Skip to content

Penrose – a mysterious, compelling interactive story

Price: £1/$1
Version: 1.0.3
Size: 124.3 MB
Developer: doublespeak games
Platform: iPhone / iPad


Narrative, text-based games have found a fairly loyal home on the iPhone. In many ways, it’s well-suited – many want a little more from their novels, and many want a little more depth to their games.

Games like Penrose fill that void by offering an intriguing story punched up by gameplay mechanics. These range from modernized “choose your own adventure” books where the story follows your decisions, to the insertion of little games or puzzles into a comic book storyline, like in Florence.

The prose style is short and snappy and easy to follow

Penrose employs all of these techniques through a variety of narrative paths, supported by text that is often short and sharp. This adds urgency to your decision-making and maintains suspense amidst a slick pace.

Another element that these game novels can employ is a soundtrack, of which Penrose’s original composition really puts to work. It’s eerie, creepy, and is all the better when used with headphones under a blanket with the lights off.

“But what’s it all about? Give us the back cover blurb,” we hear you cry.

There are a variety of stylistic design choices when it comes to making decisions

Well, there’s a reason the App Store doesn’t have a description of the story itself as there’s little that can be said without spoiling the plot. Not only that, the storyline we played through may differ from what you experience.

Furthermore, and we’ll have to let you in on a few secrets here to explain some of the mechanics, but it’s possible for the game to end very quickly. At frequent junctions in the text, you’re asked to make decisions. In many games of this ilk, your choices determine almost solely the next bit of text, but in Penrose your decisions are subject to the butterfly effect.

Say you wanted to proceed and you had a choice between a lit passageway, and a dark, uncertain one. Which would you choose? Well, that decision, which involves powering up the lights may also result in powering something else that may lead to game over. Sneaky.

You can track the path you took, as well as the others you haven’t

But it’s not all about avoiding untimely demise, the game also allows you to proceed and switch between different characters.

Design-wise, the game also provides you a decent rundown of your journey. The menu provides a path which shows where the various offshoots are, including which ones you’ve taken. In terms of its artistic approach, we actually found the text a little small for our (apparently) super old eyes, but the short paragraphs and simple yet descriptive language helped us play through.

Overall, for a buck you can’t go wrong with Penrose. Give it a shot, it’s a great story.

  Share Article