Consequences of Choice: A Playthrough Reading
“Along the Edge is an interactive graphic novel,” states the very first screen upon the beginning of a new save file. The most recent creation from Nova-box, Along the Edge is what some people would call a computer game. Purchasable on Steam, a marketplace for computer games, the argument is even more persuasive. A story accompanied by visuals, music, and places for your computer mouse to click and interact, it seems to play like a computer game. The element that separates it from being simply a computer game is precisely what Nova-box smartly put within the first moment of gameplay: “interactive graphic novel.”
The interactive graphic novel is the amalgamation of book and game. Segmented into chapters, story driven, and featuring visuals far more similar to picture books than to fast-paced video games, Along the Edge is an immersive introduction to the world of digital literature.
The story is simple in premise. You play as Daphne, a woman who has both broken up with her previous boyfriend and found out that her grandmother has died and left her an estate in the countryside of France. You proceed to play the game by making choices as the story progresses. As Daphne moves through the story, she can treat the townspeople with indifference, emotion, or reason and each choice will affect the next step and chapter of the story.
My first playthrough took about three and a half hours. Several playthroughs later, I had unlocked achievements related to the story outcomes. “Cartesian Mind,” “Short Hair Don’t Care,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” and “Love At First Sight” are only a few of the possible achievements that hint at how your choices can change Daphne’s story. These achievements are in-game goals that exist to motivate the player. Some can only be achieved through particular play styles and thus they encourage the player to replay the interactive graphic novel. Not only that, but they remind the player that there is in fact more than one way to experience the story.
Beyond the ”forging of a new life” trope, Daphne’s world can either be plunged into superstition and witchcraft or remain in the world of science and reason based on your choices. A useful dial at the top of the screen points to multiple symbols that glow with each choice you make, cluing you in to how the course of events are beginning to be affected. Alongside the occult, Daphne must also make choices about her love life. Achievements I have not been able to unlock because I frankly adore Stanislas too much are “Mending the Wound” and “One Year of Solitude” in which, I assume, Daphne rekindles her love with her ex or chooses neither romance option.
The seemingly playfulness of the options and the power of you as the player to redo the story time and time again, to experience new art, new attitudes as you offend or please different individuals, does initially fail to draw attention to the importance of playing as Daphne and choosing from the many ways of life.
The beauty of the interactive graphic novel is the ability to understand that in life there are choices. Separating yourself from Along the Edge and alternatively most titles in the interactive graphic novel genre and creating a division between “real life” and “game” completely ignores the most fascinating aspect of the “game:” life is not a series of chapters statically printed on paper. We reminisce about what could have been not because we think nothing would have changed but because we recognize that change is possible.
Not only that, but through choices, Along the Edge discusses the important way we construct our identities using the active construction of Daphne’s identity. As a player, you control her romance, her career, and her relationships with other people. Your choice affects her involvement in the sciences or the occult, giving the game completely different atmospheres and Daphne, in effect, a different appearance.
Along the Edge is a fantastic introduction to the graphic novel. With beautifully made visuals, a haunting and elegant soundtrack, and an engaging storyline, it is difficult to say that Along the Edge is not worth quite a few playthroughs. It was not a chore to enjoy and that was it’s greatest asset: the ability to invite readers into a new genre and medium without frightening them off.
You can find Along the Edge here.
Nova-box is the company behind the interactive graphic novel Along the Edge. Based in Bordeaux, France, they work as a mobile agency, web agency, and as an R and D lab. Along the Edge is their most recent project, their others are listed on their site http://www.nova-box.com.