Before "interactive movie" video games told sweeping stories that players could steer by making decisions, there were Choose Your Own Adventure books that … well, let readers choose their own adventure. Streaming video technology has now allowed Netflix to embrace the concept and release its first interactive "branching" narrative program that gives viewers a say in how the story progresses.
The interactive episodes play out much like a normal video, but at certain points throughout the action stops and viewers are presented with a choice on screen. They can then select what they want to see happen using either the TV remote, touchscreen or game controller, depending on what device they're watching on.
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Launched globally on the streaming service this week, the first interactive episode is called Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, starring Puss in Boots from Dreamworks' Shrek series. Puss finds himself trapped in the story of Goldilocks, and viewers make decisions such as whether the Three Bears are friendly or not.
As the choice of subject suggests, Netflix has focused on kids content for now, with the company reasoning that kids are already eager to interact with characters on-screen. It's definitely an interesting idea, and might make shows rewatchable just to see what could happen if you make different choices. Not that kids seem to mind watching the same things over and over anyway.
After Puss in Boots, Netflix says a second interactive title will launch on July 14 called Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, followed by Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout sometime in 2018.
For now, the interactive content is available on most Smart TVs, streaming media players, game consoles and iOS devices, but the company says it doesn't work yet on Android devices, Chromecast, Apple TV or the Netflix website. Watching the episodes on these devices will instead just play through a normal linear version, where the choices are made for you.
Check out the interactive episodes in the (old-fashioned non-interactive) video below.