To Be or Not To Be
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

To Be or Not to Be is a faithful recreation of the original book by Ryan North, only enhanced by the Gamebook Adventures Engine from Tin Man Games. This means that there isn’t much here that’s new for people already familiar with the book. Anyone that hasn’t yet experienced the over the top interpretation of the famous tale should have lots of fun with To Be or Not To Be. The story is humorous and the artwork contributed by some very well-known artists are great.

Gameplay: The story is great and with so many different endings to discover there is plenty of replay value.

Graphics: Great presentation and brilliant artwork.

Sound: The music is good as is the narration, although the latter can become repetitive

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

To Be or Not To Be

Developer: Tin Man Games | Publisher: Tin Man Games | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Adventure / Casual | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Remember that part in Hamlet where King Hamlet Sr explores the Mariana Trench in his ghostly form? Or the bit where Hamlet and Ophelia get Claudius drunk and then kill him with a hot air balloon they invented? If none of this sounds familiar, then you have clearly not experienced the “chooseable-path adventure” book by Ryan North. The original book had a wildly successful Kickstarter and now, thanks to the enhanced Gamebook Adventures Engine from Tin Man Games, can be played on PC.

Hamlet is certainly one of the most popular tales from Shakespeare and this isn’t even the first retelling of it as a game either. The quirky point and click adventure, Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement, was released in 2012 to mixed reviews, but To Be or Not To Be sticks to the format of the chooseable-path adventure book. At the start of the tale you can choose to play as Hamlet, Ophelia or even the murdered king, each with their own unique perspective of the unfolding story. At certain junctions in the tale you get to select from a couple of options, which then influences how everything plays out. Purists can choose the options marked with tiny Yorick skulls if they want to stick to the original version, but there are also plenty of crazy options to choose from. The amount of ways that the author has devised for this well-worn tale to divert from the original is quite impressive and your choices will lead to more than 100 different endings. Of course, with so many endings, it does mean that many of the routes are very short and the game can be completed in a manner of minutes. This is definitely not a title where you play through it once and call it a day though as I discovered something new virtually every time I started over.

Don’t worry if you still have nightmares trying to understand the flowery prose of the original as To Be or Not To Be is written in mostly contemporary language. Characters can still burst out in long soliloquies if the option is presented though, but the source material is definitely not treated very seriously. The humor is without a doubt the best part of the game, although it might not be to everyone’s liking. The story plays out in second person, with a very sarcastic narrator that won’t hesitate to berate your choices. If you persist in making stupid choices that the narrator will let you know in no uncertain terms what he thinks of your actions. The game also delights in pointing out how illogical and ridiculous some aspects of the original tale is, especially in regards to Ophelia, who is portrayed as a much more intelligent and strong willed.

Since the game stays true to the book you are pretty much restricted to reading or selecting from a couple of choices to advance the story. The text is displayed in a dyslexic friendly font and there are also plenty of great art to unlock as you play. Instead of one artist doing everything, To Be Or Not To Be is filled with drawings from Alex Thomas, Anthony Clark, Brian McLachlan, David Hellman, John Campell, Matthew Inman and many, many others. Fans of these artists will instantly recognize their styles and gallery where you can check out the drawings also feature information and links about them. This should be incentive enough to complete the game multiple times, but there are also plenty of Steam achievements to aim for. The achievements include everything from Inventing Second Person Pronoun-Paradoxial Auto-Dramatic Irony to cheating at solitaire, which should give you an idea of what to expect. After each tale your performance is rated on the “HAML-O-METER” to show you how true you were to the original tale. You can then restart the story from scratch or jump back to preset points that you have already reached in order to try alternate paths.

It is not just the presentation of the game that is very nice, but also the narration. It sounds like the game uses the narration from the audio book version of To Be or Not To Be, which was done by Matt Yantha. Matt has a pleasant enough voice, but the narration can become repetitive after repeated playthroughs and I ended up turning it off after completing the game a few times. The music bounces between cheerful and somber depending on what is happening in the story and fits in nicely with the whole experience. Since the interaction with the game is restricted to clicking through the text and making the occasional choice, I didn’t have any issues with the controls.

