Guide Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet Sr. to hundreds of hilarious deaths in Ryan North's chooseable-path edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet!
User reviews:
Very Positive (84 reviews) - 92% of the 84 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 4, 2015

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“An energising and hilariously funny version of Hamlet, Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be is a crucial gamebook for literature buffs and comedy fans alike”
9/10 – Pocketgamer

“This game is utterly uproarious, and Tin Man did a great job at using their gamebook engine, along with their visual and music touches, at making this come to life.”
5/5 – Touch Arcade

“ idea that is, by most conventional literary standards, terrible, but pushed so far past terrible that it wraps around like a comet slingshotting around the sun and comes back as utterly brilliant.”

Feature List

Key Features

  • Tiny Yorick skulls mark the choices Shakespeare took in his play: follow them for the original story, or abandon them whenever you want to create your own adventure! It’s up to YOU.
  • Play as three different characters, each with their own unique adventures: Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet’s dad, King Hamlet! (Spoiler alert: you get ghost powers and then must INVESTIGATE YOUR OWN MURDER).
  • Learn things, like the meaning of the word 'pernicious' and the origin of the phrase 'Till death us do part'!
  • Sensibly bring evil King Claudius to justice in a court of law! Or, stuff him into a cannon and then fire him into a wall! IT’S UP TO YOU.
  • Travel through TIME! Fight PIRATES! Kill a guy IN A CHURCH (it's totally okay, he's a jerk!)!
  • View the HAML-O-METER at the end of each story to see how well you stuck to the Bard's vision!
  • Listen to the narration for an ALMOST HANDS FREE experience!

To Be or Not To Be has been created using Tin Man Games’ enhanced Gamebook Adventures Engine featuring:

  • Dyslexic friendly font support, to aid readers with dyslexia.
  • Hidden achievements to find throughout the gamebook.
  • Art you discover is unlocked in the art gallery. Find all the full colour images as you play!
  • Specially composed soundtrack and sound effects.

About This Game

The greatest work in English literature, now in the greatest format of English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet has finally been restored to its original second-person non-linear branching narrative format. Now it’s up to YOU to decide what happens next. Play as Hamlet and revenge your father’s death. Play as Ophelia and make scientific discoveries. Play as King Hamlet, Sr. and die on the first page!

Discover sweet art as you play from some of the coolest and most attractive artists of Our Time, including Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Anthony Clark (Nedroid), Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop), Andrew Hussie (MS Paint Adventures), Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) and WAY more than I can fit in this paragraph. See ALL the artists at this handy link!

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP SP3
    • Processor: 2 GHz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Windows 7/8
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with 1GB memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS 10.7.5+
    • Processor: 2 GHz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS 10.8
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with 1GB memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Processor: 2 GHz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with 1GB memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
Customer reviews
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Very Positive (84 reviews)
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73 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
9.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 24
Strangely, can't really recommend this one, despite the clever writing and Monkey Island references. The game is actually one joke, and this joke is way too long for my taste.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
110 of 118 people (93%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 5, 2015
How much you like this game will depend almost 100% on how much you like Ryan North and his style of humour.

Do you like Ryan North and find him funny? Buy this.

Do you find his humour twee, irritating or simply unamusing? Don't buy this.

Not sure? Go read Dinosaur Comics for a while and get back here when you are.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
206 of 297 people (69%) found this review helpful
11 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 4, 2015
- An abridged, more understandable version of Hamlet
- Three character choice perspectives
- Choices that lead to different endings
- Some of the art pieces are cool
- Easy interface
- Story is easy to follow and very easy to understand
- Random educational tidbits about Shakespeare, Scandinavian languages
- Developers are very nice

- The humor doesn't work for me
- You get judged harshly by the narrator for some choices you make, to the point where the narrator just summons an abrupt ending
- Stories are linear, not very branching for a complete storyline as many of the "off" choices lead to endings
--> Lots of endings, but many of them are abrupt and not explained very well
- Extremely short playtime, you can get an ending in one minute
- For how many illustrators there were, there were some art pieces that appeared unfinished
- The music is too loud and there aren't any modifers to make it quieter unless you turn it off
- The narration sometimes in not in sync
- Everything feels rushed, oftentimes the writer summarizes events instead of you experiencing them
- The only developed storyline is the canon storyline, the absurd/vigilante storyline endings are random, and much less developed
- The characters are static, generalized archetypes of their Shakespearean counterparts
- Stats don't matter, experience doesn't matter
- The Hamlometer is unnecessary
- From the tone of the writing, this seemed geared for middle-schoolers. The writer explained a lot of his jokes too much or put words in ALL CAPS to EMPHASIZE how FUNNY or ABSURD it is, RIGHT?!
- Way too much money to pay for what it offers, a more appropriate price would be $5

To Be or Not to Be is a really good concept of a game. I happen to be a fan of "Choose Your Own Adventure" books and this game was trying to emulate that. What made me buy this game was the Kickstarter page, where it raised more than $500,000 for an originally $20,000 budget game. It clearly had devoted fans and excited developers (especially the writer), so I had to try it out with the expectation that this would be a witty and fresh take on the Hamlet story.

