iPoe 2 Review
Featuring The Raven and other terrifying tales, iPoe 2 brings Edgar Allen Poe’s nightmarish short stories to life on iPhone and iPad
Edgar Allen Poe was without doubt one of the best horror writers to have ever lived, and his work has already been brilliantly represented and reimagined once for mobile devices. Now there is a second volume of the classic works of the gothic writer available on iOS. On the App Store this might be an easy app to skip over or pass you by – taken on icon and name alone – but if you’re someone who is willing to give something different a try you then will be greatly rewarded. Poe’s stories are presented as illustrated and interactive works that support the text wonderfully, enhancing rather than overshadowing the original genius – the story itself.
Though Poe’s stories are undoubtedly timeless, the 21st century face lift they have been given is a big part of why this app is so engaging and thrilling. The artwork is breathtaking and at times truly frightening, giving extra weight to some already chilling tales. Users are advised to wear headphones when reading the stories and this is something that we second wholeheartedly. The music is perhaps the unsung hero of this app – a completely original score that changes and evolves as you flick through the pages and change stories. It prolongs your suspense and heightens the whole experience in much the same way that it would in a big movie, and it’s such a satisfying comparison to make with something that you’re interacting with on your iPad. Even if you’re not already familiar with the stories, the app and its design ensure that you wont quickly forget them.
Featuring the infamous long poem The Raven (yes, the one from The Simpsons Halloween special) and other stories Hop-Frog and The Black Cat, each one is designed to look as though they are traditional storybooks, complete with colourful borders and chapter breaks themed with the story. The pages of text are then quite wonderfully broken up by the appearance of a fullscreen artwork that comes to life when you tap and interact with it. You can drag objects around the screen as well as simply tap them to start an animation sequence.
The actual functionality of the app is kept quite minimal, with an on-screen menu used to navigate between pages as well as take you back to the homepage. You can swipe to turn pages also, but this is actually the only aspect of the app that is a little temperamental and not always instantly responsive. Overall though things are kept very simple in terms of gestures and interactive shortcuts, iPoe 2 wants you to spend your tapping time bringing the various pieces of artwork to life, and turn pages in fear of what is to come.
Users who are already familiar with iPoe will see much of the same recipe that made the first volume of stories such a compelling piece of digital reading. But there is no doubting that everything feels a little more intense this time. There are more fullscreen animations, and indeed more of them in general that help to create the feeling you are closer to the centre of the narrative, and in a sense more vulnerable to its terror. It’s a very cool effect that seems to have come about from minimal changes in the way the app is presented and experienced, but you will certainly notice it. Perhaps it’s something to do with the stories involved?
One thing that is most definitely new is the special features section at the end of the collection, where not only is there a sketches section for users who wish to admire the app’s artwork in its original form, but also a short interactive section dedicated to the different places in which Poe lived and wrote. While iPoe 2 is most definitely meant to be seen and used as an entertainment app, there is still an undercurrent of celebration to the way it is presented – showing off the work of Poe in new ways and to a new audience without compromising the artistic integrity of the original content.
It can be argued that when the source material is this good, developers would struggle to not make this app appealing, but the way in which these classic stories have been reimagined makes iPoe 2 – much the same as the original iPoe app – a credit to the App Store. This is an app that deserves your attention and the chance to shred your nerves to pieces.
Dark and chilling tales given a vicious edge by stunning artwork, iPoe 2 takes an impressive step forward.
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