To Be or Not To Be is quite a unique experience and a perfect match for the Tin Man Games Gamebook Adventure Engine. The amount of pop culture references and contemporary dialogue will probably horrify staunch fans of the original prose, but everyone else will get a good laugh out of it. If you have already read and re-read the original book multiple times, then it is probably not worth buying the game version as well, but everyone else, should definitely check it out. It might not be a “game” in the traditional sense, but it is very entertaining and will probably keep you busy for far longer than you expected.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP3
  • Processor: 2 GHz dual core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7/8
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with 1GB memory
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space

Related posts

Always Remember Me

Always Remember Me

Always Remember Me has the distinction of being the first Otome Game on Steam, so how much you enjoy it will depend very much on whether you like the genre or not. The story is interesting, but the focus is more on training stats which can result in repetition, especially after multiple playthroughs. For an older game, Always Remember Me still holds up well and it is quite a relaxing experience, so if you are in the mood for something different it is worth seeking out. Gameplay: The focus is more on juggling stats than interacting with the characters. Graphics: The artwork still holds up well. Sound: The soundtrack is decent, but the speech snippets can start to become repetitive.

Dogfighter

Dogfighter

Its always good to go into a game with no expectations and be pleasantly surprised. Dogfighter is a highly addictive experience that will have you chasing rankings and achievements long into the night. A great game from a great indie developer. Gameplay: All the fun and maddness of a first person shooter but with added dimensions. Graphics: Stylish & detailed. Sound: Good sound effects but the limited music gets a bit repetitive.

MURI

MURI

If you remember the classic DOS era platformers such as Duke Nukem, Commander Keen and Bio Menace then you will love Muri. Everything from the visuals and sound right down to the frame rate is a homage to these early titles. It is rare to see a title embrace these kinds of limitations so faithfully and still manage to deliver an entertaining experience. Gameplay: Perfectly captures the run-and-gun platforming feel of a DOS era title. Graphics: 16-Color EGA at its best. Sound: Faithfully recreates the PC speaker sounds.

Highway Blossoms

Highway Blossoms

Join Amber as she goes from driving slowly towards a music festival while coming to terms with the death of her grandfather, to joining up with a ditzy treasure hunter named Marina. Highway Blossoms is a great yuri kinetic novel with a refreshing setting, awesome characters and a very compelling story. It's a little on the short side, but should definitely not be missed by fans of the genre. Gameplay: No choices to make, but the story is superb. Graphics: Plenty of backgrounds and great character designs. Sound: Excellent voice acting and a pretty great soundtrack too.

SPINTIRES™

SPINTIRES™

Spintires doesn't offer a compelling story or over the top action, but if you can appreciate a challenging game with a slower pace you will have fun. Navigating muddy terrain using enormous trucks is certainly an unique experience and while there is only one objective the true joy comes simply from playing with big trucks in the realistic mud. Gameplay: Slow paced and intense, but very enjoyable and satisfying. Graphics: Large maps and very detailed vehicles. Sound: Very peaceful.

Team Indie

Team Indie

Team Indie features an all-star lineup of characters taken from some of the best indie titles of recent years. You’ll also have to put these characters to good use as while the game is a platformer at heart it also features a heavy puzzle element. The game doesn’t quite live up to its full potential though and unfortunately there are some annoyances that drag it down. However, if you enjoy the genre and like the characters it should keep you busy for quite a while. Gameplay: With its large cast of characters and challenging levels it will take you a while to see and do everything. Graphics: Nice character designs, but the backgrounds are a bit bland and the animation could have been better. Sound: None of the tunes, except for the one during boss battles, are exactly memorable.

Leave a comment

9 + 6 =