Interactive storybooks are like a double-edged sword: they can persuade the most reluctant readers, but if poorly designed the interactive features just distract from actually reading. The best storybook apps for kids should be designed in a way where the interactions drive the story instead, just like in Chocolapps’s new app, The Amazing Quest, the forgotten treasure.
Released last week, the app is a book/game hybrid where you piece together various puzzles to advance the story. It includes not just one, but five alternate stories across varied and colorful environments.
The Forgotten Treasure
The main plot in The Amazing Quest, the forgotten treasure is about an adventurous child who tails two explorers on their quest for treasure, and outsmarts them before running off with the loot. It is presented in different environments depending on the alternative you choose, for example, there is an Asian version, a pirate version, and an Egyptian version. There are also versions set in the Middle Ages and the Far West.
At the beginning of the app, you select the alternative you want to read, and a difficulty level (easy or hard) for the games. Then, you choose a boy or girl who will be the main character. You can also pick out a costume for him or her.
Next comes the story part. First, a narrator will read a short passage describing the event that is supposed to happen. You will notice there are several discrepancies between the text and the current scene; for example, the narrator will tell of a snowstorm, but the scene is actually sunny. Your task is to correct these discrepancies by tapping on the appropriate objects to transform the scene.
For example, if the narrator says it should be snowing, you must find and tap on the snowflake icon within the scene to make it snow. This rule also applies to other elements, including characters, costumes, and places.
Each time you make a correction, you will earn a star on the bottom of the page. Once you have collected all the stars on a page, you can watch the corrected scene as an animated clip before advancing to the next part of the story. Occasionally, you will also stumble upon mini-games.
After you finish an adventure, you have the option to replay it in story mode. Here, the puzzles have been stripped away so you can enjoy the animated story from start to finish without interruption.
Parents Need to Know
The app is best suited for ages 6+ as it requires moderate reading and listening, as well as keen observation. It offers two difficulty levels — noted by one or two stars — where the most difficult level poses a challenge even for grown-ups. If you are only starting the app, I would suggest selecting the easy level first. Fortunately, the app is also lenient in that you can retry the games infinitely (or optionally, skip them altogether) if you fail.
One thing to note is that the app requires a sizable amount of space. The download size is almost 700MB, and when installed the app will take up over 1GB on the device. I suppose it is due to the large number of animations involved, but I do wish the file size could be smaller.
Once installed, the app works well in Airplane mode. It contains no in-app purchases and no third-party ads. A newsletter subscription box and links to the developer’s other apps are visible on the main screen, but to access either you must solve a random math problem.
The Amazing Quest, the forgotten treasure is available in several languages: French, English, Spanish, Portuguese German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Turkish and Dutch. It is available now as a Universal app on the App Store.
Things I Like
The Amazing Quest, the forgotten treasure is a unique concept to promote reading and listening comprehension. Because the story only advances if you manage to solve the puzzles, you have no choice but to pay attention to the narration. Eventually, you will hone your observation skills and logic by involving yourself in the adventure.
Design-wise, the app has a nice selection of illustrations and animations. The character designs feel stereotypical to me, but I suppose it is to differentiate between each alternate adventure. I do appreciate that you can choose a girl or a boy as your main character, and dress him or her up in gender-neutral costumes.
Overall, this is a great and engaging app. One minor annoyance is that you have to go through a lot of loading screens. In hindsight this is a small price to pay to get all the animations, but it does take away from the experience a bit.
A clever interactive adventure that promotes reading comprehension. Using logic and observation, players must solve puzzles to drive the story forward. Five alternate stories, each set in a unique environment, are included for variety. Good fun for kids ages 6 and up.
App was provided for our honest review.