Thursday, November 15, 2007

Knock Knock

Today's jawsome revue is a revue of something that is basically jawsome* -- Jason Shiga's Knock Knock, an interactive comic book that knock knocked my socks off! Now that that's out of my system, on with the revue.

What exactly is an interactive comic book, you say? I've seen this book referred to as a Choose Your Own Adventure-style book, but to me it's more like solving a puzzle by finding the correct path. Granted, if I recall correctly the CYOA books had quite a few insta-death endings (resulting in having several pages bookmarked for easy backtracking), but this has only one true ending and thus the adventure is already chosen for you. Anyway, it's interactive because on each page, there are several (and I mean several) objects to interact with/actions, and you get to choose which one by turning to the designated page. Pretty cool, huh?

I can't really say much because I don't want to give any hints, so I'll talk about the presentation instead. It's "handmade" which probably means self-published at a local copy shop, which is pretty awesome, except after two run-throughs I'm worried about the binding coming loose. The cover is made to resemble a door, with a handle and an actual hole for the peephole, with the sound effect "KNOCK KNOCK!" emblazoned on it. When you open it, you're face to face with the dude on the other end (featured later in the actual book). The inside face of the cover has instructions, and page 2 has a reminder to read the instructions in case you're a douche and didn't read them. There is a noticeable lack of any kind of attribution to an author, which is unfortunate, but I guess if you bought it you probably know who made it. Still, weird.

The pages change color midway through the book; I guess they ran out of white paper at the copier? Leafing through it (after "winning"), I found an easter egg (I guess?), plus cheat protection, which rules. A large portion of the losing paths are worth following, for either a) clues on how to win, b) insight into the characters and your current predicament, or c) hilarious death scenes. Yeah, that's right, there's characterization going on in this game too! As I died in sundry ways, I developed a deep sense of loathing for the killer and a desire to emerge heroic and victorious.

The cool thing about it being in book form as opposed to being, say, a strip on the internet or a point-and-click game or something, is how simple and self-contained it is. It's just this impenetrable thing of 500 pages waiting for you to unlock its secrets. Pretty neat.

And when you do win? One nit to pick here: it is difficult to immediately understand the implications because it's hard to see what is going on in one of the most important panels. But the panels following it are just confusing enough for you to go back and -- that is when the full awesome, nay, jawsomeness, of the ending hits you.

So yeah, I'm now on the quest to acquire the other books in Shiga's oeuvre -- the ones that are available, that is. It is both cool and annoying that they are hard to find. He has made a great deal of them available to read for free on his website, but this is a rare occasion when having the physical copy is important to me. I'm even tempted to get a second copy of Knock Knock since I don't think I want to loan mine out.

If you decide to give this book a "Berry Good", turn to page 23.
If you decide to give this book a "Peary Good", turn to page 40.

* Basically jawsome defined as having a jawsome content of 98% or higher.

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