My biggest criticism is that the pacing is rushed. There was too much summary, like the writer is assuming we don't want to read certain bits or want to know how we got from Point A to Point B. In one playthrough, I played Ophelia and I got a choice of who was at the door: Hamlet, her father, or her best friend. I chose her best friend, but the narration declared that it was Hamlet and Ophelia can't "CONTROL reality with her MIND. Sheesh!" Then why would you give me the choice? Unless that was supposed to be funny, which leads me to my next criticism: The humor. There was no subtlety. Imagine someone paraphrasing Hamlet for you in a parodied slang, and then whenever a joke is coming they only get LOUDER and LOUDER to emphasize their point. That is the humor of this game.

Another playthrough, I played Hamlet Sr. and I had a choice of how to kill Claudius, his brother: Enlist your son to do it, or do it yourself. I chose to enlist his son, Hamlet, to do it only to be met with judgments and grief from the narrator claiming that the choice was "awful, dude". So they emphasize I have to live with this choice and then attempt to save me by saying I should pick an "afterlife career" (to which they needlessly list a bunch of mundane careers) or I can continue with my choice. I chose to go through with my choice only to be yelled at more and the narrator refusing to cooperate with me. So they just changed my character into Hamlet instead of my original choice, Hamlet Sr., because if I was going to "induce a man to murder", I had to go through with the murder myself. If I refused this change of events, they gave me an abrupt ending. In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet Sr.'s ghost form appears to Hamlet and tells him about the murder, planting the seed of revenge in Hamlet's mind. Judgmental narrators can work, but not when they don't allow you to make the choice at all.

As for the art (one piece for every ending), there wasn't too much of it and I don't think it was redeeming enough to make up for the writing, which is the dominant force of the game. So if you're buying the game to see the art, I suggest waiting for the game to go on sale.

I went in expecting a coherent, branching storyline where "your choices matter" and you develop relationships with the characters in a way that was more in-depth than Shakespeare. This game is very casual and rushed, a playthrough possibly taking no more than a minute. While the "canon" playthrough is accurate and developed, I would suggest reading a Sparknotes version of Hamlet if you don't want to read Shakespeare's version. If you're still interested in the game, pick it up when it's on sale. However, if you share my criticisms, there are many games that do this style of game better.

EDIT: A commenter pointed out that the Kickstarter was for the print book, not the game. Which in that case, I understand the rushed pace and perhaps lack of funding for the game. But my points still stand, since most of it was for the writing.
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37 of 37 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” ― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

To Be or Not To Be is the video game version of Ryan North's chose-your-own-adventure novel, To Be or Not to Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure as a parody version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Aside utilizing the names and events of the original storyline for a setting - and paraphrasing the book now and then - this is nothing even slightly close to the original work. If you have never read or watched the play, I strongly recommend doing so before venturing into this cheesy spoof.

I've always been a bit of a fan for chose-your-own-adventure format, exploring various courses of actions and their consequences presented for a singular story. I basically grew up reading them, playing on the notion of a choice action. Also becoming a fan of Shakespeare's all works as my age and experience in English language progressed enough for me to appreciate them; this game felt like a natural choice for me. Well... this wasn't what I expected.

As the narration starts, you are given the opportunity to play the game as Hamlet, Ophelia or Hamlet Sr. a.k.a. King of Denmark, exploring 110 various parody paths and their endings harboring cringe and insult comedy, narrated in modern slang mostly. It's a cute and imaginative game to spare some mindless time with, sure but nothing exceptionally rich I must say. You start playing the game with a silent smirk on your face, scoffing now and then, deepening that smirk into a smile. It has its almost hilarious moments too, mostly presented in situational comedy through written narrative. It works for 2-3 playthroughs. Yet, as you keep playing and keep witnessing the same kind of shallow remarks for the 30th time, the game quickly loses its charm.

I must confess that the humor presented here was not my cup of tea. It is mostly rough parody and elementary satire, downright underrating the brilliance of the original author by taking crude logic and blatant exaggeration as its weapons. It's not a traditional or psychological reading of the concept. It's an absurd and cheesy parody of the norms of the era, story path choices, gender representations, free-will itself and character interrelations. The relationship between the player and the narrator is somewhat of a semblance to The Stanley Parable with the narrator constantly criticizing you, intervening with your choices and rearranging actions to fit into prearranged storyline format, and doing so while belittling your sentience mostly. Some of the scenes presented - like the naval war between Hamlet's fleet and pirates - are imaginative and entertaining; but most scenes end up being direct hits on the original play with American sitcom humor.

