[Ed. note: This ranked list is being continually updated as Netflix adds more interactive specials.]
Since 2017, Netflix has been investing in interactive specials — hybrid movie and game experiences based on pre-existing franchises, letting viewers participate in the stories they’re watching. It’s an ongoing experiment, closely tied to Netflix’s desire to get into game production, but it’s had mixed success so far.
Netflix’s initial interactive titles were all tailored toward kids, but with the release of 2018’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and 2019’s You vs. Wild, the streamer’s ambitions clearly started expanding. Most of Netflix’s interactive specials take place in the worlds of existing series, though BandersnatchSince then, it has largely stood alone. Black MirrorAnthology Show, You vs. WildBear Grylls just hamming things up in the natural world. These shows allow viewers to decide how they want events to unfold. How fun is this special? Is it interactive? How interactive are our choices?
With Netflix’s spooky WWE tie-in Escape the Undertaker out now, we took a look back at all the streaming site’s interactive specials and adjusted our ongoing rankings, based on how much fun each one is, what kind of stories they’re telling, and whether the viewer’s choices actually have any effect on the story.
Honorable mention: Headspace – Unwind your Mind
[Disclosure: Unwind Your Mind is a collaboration between Headspace and Vox Media Studios, a unit of Polygon’s parent company Vox Media.]
OK, so this interactive experience shouldn’t even really count as an interactive experience, but it falls under the Netflix Interactive label, so we’re counting it. This is the most interactive aspect of it. You can choose which Headspace program that you would like: sleep, relaxation or meditation. You can customize from there, but it’s basically just a glorified menu. Useful for what it’s meant for, but not so much for a fun and engaging experience.
15. You vs. Wild
The interactive Bear Grylls original special is really dull. Every episode takes Grylls to a different environment where his adventures unfold like an episode on his TV show. Man versus WildExcept technically, viewers have the option to select their survival actions. But almost every choice either ends in instant failure or prompts you to the “correct” path. The series never really feels interactive, and it plays out like a pop quiz in how well-versed audience members are with Grylls’ personal survival preferences. (Yes, he wants to eat bugs — he always wants to eat bugs.)
It sounds absurd and could be played for laughter. Grylls could freeze into an ice cube cartoonishly, which would be a grandiose fail. But the producers take the idea very seriously, which means it’s just a forgettable experience.
14. Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile
Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe PileThis is a very simple idea. Buddy the Stunt-Driver Dog and Darnell, his buddy from Stop-motion Series Buddy Thunderstruck need to decide what wild thing they want to do, so they consult their bag of “maybe” ideas and pick two. The viewers get to decide which one they will try. There’s no overarching narrative whatsoever. Player choice is limited between two ridiculous options — drink three espresso drinks or make a pizza with every possible topping, for instance.
While each fun choice results in a different scene, the one immediately following plays out exactly the same as if you’d picked the other choice. While you can pick between exploring a sewer and trying super powers, the scenes you see are completely different. However, both Buddy and Darnell get to go to the same doctor afterwards.
Let’s see what happens The Maybe Pile a slight uptick, though, is that it’s actually kinda funny, and at the very least more entertaining than You vs. WildIt is. It’s very much the type of humor that will send a 10-year-old boy rolling on the floor: It’s basically JackassIt’s for children. And hey, sometimes the perfect late-morning pick-me-up is seeing Buddy and Darnell dive into a sewage pit, rejoicing about how they’ve found the Fountain of Youth, then realizing what they’ve done.
13. Kimmy vs. Kimmy vs.
It Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtThis interactive special is set after the final episode of Season 1. Kimmy has been engaged to Daniel Radcliffe’s handsome prince. After finding a strange book in her backpack she realizes the reverend that kidnapped and kept her captive in underground bunker, may also have another bunker with women, so she set out to find them.
