Video games have never been my thing. Books, yes, most definitely. The occasional board game and table top roleplaying game, certainly. But I steered clear of video games. It’s not that I found them uninteresting. Quite the opposite. I found the stories for many games (especially those involving magic and lost treasures and heroic princesses and such) to be quite intriguing.
But I was already busy. Between my “real” job and my writing, there was no time for video games. And I was afraid that if I started, I would never stop, and something important in my life — like my writing — would suffer for it.
So, no video games.
And then Ilona Andrews announced that Burn For Me (one of my favorite books) was being adapted as an interactive story game by Crazy Maple Studios for their Chapters app. I had no idea what that was. But, it was Burn For Me. I couldn’t resist. I downloaded the Chapters app a few days before the release, and started playing some of the other games.
Then I found another app with more games. And another.
Yeah. I was hooked.
Surprisingly, though, my writing did not suffer. I wasn’t losing time to the games. I played for a few minutes in the morning while eating breakfast, and then a few minutes in the evening before I sat down to write. Playing these interactive games actually seemed to help with my writing; got the creative juices flowing, as it were.
So here they are: my six favorite Pagan/polytheist-friendly interactive story games. Three can be found through the FictIf app from Nix Hydra; two through the Choices app from Pixelberry Studios; and two through the Chapters app from Crazy Maple Studio. Check them out. Design your characters and play a few chapters. Then come back and tell me what you think, and maybe suggest a few games that I missed. (Please note that some of the links provided are to the Google Play Store; these games are also available through other platforms, such as Apple’s App Store.)
The Arcana (Nix Hydra): in the grand city of Vesuvia, you play an apprentice mage and skilled tarot reader. With your mentor out of town, you are tasked with solving the magical murder of the Count. There’s court intrigue, mystery, ancient riddles, plenty of romantic possibilities, and lots of magic. While “you” as the player are never given an avatar in the game, you are allowed to choose your name, your gender and preferred pronouns, and your romantic partner/s (if any). The artwork is wonderful (more cartoony than some other games), and the mystery is engaging.
Blades of Light and Shadow (Pixelberry/Choices): in this complex epic fantasy/dungeon crawl, you are given the choice of playing thee different characters: a human, an elf, or an orc. Your initial choice determines the flow of the game, as you collect artifacts, knowledge, and travel companions in your quest to defeat the Dreadlord and keep the monsters of the Shadow from overrunning the world. Beautifully illustrated, with lots of fun side quests, as well as gender/pronoun and romantic options. (Plus, flying kitty cat!)
Burn For Me (Crazy Maple/Chapters): based on the novel of the same name by Ilona Andrews, Burn For Me differs from other interactive story games in that the player only gets to choose the look of their character (not the gender, pronouns, or romantic interest). This makes sense, since the game follows the novel. In this case, you play a private investigator in a modern/alternative Texas who has to team up with the powerful and dangerous Mad Rogan to stop a far-reaching, murderous conspiracy. Fans of the book will probably get more from the game than those unfamiliar with the source material, but it still makes for an engaging and fun magical romp.
The Elementalists (Pixelberry/Choices): welcome to magic school! In The Elementalists, you play a university student (your choice of ethnicity, gender, pronouns, and sexual orientation) who falls through a mirror and into a realm of fantastic creators and elemental magic. Pay attention, though! Just like real school, there are tests, and failure to remember names, locations, and spell components will have consequences! Of course, it’s not just school that you have to worry about, because there is something strange going on at Pendeghast College …. [To date, there are two sequels to the main game: The Elementalists Book Two and The Elementalists: Winters Past.]
For the Love of Gods (Nix Hydra/FictIf): as is the case with Nix Hydra’s other games, you as the player are not given an avatar, but you have your choice of name, pronouns, and gender. Here, you play a demigod who has ascended to the divine realm of Eonia. However, you must earn the right to remain by passing four tests and becoming a full Deity; in this case, the God/dess of Love!
Last Legacy (Nix Hydra/FictIf): imagine that you are attending a convention dressed up as a character from your favorite MMO, when a glowing staff appears at your feet and you suddenly find yourself inside the game! Yep. The magical realm is real, and now you’re stuck there. There’s plenty of opportunity for romance, but also adventure, magic, and mystery. Ultimately, will you want to go home?
A few others that you might want to look into are the epic fantasy The Crown and the Flame (Pixelberry/Choices); the New Orleans-based urban fantasy Night Bound (Pixelberry/Choices); Poison Study (Crazy Maple/Chapters) based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Maria V. Snyder; and Potion Devotion (Crazy Maple/Chapters) in which you play a marketing executive who gets to choose between two different magic potions that will radically effect for work life and love life.
Also, I have recently discovered several more interactive story games, notably the Choice Games app, Supernatural Investigations, and Gangs of the Magic Realm. Expect a follow-up article with more recommendations.
[Written by Rebecca Buchanan.]