I am aware that I've mostly presented downsides, but would I recommend the game as a final verdict? Meh, why not if it's in a heavy sale and you'd feel like watching Ophelia going on a killing spree, Hamlet time travelling or King of Denmark exploring the bottom of the sea. It is cute, but that effect doesn't last. There is nothing to actually dislike in the game. Narrative dynamic functions fine and the author obviously knows his Shakespeare enough to criticize Hamlet in to this extent. This whole thing is a matter of taste. I'll refuse to downvote it for the sake of creative spark it contains. It should be some labor to write 110 different endings to begin with.

Please also check out Lady Storyteller's Curator page here - follow for regular updates on reviews for other games!
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42 of 45 people (93%) found this review helpful
46 people found this review funny
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 5, 2015
"To Be or Not to Be"? The question is
To play this game or give this game a miss
Should you like Shakespeare written casually
With ghosts of dead kings saying 'Sup?' to thee
And shouldst thou think Hamlet as dull as lead
Why not play as Ophelia instead?
Or take revenge as Hamlet Senior's ghost
Or not - this game's more flexible than most
So if you like your humour tongue in cheek
Look no further, this is the game you seek
(A warning though, dear reader, do beware,
If you seek shooters then please look elsewhere
This game requires reading, LOTS of it
But rest assured they come in bite-sized bits.)
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65 of 83 people (78%) found this review helpful
85 people found this review funny
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 4, 2015
If you enjoy shakespeare, this is great. If you don't enjoy shakespeare, you can go on a revenge fueled vigilantism spree as a ghost exploding people from inside.
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32 of 42 people (76%) found this review helpful
15 people found this review funny
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 4, 2015
In all of English literature, is there any work whose protagonist's choices are more lamented than those of Shakespeare's Hamlet? Seriously, the Prince of Denmark is a colossal dumbass. He spends most of the play in a state of crippling indecision, talking to himself, talking to the ghost of his father and on one occasion even talking to the skull of some dude he used to know. When he does choose to do something, it is in almost every instance the worst possible thing he could have done. No man of action is Hamlet, instead he's an emo manbaby whose most famous speech is basically him debating whether or not to off himself. Pretty much anyone could do a better job of being Hamlet than Hamlet did, am I right?

Well, good news! In To Be or Not To Be, you can find out just how well you'd do in Hamlet's shoes! You needn't limit yourself to being Hamlet, either. You can also choose to play as the beautiful, brilliant, emotionally unstable Ophelia or Hamlet's dad! Yes that's right, the dead dude, but remember, the whole reason the play even happens is because his ghost is hanging out in the castle! If you want, you can skip getting your idiot son involved and carry out your own ghostly revenge. Pretty kick ♥♥♥, eh?

I couldn't reccomend this game more highly. It is clever, funny and highly irreverent. However, potential buyers should keep in mind that this is a direct adaptation of a choose your own adventure style book. That means that interaction is limited to reading (or having read to you, via optional narration) the story and making choices when prompted. If that's not your cup of tea, fair enough. But if it is, you're in for a great time. To Be or Not To Be is an awesome and hilarious interactive novel with dozens of story paths and over 100 endings, each one beautifully and humorously illustrated by a wide variety of artists.
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13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 4, 2015
♥♥♥♥ing brilliant. Look, you're on the internet, you're already familiar with Ryan North: he's smart, he's funny, he doesn't believe in venerating historical sacred cows. You stir those elements together into a choose-your-own-adventure story and the result is *great*. Nowhere is this more obvious than when you play through the story making all the choices that follow Hamlet as WS wrote it -- there are so many points where you could be choosing a cooler option, whether that's making out with Ophelia or stabbing Claudius at the first opportunity or BECOMING A PIRATE KING. By the time you make it all the way to the play's conclusion it's screamingly obvious that this tragedy was not inevitable but rather the result of Hamlet being kind of a huge wang bag ("an emo teen in his early 30s," North says).

Recommended, and double recommended for English or theater majors.
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11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 9
This game, or well , I should say "choose your own adventure novel narrated to you" is cheesy, silly, and overall amusing. I've noticed some saying its bland and not at all worth the read, but as someone who sat through multiple Shakespeare lit classes and heard so many people BS the meaning of Hamlet into something "deeper" and "special" and wondering what region of their buttocks they're yanking it from- everything in this novel is something that could have been plausibly brought up and in my opinion defended better than the wild readings of my college days.

For someone who doesn't particularly like Shakespeare and thinks its overanalized to death and most of his books can be summarized into '♥♥♥♥ jokes' and 'murder' without any deeper real meaning, it is worth picking up if you find it at a bargain. The $12 dollar price tag ain't worth it, but if you can get it for a bargain it might cheer you up after having to sit through a Shakespeare class you didn't want to or remember the wild theories of college students back when you had to take several classes for a requisite of one of your majors/minors.