Kimmy vs. Kimmy vs.It has some funny moments. The scenes leading to the selection of options are among the most enjoyable interactive specials. Instead of repeating the choices or gazing at expectantly, they actually make a joke about it. However, the choice selections themselves can be disappointing. Pick the “wrong” one, and the story instantly ends in failure, which isn’t fun. Although the trend of quick failure is evident in many titles, it’s even more noticeable in this one. Kimmy and the Reverend, because the characters call you out on diverting from the sitcom’s characterizations. This one is also longer than most of Netflix’s interactive shows, so getting a “Game Over” really grinds the experience to a halt.
On a more metatextual level, it just seems a little odd that even though you’re supposed to be helping Kimmy find agency and heal from her past, the game basically takes away any agency by forcing certain options on you. The only actual difference in endings comes from a side plot with Kimmy’s friends Titus and Jacqueline.
12. Epic Choice of a Rama Captain Underpants
Epic Choice-oRama The cartoon features Harold Hutchins, a grade-school cartoonist and George Beard as they save their treehouse from the controlling Principal Krupp. The neighbor may be an action film star or retired celebrity.
There are only a handful of choices in the Captain Underpants Special that have any real impact. When you make what appears to be the most important choice, the two options that play out the hypothetical situation will force you choose the third. Many of the options have a clear right and wrong — with the wrong one just immediately segueing into the “right” choice. Many of the options are only to show a different clip. For example, when Harold and George debate which movie they should watch. The longer, more rambling sections have fewer choices. Not a very fun play, unless you’re very into Captain Underpants.
An interactive adventure that is inspired by a Netflix cartoon.The Last Kids of Earth: A Happy Apocalypse for You follows the characters of Netflix’s post-apocalyptic adventure series. Jack, the plucky leader of the title’s last kids on earth, wants to throw a party for his crush June, so the four protagonists cross the monster-filled wasteland where they live, trying to find necessary party components: cake, balloons, and a nacho-cheese fountain.
You can choose from a variety of branches A Happy Apocalypse To YouHowever, the final outcome is still essentially a matter of Instant Success or Failure. While some choices can have an impact on the endgame, they are not sufficient to change the outcome of the story. Even though there are some cute interludes, most of the choices provide enough entertainment and variety to keep you engaged. Make a “wrong” choice here, and you might get an extra fluffy scene, then revert back to the two other choices.
10. Enjoy Spirit Riding Without Charge
Based on Spirit riding is freeThe animated series ‘Animated Series’ is loosely inspired from the DreamWorks 2002 movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Ride Along AdventureA group of brave young teens and their horses are featured in this story. This show technically takes place in the Wild West, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the very modern-looking clothes and attitudes. Three out of four of the horse girls distract the fourth’s horse for the day so the girl can prepare a surprise party for her steed. What started out as an easy riding adventure quickly turns dangerous when the horse is kidnapped. The girls need to save it.
Feel free to ride along with Spirit RidersThese lower-ranked specials fall into the same traps as some of their lesser-acclaimed counterparts. If the viewer picks “wrong” choice, the story just pivots seamlessly to the “right” one. The storylines are the same regardless of what choice you made. A few early choices do affect the endgame scenarios, however, which does give this one a leg up on the entries that generally don’t factor in earlier conditions.
9. Animals on the Loose: You vs. Wild Movie
Credit must be given where credit is due — the second Bear Grylls interactive adventure is leagues better than the first. Now there is a loose narrative. Bear must repair the fence that protects a forest and catch any animals who have fled. Bear has several missions that he needs to complete. It is up to you which order they are picked in. This is where you will find a multi-faceted path.
There are a few instant-endgame choices, but they don’t end the entire experience, just the individual mission. These choices are much more interesting than those in the original You Vs. Wild interactive adventure. Bear is seen fighting in water with a boa constrictor, and another offers him the chance to bait a lion by offering his meat or offering to be a bait. Some of the choices don’t matter (no matter which grub you eat, for instance, nothing seems to change), but there is enough variability to make for a fun time.
