Paul and Cubus Games have done, I’m fired up to return to the Frankenstein Wars universe and see what else I can do with it.
As well as a sophisticated storyline that would do justice to any blockbuster novel, the app boasts tactical maps, weather effects, astounding artwork, all wrapped up in a cutting-edge design ethic that shows Cubus Games are now one of the leading developers of interactive literature.
It’s impossible here to give a summary that would do justice to Paul’s writing. As I said earlier, this is a story that will really take you on a journey. For my money it’s destined to be a genre-defining classic, and next week Paul will be here with a guest post to give you just a taste of all the marvellous work that has gone into creating this truly unique interactive adventure.
The Frankenstein Wars is out now for iOS and Android.