Honestly this story is more reasonable than half the things the class said and even more than the professors tried to feed me.

(Also I was reading this at midnight at the time of the review which probably made it even more enjoyable than it would be when fully awake, so that might be skewing my review just a tad)

Have fun an give this book a go when the price is right.

It is to be.
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10 of 10 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
7.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 7, 2015
To Be or Not to Be feels like being told the story of Hamlet by a really good friend -- one with whom you share a goofy sense of humor and a lot of off-kilter inside jokes -- but there are a few issues I'm hoping to see fixed.

First, let me be direct here: I love To Be or Not To Be. I like that I can play a storyline in the 10-minute breaks between my classes; the writing style, humor, and references work for me; and the game singlehandedly convinced me to nickname my car Ophelia (+1 to science, -1 to water, and +10,000 to badassery). This is also a game where it is really fun to achievement hunt -- achievements tip you off to lots of silly but non-required moments, and chasing them down is a good way to structure your playtime.

That said, the humor relies a lot on the inherent silliness of juxtaposing Hamlet with modernity and may not hit the mark for everyone. Additionally, a lot of humor is milked from the narrator being exasperated with and/or railroading you, a la The Stanley Parable. I found this funny, but given the way To Be or Not To Be is checkpointed, I understand why others might find it frustrating.

And that brings me to my biggest problem with To Be or Not To Be: the checkpointing. Checkpoints are infrequent, and while they mostly come at sensible points (at any major scene/plot turn), you'll still end up skipping a lot of text to get back to that one spot where you didn't take the other branching path. It's a minor annoyance, but it's still an annoyance.

Additionally, for whatever reason, only some of my checkpoints (and ending art!) ever persist after exiting the game -- this is a known bug, and I'm hoping it'll be patched soon. [Edit: This has since been remedied!]

A lesser problem is the sound controls. Although the music and narration volumes have been adjusted since release so the former no longer totally drowns out the latter, there's still no sliders; you can only turn things on or off. My advice: Skip the narration and leave the music on. It's more fun to read the story in your own voice and give the words your own emphasis anyway, and the music really adds to the scenes and the humor in a way that the narration doesn't.
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Recently Posted
3.9 hrs
Posted: October 10
Still has horrible Audio Desync issues, with the text speeding by the spoken dialogue. With no way to change it, I've just sorta been putting off this game until they fixed it... but they didn't. And now this is just a game I can't play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.6 hrs
Posted: August 10
This game is just hilarious. I recommend jumping in without knowing anything about it
Helpful? Yes No Funny
8.5 hrs
Posted: July 10
Now this is how you make a visual novel: with wits and not with manga bewbs!

Did you like The stanley parable? Then you'll like this game too. Also it does not hurt if you had read Hamlet once, or at least seen one of the movies based on it – except the Last Action Hero maybe.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.9 hrs
Posted: July 4
10/10 would become super ninja again
Helpful? Yes No Funny
4.9 hrs
Posted: June 25
Spoilers for a single ending:

Played as Ophelia; Hamlet got killed in our bed when Claudius' ghost came back after we offed him and promised everyone and their cat nirvana for murdering us. Slaughtered the entire cast of Hamlet single-handedly while delivering glorious one-liners to avenge my dead love.

10/10 would play as a Shakespearian Beatrix Kiddo again.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.6 hrs
Posted: June 23
I've run through this game a few times and have thought it was hilarious. The art is enjoyable, as is the music (my favourite thus far is the 80's montage music for the montage scene), and my only complaint is that some sections will briefly circle back to desicions you had made earlier. It's definitely worth the money.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.5 hrs
Posted: May 25
I honestly wasn't expecting much, but this game made me laugh out loud more times than most AAA titles this year. Well worth your money. Give it ALL the money.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
6.6 hrs
Posted: May 22
I enjoyed this one A LOT. If you like choose your own adventure books, Shakespeare and Ryan North (he's the creator of one of the best webcomics out there, Dinousaurs, and makes awesome things like Adventure time comics books, that win Eisner Awards because, like I said, AWESOMENESS ABOUNDS), then you'll love it too.

For me, the risk with these types of books is that they get kinda repetitive pretty fast, and you end up replaying the same plots all over again just to get an ending slighty different. Well, not here. There's a handy list of checkpoints to just jump to the meaty parts, and there are dozens and dozens of endings, that include pirates, hand chopping, time travel, a cool narrator telling you to be the best person that you can be, and lots and lots of drowning and stabbing and murdering because this is a Shakespeare play after all.

Besides, with each different ending you unlock cool art. RAD ART. AWESOME ART. So, just go for it.
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