The author of Frankenstein for iOS used to be a games designer – but don’t expect this interactive version of Mary Shelley’s classic book to feature any technicolor monsters lurching out of the screen.
Author Dave Morris has stuck closely to the original plot, but with the action shifted from Ingolstadt in Germany to revolutionary Paris, guillotines and all. This context of terror and revolution ramps up the psychological pressure – and gives Frankenstein a good source of body parts too.
The app retains the multiple viewpoints of the original, with the reader taking the part of Frankenstein’s confidant – possibly imaginary – as well as of the monster itself. While this can be a little confusing for anybody reading in lots of short sessions, it increases the reader’s sense of immersion in this claustrophobic story.
The interactive element comes through the frequent choices which take the book off on slightly different paths. The choices, such as which document you read first, or what you say to Frankenstein, are generally fairly trivial. Morris is keen to stress that this isn’t some sort of Choose Your Own Adventure book, but first and foremost a literary experience.
The main aspects of the story are pretty much set in stone; what does change is the emphasis, with some episodes or conversations shown more fully, depending on the reader’s preference. Essentially, the book becomes personalized: the character addressed as ‘you’ in the story is different for every reader.
It would be impossible to review this app without highlighting the stunning design and illustrations. The story appears as a series of loose sheets of paper, pinned together, and the many beautiful images include detailed anatomical pictures and other contemporary engravings. It takes some doing to make an iPad feel like an antique treasure, but this book manages it with ease.
Frankenstein is published by Profile Books, in conjunction with interactive software specialist Inkle. It’s available now, at a special launch price of $4.99; £2.99 in the UK.