Mystery and thriller apps are getting more and more sophisticated. We’ve seen a couple of good ones lately, and the latest to bash through that barrier between reading words and playing an interactive game is The Craftsman by Portal Entertainment. It’s a chilling mystery that comes off the screen and into your life, and looks very well produced.
We start off with a flashback where we meet Sophie, a student who looks out her window, naked, and seems to have some connection to someone out there in the darkness. So far so American Beauty, but then we jump forward into the present day. Sophie lives with her husband Henry and her daughter, but she still has a connection to whoever is out there in the night. The introductory videos, with their long silences and minimalist settings, certainly have an unnerving aura to them and soon Sophie is reaching out to you, the player, for help. Her husband’s involved in some kind of dark activity involving the art world.
There’s more to it than watching a video. You engage with the game by exploring websites – it seems the Shesha Gallery in Knightsbridge has an exhibition for The Craftsman coming up and maybe this relates to Henry’s activities. You’ll get letters and emails from Sophie, and you’ll even make and receive phone calls. Judging by the trailer (below) some strange artefacts and gutchurning rituals may crop up too… It sounds very involving and there’s a disclaimer at the beginning warning that the app is not for those of a nervous disposition.
The app is for iPad only at the moment, and the first day is free. “The story is told in five episodes over five days – one episode takes the whole of one day to play,” explains Julian McCrea at Portal. “You can put the app down and come back to it. If after Day 2, you go on holiday, the app knows that. Then when you come back, it starts at Day 3.”
He continues: “You use your actual phone, and the camera on our iPad, so the fiction ‘bleeds out’ from the iPad into your real-world setting, placing the audience inside the experience.”
Portal is also working on games called The Nightshift and The Fades, as well as one entitled Dead Man’s Tracks with English author Peter James.
After your first free day, the four further episodes cost £6.99 via an in-app purchase. This is a special price that runs until midnight GMT on Sunday 3 November, when it goes up to £9.99. If you want to a touch of suspense and mystery tonight – Halloween – then click here and try out The Craftsman. Check out the images and videos below, and if you do give it a swing, let us know what you think.