Last week, Netflix released its first interactive story. Like the choose-your-own-adventure books from our childhoods, Netflix’s television show lets viewers pick where the story should go, and it’s the best thing ever.
Right now, there’s only one interactive story available: Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale. Luckily, it’s entertaining and well-written enough for both adults and kids.
In the episode, viewers get to follow Puss as he goes through remixes of popular fairytales. They encounter a book that prompts them to choose between two options while the narrator and Puss comment on both choices. Instead of a progress bar that tells you how far you are into watching a video, there are interactive book pages at the bottom of the screen that let you jump to decisions you can make. If viewers don’t decide in time, Netflix will automatically make a choice for them.
There are also characters from Puss in Boots upcycled to play new roles—like Toby the pig, who plays a pirate. There are the three little bears who can either be kind or not, depending on what viewers pick. And there’s my favorite character, an evil queen that enters the story, saying to her mirror: “I’m just saying maybe we could occasionally have a conversation about something other than who’s the fairest. Like, I don’t know, art, music?”
Unfortunately, the episode is only interactive on smart TVs, game consoles, iOS devices, and Roku devices, per Consumerist. On the web, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Androids devices, the episodes play as if Netflix were making the choices for you.
Apparently creating interactive stories has been an idea that took two years to execute. Netflix will release another interactive episode from the “Buddy Thunderstruck” series on July 14. In 2018, there will be an interactive episode of “Stretch Armstrong.”
Because it’s interactive, it’s not as easy to binge-watch a bunch of episodes in one sitting. There are other benefits, too, like letting kids think about the different pathways to creating a story and the potential consequences of a choice (Puss ends up getting injured a lot).
Hulu is also tinkering with choose-your-own-adventures. They’re developing a series called “Door No. 1" on its VR app, but the audience is for adults.