Choice of Kung Fu
Choice of Games teams with Alana Joli Abbott to deliver a rich, compelling narrative set against the backdrop of mystical ancient China with Choice of Kung Fu for iOS and Android. As a young student at the Order of the Peach Tree, an esteemed remote monastery, your life is full of infinite potential and promise. Through a narrative that unfolds over decades, you'll be given a chance to shape your destiny, and perhaps history as a whole. Will you choose to pursue your life as a monk and dedicate yourself to poetry and contemplation? Do you seek to rise to status as the champion of the Empire... or perhaps to lead a rebellion that challenges the Emperor himself? Will you become a hero, a teacher, a master whose name is known far and wide that will draw both students and challengers to you? And when the time comes, at the end, what will your Question to the Immortal Dragon Sage be?
Like all Choice of Games titles, play comes down to reading the text at hand, and then simply choosing your response to it. Unlike most simple "choose your own adventure" style of games, however, Choice of Kung Fu has a lot of factors that impact how well you perform, where you'll end up, and even the actions available to you. As you play, the game keeps track of statistics like your cleverness and honor, or your fighting or magic ability and more besides, changing the story to reflect how good (or bad!) you are in any given scenario at what you're trying to do. It's something that's been done before in other Choice of Games titles, but Kung Fu handles it much more subtly simply by using language and phrasing that never bursts that bubble of immersiveness. The result is that you play more honestly and with more thought to seeing what happens next than "winning". The story will take you from youth to elder, and along the way your relationships with many people will greatly impact the story as well.
Choice of Kung Fu is easily one of the best titles from the developers to date, largely due to the captivating writing of Alana Joli Abbott. While it does unfortunately wind up feeling like your character lacks a personality or is at least vastly overshadowed by the rest of the cast in terms of one, Kung Fu delivers a beautifully handled narrative packed with careful detail. The game feels almost more like a life simulation than anything else, a carefully paced story you craft yourself through your decisions and the paths you take, and as a result has a lot of replay value. It really feels like all of your skills and choices have a big impact on outcomes and events. The promised romances, unfortunately, feel token and shoe-horned in at best with mostly forgettable characters, appearing only briefly and then almost dropped in a way that makes it almost seem like they were only included because it's what people expected of a Choice of Games title. The game honestly doesn't need them because the experience of crafting a life, a legacy, is so much more fulfilling, and the story is full of memorable characters and encounters you'll want to play over again with different characters. Choice of Kung Fu's contemplative tone, cleverly structured events, and sprawling narrative make it one of the best pieces of interactive fiction you can get for your mobile device. We can only hope we see more from this dream team of talent in the future.