There are long periods of time when there’s no other choice, and Bear just goes with the flow. If you allow Bear to wander about the coastlines or take a walk, then it is possible that you will miss an opportunity.
8. Carmen Sandiego: Steal or not to Steal
You can currently play the Carmen Sandiego interactive adventure. After Carmen’s friends Ivy and Zack are kidnapped by the evil organization VILE, the game unfolds with various heists Carmen must undertake to appease VILE.
While definitely one of the most aesthetically pleasing Netflix interactive adventures — the animated series itself has some stunning moments — it jarringly forces viewers down one path at the beginning. You are prompted by the viewer to save Zack and Ivy or steal VILE. In the first case, you’ll be prompted to rescue Zack and Ivy or steal for VILE. Lots of other choices unfold in frustratingly similar ways: pick a course of action, and you’re seamlessly pushed into the option you didn’t select. There are several options with different consequences that affect the success of endings. But toward the end of the story, there’s only one clear branch. Carmen will take over most of these missions. The order is not changed.
7. Wild or You?
This time around, Bear Grylls’ creative team understood the assignment! Every iteration You vs. Wild interactive franchise has vastly improved on the last, and the third one is an actual survival adventure, with the viewer’s choices actually making canonical sense. In this interactive special, Grylls wakes up after a plane crash, and he’s forgotten who he is — and all of his survival skills. He has vague hunches about what he’s supposed to do, but he asks the viewer to contribute at each step.
The initial set of choices — seeking food, water, or shelter — do skew into the usual territory, where if you pick the wrong choice, the story immediately segues into the right one, or into endgame. Once Grylls has obtained his survival needs, it is time to embark on a rescue mission. The big decision is made: Do you hike over mountains or traverse some dark tunnels? And that choice isn’t the only major one in the story. Each path offers other, smaller choices — does Bear press through his altitude sickness, or wait it out? Is he using tiles or knots to mark his route?
The answers to each question affect the ending game conditions. They also determine what extra steps must be taken to ensure Grylls safety. Grylls’ acting is incredibly wooden at times, but overall, this interactive is a MassiveImproved results over the initial You vs. Wild experience, and it’s an engaging play itself.
Based on Puss in bootsThe animated Netflix series, which was created from the Shrek film franchise’s Shrek movies, has been spun off as an animated Netflix series. The Puss In Book: A Tale of Epic Traps The swashbuckling feline hero is thrown into a magic book by a cheeky narration who plans to trap him so that he can tell various fairy tales. You can choose from a Sinbad-style tale of pirates or a Snow White tribute, and you have the ability to control small parts of the story.
Book Pussy in the BooksThere are many endings and branches to the story. The book can be broken out in many different ways. However, the most important aspect of Puss in Boots Interactive Special is its tone. With more enthusiasm than ever, it repeatedly breaks down the fourth wall. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s sly references. Puss asks viewers for certain choices. The narrator then delights in torturing the audience and trying to get them to take part. One branch is where Puss learns how to control the story. This leads to some truly hilarious moments, as Puss forces his former enemies to dance and sing.
5. Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout
Stretch Armstrong at the Breakout Follow the Flex Fighters. These three students are super-powered and have been framed by their high-tech billionaire mentor as criminals. The city is being attacked by a large number of criminals.
The game is difficult to understand if viewers don’t have a lot of knowledge about the series. However, after a few clicks the story becomes much more clear. Similar to the Carmen Sandiego video, The Breakout tends to respond to “wrong” choices by pivoting you back to the “correct” one. However, unlike other animals Carmen Sandiego Oder Kimmy Schmidt Fewer wrong decisions result in failure. Some choices may not be important, but there are many that offer different branches and specific outcomes. Multi-Farious, the lumbering villain, is responsible for destroying a skyscraper. Flex Fighters are the other option. Multi Farious must choose between fighting against an electric-powered foe. There are actually different ways things can unfold — with only a few frustrating game-overs.
