Uniquely told thrillers for your iPhone
Price: Free (IAP)
Size: 80.7 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Love horror stories? Hooked might be for you. The app houses a catalog of intense, twist-driven tales that are delivered through an engaging multimedia approach. In each tale, you watch a series of text messages play out over a series of chapters between characters – many of whom are not what they seem.
The app itself has a horde of dedicated fans – but its App Store reviews, though generally good, highlight a few issues that we came into contact with ourselves.
First, let’s look at the type of app this is. Hooked belongs in the genre of semi-interactive storytelling in which the reader is immersed in the action. There’s a voyeuristic pleasure that comes from the feeling that you are eavesdropping on a conversation. Take one of the tales we read – ‘Life of the Party’, which tells the story of Lynn, who arrives early to her boyfriend Nate’s birthday party in the woods. His slightly off-kilter friend Brad is already there – uninvited. You start the story with Nate warning Lynn off him, before it veers off into a much darker tale.
While it starts promising, with text messages sent back and forth alongside photos of the characters and the surroundings, it does break the fourth wall somewhat as you progress. By this, we mean that as the action gathers pace, characters start to narrate parts of the story, while another disembodied narrator crops up on the screen to explain what’s actually happening in real time.
Though these descriptions help with the flow and clarity of the storytelling, other apps of this ilk – which house the stories in a much wider context, allowing you to navigate around the protagonist’s phone and investigate back story – Hooked keeps you at arm’s length. Though the story is better for it, we wonder if it’s betraying the genre a little bit.
However, Hooked has a lot of stories, and its approach focuses more on providing new experiences than housing fewer stories within a more walled-in architecture. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. And it’s clear a whole ton of work goes into each story – design is unique across stories and you can either listen with or without audio, providing the option to listen to decent voice actors tell the story.
Elsewhere, many reviews have noted the pricing structure. To access the full library you’ll have to pay a $4.99 weekly subscription (or $14.99 monthly, or $39.99 annually for the best value). That is not cheap. Though the stories are good and obviously require a lot of resources to create, we question whether this will lead to a loyal readership, or whether it will rely on users signing up for a week or two and then losing interest, unable to justify the cost.
Hooked is a fascinating app, full of great horror and thriller stories, and really does something different with this style of app. If you like twists, turns, and adventure, then give it a shot – it comes with a 7-day free trial – but prepare to pay out pretty big for the full, long-term experience.