I’m getting more and more excited by interactive YouTube adventures, guys. Part of it very much comes from childhood nostalgia for Choose Your Own Adventure books, sure, but there are also a lot of creators who really push the boundaries of what in-video annotations can do for content — not just on a game play level, but on a branded entertainment level.
Deliver Me To Hell, created by littlesisterfilms to promote the New Zealand-based Hell Pizza franchise, is just the latest example of this. In the first part, a beautiful girl (Emily Trenberth) in the midst of a zombie apocalypse orders a pizza using Hell Pizza’s iPhone app, to be delivered to her hiding place on top of a storage container. Steve (DJ IWIKAU), the delivery guy who receives the order, heads out to make the delivery — but in order to do so he’ll face a cityscape of zombies, as well as some tough decisions.
I’m not going to say that Deliver Me is a triumph of originality — for one thing, zombies are definitely reaching the overdone stage, and Deliver Me‘s take on the genre will be pretty familiar to any Shaun of the Dead fans out there. Also, at each of the five decision points, you’re given two options — one that continues the story, and one that leads to Steve’s eventual demise, followed by a return to the decision point so that you can continue the adventure. Playing through Deliver Me, I somehow managed to always first pick the option that got Steve killed, but what I actually found frustrating was the lack of a true branching narrative. While, admittedly, creating multiple options for a story can double or triple the amount of content needed, it still fell a little short of fully-realized interactive storytelling.
Even though the interaction isn’t super-sophisticated, though, it’s still more engaging than watching a 20-minute short film — and there are actual rewards for making it to the end. Not only does successfully completing the adventure give you a promotional code for a free 1.5 liters of Coke, you’re also given a chance to enter a contest to win a year’s supply of pizza.
And unlike other interactive YouTube games I’ve seen, all the videos except for the entry point have been set as unlisted and thus inaccessible unless you follow a direct link. This means that there’s no easy way to skip ahead, which is a clever way to thwart cheaters.
Sure, the contest only applies to New Zealand residents, but it does give international audiences an intriguing example of a strong branded enterprise. For a franchise with pizzas on the menu named Mayhem, Grimm and Damned (64 different locations in N.Z. alone!), Deliver Me to Hell fits perfectly with the brand and its unique approach to promotion. Playing through the experience may not have sold any pizzas to me, but it’s definitely captured my interest.