Versu (Free) by Linden Research, Inc. is an interactive storybook that acts like a high-society version of Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Rewrite the proposal between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins from “Pride and Prejudice,” or keep history the same. The choice is yours.
This character-driven interactive book platform was developed by the makers of Second Life. The app lets users experience the story by acting as one of the characters and choosing how the conversation will go, and what other things will take place during the scene. The decisions you make affect how other characters in the story treat you.
Users start with “An Introduction to Society” where they learn all about the mechanics of the app. You can choose a character, and then choose how that character will interact with others. For example, when you play Lucy, you can either be demure and respectful, or spunky and bad-mannered.
Each story has its own goals and achievements. In “The Unwelcome Proposal,” which is an adaptation of an excerpt from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” you can either play Mr. Collins or Elizabeth. If you choose to play as Elizabeth, you can decide whether she accepts or rejects Mr. Collins. The goal in this story is to address Mr. Collins’ proposal. What you do and how you do it is all part of the fun. Once you’ve achieved the goal, the story is finished.
In addition to the main goal, there are achievements to complete. Some are made clear at the beginning while others are hidden until they’ve been accomplished. For example, while playing Lucy in “An Introductory to Society,” one of the known achievements is to complete a sewing task. However, an unknown achievement is to make an enemy, which you only discover when you’ve upset one of the other characters in the story.
The app comes with a five-minute introductory story, the adaptation excerpt, and a 30-minute original ghost story called, “The House on the Cliff.” You can also add a 30 to 45-minute murder mystery through an in-app purchase for $4.99. The developers plan to add more stories in the future, as well as allow users to create their own stories and insert their own characters and scenes into different narratives.
The only problem I had with this app was the hoity-toity manuscript. I am not a fan of high-society period piece stories and even the original ghost story is written like a Jane Austen novel. In the future, I’d love to see different writers take on the dialog so that we don’t all have to be stuck in one type of story.
The concept of this app is extraordinary. It has a similar idea as the Choose Your Own Adventure genre, but the books are much more interactive because they are based on character dialog and personality development. The people in the story react differently to how you approach them.
If you are a fan of interactive fiction, especially English country novels, then you would be doing yourself a disservice not to download this amazing app. It comes with three free stories and a fourth can be purchased for only $4.99. Pick it up in the App Store today.