Available for download from the iTunes store under the "books" category, Shadow Ranch is a fascinating mix of a book app and a game app. Her Interactive has labeled it a "gamebook;" but it is more book than game.
A Book with Multimedia Elements
Since fans of Her Interactive computer games can be quite enthusiastic, they should be aware that Shadow Ranch isn't a port of the company's trademark, wonderfully rich, immersive computer games. This is an actual book to read, with some multimedia elements to enrich the experience.
How to Explore This Mystery Book
Set on a tourist ranch in Arizona, Shadow Ranch is a full, read-it-yourself Nancy Drew novel, with some interactive game elements added. Some of the words are different colors and when you click on them, you might get a definition, discover a collectible or hear a sound. Every few pages, there is a graphic with which to interact. Even more fun, is are casual games embedded to play including hidden picture puzzles and word games.
Also interactive is the story, since readers have choices to make along the way. For example, when rescuing some people from kidnappers, you will be asked if you want to run away or run toward the bad guy. For most of these choose-your-own-adventure junctures, the story lets you return to try it another way.
At the end of seven of the eight chapters, there are additional mini-mysteries to unlock. You do so by playing mini-games associated with each of the seven collectibles that you found in each chapter.
With inventive interactive elements, this book app bridges the book and gaming worlds. It provides a solid reading experience for fans of the Nancy Drew books, but enriches that experience by giving the reader control of many of the story elements. Each chapter is a story in itself, with multiple endings.
While there are ghost hauntings in this gamebook, the scariness factor is mild when compared to the offering of Shadow at the Water's Edge
, making it available to a younger audience. Kids as young as age 8 will enjoy this app, and parents will appreciate that their kids are reading as they play.
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