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This Is Not a Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

It's the end of the world as we know it

Product: This Is Not A Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel | Developer: Robot Monster Productions | Publisher: Robot Monster Productions | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.3
This Is Not A Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel iPhone, thumbnail 1
After thoroughly enjoying last year's The Walking Dead, I was keen to try another story-driven game with a tale that twists and turns depending on the decisions you make.

This Is Not a Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel is presented in a comic book-style, with a narrative that unfolds piece-by-piece, and choices to be made in each situation.

The story is entertaining, and in terms of presentation you can't fault Canadian developer Robot Monster. I just wish there were better options for replaying the game multiple times.

PSA: This is a game

Some sort of lethal gas is engulfing the world around you. Through a series of comic book panels, you follow the story of an apocalypse survivor - or victim, as it may transpire.

After reading each story panel, you're given multiple options on how to proceed through the story, and your choices affect where the story goes.

The game is presented wonderfully, and the choices feel genuinely meaningful as well as entertaining. The story branches off in many different directions, and there's plenty to see (and be killed by).

Along the way, there are several optional side-story options to read through too, in case you're the sort of player who likes to take in the full picture.

And you're also asked to choose specific skills at the beginning, which factor into the options you're granted. Essentially, This Is Not a Test presents you with a massive amount of choice, and you'll be playing for hours to discover everything it has to offer.

PSA: You are dead

But it's incredibly difficult - and not always in a good way.

You'll have to play the game through many, many times before you see the end, because it has a tendency to cut your life short.

Unfortunately, this can become a bit of a pain after a while, since there's no way to quickly restart from where you were up to, or reclaim your previous stuff. You're always thrown back to the start of the story, and have to do many of the same actions all over again.

And This Is Not a Test isn't just tricky - it's also very unfair at times, killing you off for daring to choose the obvious "safe" option.

It would also be great if the game remembered all the different ways that you had died, and stored them somewhere for you to cycle through.

But This Is Not a Test is a good start. With a few tweaks here and there it could have been great, and the sequel has every chance of blowing us away.
This Is Not a Test: A Post-Apocalyptic Prequel
Reviewer photo
Mike Rose | 4 September 2013
Although we'd like better replay options, This Is Not a Test is well presented and offers plenty of interesting story-based choices
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Jul 2012
Post count:
@RaveofRavendale | 09:53 - 5 September 2013
Hey Mr. Robot Monster,

I totally get where you're coming from with the not letting player skip back a page or two. I wonder, would it be a good compromise to maybe have specific checkpoints that people can jump back to? So for example, when I die instead of throwing me all the way back to the start of the story again, the game asks "do you want to go back to the last town/event/whatever and continue on from there?"

I just think that having to go through all that stuff over and over again (especially the gas station at the beginning) is quite the chore, especially after the 5th or 6th restart.

Sep 2013
Post count:
@RoboMoPro | 01:06 - 5 September 2013
Thanks for playing!

Just wanted to chime in with the disclaimer that this is definitely a difficult, perhaps "meat grinder" of a game, and that the unfortunate death handed to you may make you feel sadness and anger. We have to admit, we've always derived a twisted pleasure when our games win. We'll consider going easier on the humans in a future update -- we hear their suffering and feel remorse :)

We're very torn about the idea to let a player skip back a page after they die! We've heard, and we agree, that that was part of the fun of the old choose-your-own-adventure novels, but we worry that it would ruin your investment in your session. Maybe making more escapes from the "death" pages will make the replay easier to handle?

We were actually hoping that players would get fed up with the game, put it down, then have a nagging drive to pick it up and try it again later. Then the whole story would emerge over time. We've always been inspired by permadeath games, like The Binding of Isaac, and we're interested if that could translate into a text-based game.

One cool part of the project is that we're going to evolve the story and add branches based on community demand (it's one of the actual advantages you have as a text game). We're hoping the playerbase will actually suggest things they wanted to do that we didn't offer, and we'll build them in. Imagine a game that is a patchwork of its playerbase over several years. If anyone has any creative ideas and wants to leave a mark on this game, email your suggestion to admin@robotmonster.ca, or tweet at @RoboMoPro, and we'll write it in (unless, you know...). We're going to continue working with Jeff Edwards, the project's illustrator, if anyone has anything particularly stellar.

We're in the process of setting up forums to try and build a community of players, but for now, just drop us a line.

-Your Pal Robot Monster