4. Boss Baby – Get That Baby
Who would’ve thought that the Boss Baby interactive special would crack the top 5? Each of these specials can learn something from Boss Baby: Have That BabyIt is. It’s not that the special has more branching paths than some of the others — it’s that it’s that the presentation itself makes some early endgames actually enjoyable.
Boss Baby Interactive Special is an interactive simulation that aims to show the user which Baby Corp department makes most sense. This makes even the earliest endgames seem like achievements. The Boss Baby Universe has three villains out to get revenge. You must help the Boss Baby, his older brother and stop them. No matter which villain’s scheme you pick, the characters start out in a hay bale maze. The next set of events will be different depending on whether you win or lose the maze. You have clear options with consequences. You will also need to work out some puzzles, which I believe are quite difficult for the target audience of young people.
In general Take care of that baby!Interactive special that is engaging and funny.
3. Escape the Undertaker
Not only are there multiple different endgames in Netflix’s crossover project with World Wrestling Entertainment, those endgames are actually affected by viewer choices. This is what makes it so special. Escape the Undertaker This interactive is one of Netflix’s most powerful yet. For one thing, user decisions don’t lead to dead ends — instead, they offer different points of view for how the story pans out. Escape the Undertaker is less about making “correct” choices, and more about exploration. The story is about three wrestlers, who travel to an eerie mansion in order to seize the Urn of Mark William Calaway (aka The Undertaker). (In WWE lore, it’s what gives him his powers.) Users are asked to choose one of three wrestlers from the beginning. This allows them to explore the mansion, and to find creepy artifacts Undertaker has stored within.
The paths themselves aren’t wildly different, and the story still progresses in a pretty linear fashion, save for the exact order of exploration in a few areas. Despite the differences, this interactive is one of my favorite. It’s also just absurd Fun! The acting is stilted and cheesy, but when you’re trying to steal a soul-sucking urn from a retired Halloween-themed wrestler, there is no such thing as subtlety. It’s ridiculous, and it’s honestly just funTo see all the branches. The early emphasis was on discovering, and not failing or passing.
This Emmy-winning Emmy episode was the only standalone. Black MirrorA young game designer sets his sights on making an interactive video game. Meta? Meta, right? Book Pussy in the Books’ approach to joyously interrogating the fourth wall, BandersnatchIt is dark and fueled with paranoia, drugs and focusing more on the illusions of free will rather than the true nature of the medium. But we wouldn’t expect anything less from Black Mirror
You have many choices Bandersnatch They are not important, but they are large enough to pivot the story. You can also choose from multiple significant endings which is unusual for an interactive Netflix experience. Bandersnatch doesn’t have a “good” ending — all of them are terrible for the protagonist to some degree, which makes it a grim experience. But it’s a more intricate one than some of the other specials.
Story Mode is the only one of Netflix’s choose-your-own-adventure stories so far that actually plays like a game and not an interactive video. Perhaps that’s not a surprise, given that it’s a partnership between Netflix and Telltale Games, and it’s based on a game. It does that automatically make the experience better? It sure makes it feel more interactive, like you’re actually participating in the story. You These aren’t just guiding characters to a choice — you areThe Minecraft universe.
You can start from the beginning. Story ModeTwo versions of the protagonist are offered to viewers, giving the story an almost game feel. These choices are made frequently and, while they don’t all lead to separate stories, they can customize the experience. You can either be friendly with rivals or a little bit jerk. Or you could fall somewhere between. There may be puzzle sequences you have to solve. Not every choice significantly affects the story, but they all feel like they’re expanding the experience. It’s closer to being a visual novel than any of the other titles.
Additionally, Story ModeIt is stronger and longer, with five almost hour-long episodes. Each episode has multiple parts. The average time for these titles, including those targeted at children, is just under half an hour. It’s a meaty game to dig into, especially for Minecraft fans, and definitely the Netflix interactive experience that actually feels the most interactive.
#Netflixs #interactive#shows #movies