Choose Hamlet’s Own Adventure: To Be Or Not To Be

Heck yeah I'll play as Ophelia! That brook looks lush, man.

You know the problem with Shakespeare’s Hamlet? It doesn’t have any dinosaurs, for starters. Or time travel, now that I think about it. Those pirates are barely mentioned. Ophelia doesn’t kill anyone (else) either. And only one ending! To Be or Not To Be [official site] rectifies the lot.

Dinosaur Comics writer Ryan North turned Hamlet into a zany adventure-choosing game book with the help of $580,905 in Kickstarter funding in 2013, and now it’s become a virtual narrative choose ’em up you can play on your personal computer.

North’s take on the classic brought it oodles of endings and odd branches, a choice of three characters – Hamlet, Ophelia, and Hamlet Sr. – with their own abilities and paths, a whole load of all-caps, and art by a huge list of famous webcomic artists. And jokes, I guess. Lots of jokes. Actually, jokes are probably the main feature. Jokes are probably the driving force for this even existing. If he couldn’t add jokes, I bet he wouldn’t have even bothered.

What does this new digital version bring? Music, sound effects, animation, and achievements in a interactive novel sort of way, and it dresses the choose-your-own-adventure within the choose-your-own-adventure up as ye olde text adventure game too.

To Be or Not To Be is out now on Windows, Mac, and Linux for £7.99 through Humble store, which gives a DRM-free version and a Steam key, or it’s £8.99 straight from Steam.

17 Comments

  1. All is Well says:

    “-1 weakness against water”
    I giggled. Are most of the jokes references to the actual play like this or can I get away with only remembering the main bits?

    • Mutak says:

      You can actually follow the real plot of the play – it’s marked with skull icons in the choice list. Running through that once should only take a few minutes and then you can start over to check out some of the crazy funny stuff.

      • All is Well says:

        So I don’t actually need to brush up on my Shakespeare? Excellent! Thank you.

      • davidelrizzo says:

        The ‘Real’ story actually contains the most crazy choices you can make.
        “Hamlet did what now!?”

  2. meepmeep says:

    The lack of time travel, aliens and guitar solos was already addressed by the thoroughly entertaining “Hamlet or The Last Game Without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement” in 2010.

    link to store.steampowered.com

  3. Catchcart says:

    I think they should do Lady MacBeth’s Hand Washing Simulator 2015 next. The master difficulty is a b****.

    • meepmeep says:

      Out, Cool Spot!

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Oh, I’ve played that and the difficulty’s just a joke! I had to backtrack so much to get all the perfumes of Arabia and all I got at the end was a text screen saying “Nope, hand’s still mingin'”

    • Mutak says:

      They’re actually already working on the next one: “Romeo and/or Juliet”

      No Joke: link to kickstarter.com

  4. MrFinnishDude says:

    Instantly recognized the the Kate Beaton art!
    You should check out her comic “Hark! A Vagrant” If your’e into history jokes.

  5. piratmonkey says:

    Thoroughly recommend the book, the writing and art are absolutely lovely.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    Kate beaton! I love her stuff. This looks lovely.

  7. Volcanu says:

    Well, all right, I’ll stop being Hamlet if you stop being……………..A massive tw@t.

  8. Ferno says:

    This looks like Hark a Vagrant! What a great comic.

  9. 9of9 says:

    Awesome stuff. Also worth watching: Elsinore, which is another non-linear Hamlet-inspired adventure game where you play as Ophelia, that will be Kickstarting March-ish. Check out link to elsinore-game.com

    Sadly no Kate Beaton art, but I think the world is big enough for two Hamlet games in one year!

  10. Mutak says:

    I’ve got the book and i’ll probably buy this too as soon as it goes on sale. Really funny stuff.

  11. April March says:

    Today, RPS posted about this.

    Today, RPS also posted about the revival of FMV games.

    This… is a sign.