By Louis Sylvester
When I was a kid, I loved to read books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. The stories found within did not contain the typical linear plotlines of most books. Rather, you would read a few paragraphs and then be presented with options leading you to choose what you wanted to happen next in the story. Would you open the coffin, descend into the basement, or dive into the murky water? You would make your choice and turn to the page it directed you to and continue reading. The adventure was interactive and allowed for multiple plays. I read dozens of these books when I was young, but over the years this style of narrative seemed to disappear. Until recently.
With Graphic Novel Adventures (1 player, 30-130 minutes, Age: 12+), publisher Van Ryder Games brings back the thrill of a multiple-choice reading adventure. Just like before, the books allow the reader to make interesting choices and direct their own progress through the story, but this time the stories are told with wonderful art in comic book form.
To date, 10 graphic novels have been released. In each comic, you are the hero, making choices that affect the course of the story. Much like the text-based adventure books, the graphic novel numbers the comic panels. As you read through, you will come to decision points and progress according to your choices. Many of the books are quite involved and require you to track your health, wealth, and skill development using a character sheet (which can be photocopied or downloaded.) Best of all, the graphic novels reward close examination of each comic panel as often there are clues, traps, and riddles hidden within the art.
The current titles available include a wide-range of themes that will appeal to nearly anyone. You can play as Sherlock Holmes and solve mysteries. Perhaps you will be turned into a werewolf on the run from a vicious hunter. You might become a superhero or a pirate. You can even take on the role of a cowboy who helps to develop an old western town deep in the wild frontier. As with any game, you can lose but if your adventure didnt go well, simply turn back to the front of the graphic novel and head down a different path.
These books are hardbound and the art in each is beautiful. They can be purchased individually or in a five-book slipcover set that looks amazing on your bookshelf. Of course, reading through a Graphic Novel Adventure is a solo activity, but once you have exhausted a story, you can hand the book over to a friend or family member.
Sylvester is an associate professor in the creative writing program at Lewis-Clark State College. He is the co-author of Legends of the Lost Causes series, a rip-roaring adventure set in the fantasy West, available now. You can send him your questions about tabletop games at email@example.com.