This is Not A Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel
If you're anything like me, you grew up with a stack of Choose Your Own Adventure books next to your bed, frequently re-reading them to find out how to get the best ending. As a kid, however "how will I die this time?" was not a question I generally asked when opening the cover. But I've asked myself this frequently as I've played This is Not A Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel from Robot Monster Productions. Interactive fiction meets RPG in this grim narrative, written and illustrated comic book style. You see explosions in the distance as your cell phone loses reception. Bad things are on the horizon...will you survive?
You'll get to pick three out of six possible skills as you start the game. After you tap the ones you want, the story will begin. Use your finger to scroll down the screen to read everything, then choose what you would like to happen next by tapping it. If you've played enough that you don't want to re-read a screen, just tap anywhere for your choices to pop up to the top. Often you will be able to tap a character's picture for more information before you proceed, though it's optional to do so. During your journey you'll find various items to help you on your way. It's important to note that you have to actually tap on the picture of the item or you will not pick it up! On the bottom of your screen you can tap on your backpack to see what you are holding. Tap the item to learn more about it. The green button on the bottom lets you remember what skills you chose, who is travelling with you, and a backlog of all the choices you've made.
The skills you use and the choices you make effect the outcome of the story, though even if you try to repeat your steps exactly there is a bit of randomness thrown in. You can't always succeed at picking a lock, for example. Of the many times I've played through I've yet to survive, and every time has been different in some way. There are many ways to die, and none of them are pretty. The comic book style and the artwork make This is Not a Test a pleasure to look at, which is good considering you keep going back to replay it with different skills or choices to see where they lead. The biggest drawback is the lack of a true save game function. With each game not lasting too long, it's not a huge deal, but something you should be aware of. The game tells a compelling story and has you make some difficult choices. Go it alone or band together? Shoot or run? What would you do to survive?
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 2. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.