The latest interactive narrative by Netflix is another choose your own adventure in a similar fashion to last year’s ‘Bandersnatch‘ episode of Black Mirror.
‘Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal’ is the latest amongst Netflix’s interactive storylines. What’s great about it is that with little exposition it begins right at the heat of the action, highlighting the series’ strengths by starting us off with a choose your own caper series of adventures. Thus, serving as a light introduction to those new to the storyline.
Those familiar with the series will note that the movie is light-hearted but action-packed. Knowledgable about its fanbase and the expected around-the-world adventures. Filled with many familiar characters established within the first two seasons, though in very little detail as it’s more for cameos than anything else.
Much like last year’s beloved ‘Bandersnatch’, the platform seeks to capitalize on the franchise’s target demographics: seeking to attract more youthful gamer types and those who grew up with the beloved children’s videogame series. All in hopes to recapture some of last year’s success and develop more choose your own adventure interactive stories.
And in all honesty… probably to better compete with videogames like Fortnite.
I’ve covered how excellent the first season of Carmen Sandiego was at the beginning of 2019. A series is so popular, it hosted a second season only 10 months later. Below, is a short review as to what ‘To Steal or Not to Steal’ is about and why you should try it out.
In the interactive special, Carmen loses her friends Zack and Ivy to VILE, the series central antagonists, who threaten to brainwash the pair into becoming their newest minions. Forced to work for the organization, Carmen goes on capers with Player, her tech-savvy companion, accomplishing a series of heists while stalling to find a way to rescue her friends.
All while YOU make Carmen’s decisions for her.
Much like in Bandersnatch, each decision-making juncture pauses the story and two options are presented. Each choice leading to an evitable one of eight different endings.
And while entertaining, it’s also quite campy and kid-friendly with stakes that never feel all too high. Every wrong decision is able to be backtracked to the moment of choice. With certain scenarios forcing a debriefing with the chief of Acme, who will imply what the ‘right decisions’ should have been, thus forcing a ‘try again’ approach in a similar manner that Steve had in the beloved Nickelodeon series: ‘Blues Clues’.
Which, I found a little condescending.
Though, there’s definitely replayability as to how the paths are chosen. With each decision and different approaches granting more details to the story. Highlighting features you might miss the first time around. Still, for something adapted from a beloved Netflix series, the approach feels a tad shallow. As nothing feels all that innovative or important about what choices get made.
Fun but forgettable. Which is disappointing as the series is excellent.
You can try ‘Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal’ right now.