It's Up To You: Netflix's Interactive Titles
Netflix’s offering of interactive titles has quietly grown over the past few years. Mostly sneaking the new format into established shows and series, Netflix interactive puts the plot directly into the viewer’s hands, allowing them to decide what their favorite characters should do next. While the format initially focused on kids’ programming, blurring the lines between television shows and video games, more recently, Netflix began testing the waters with more adult programming, with winning results.
Interactive Shows on Netflix
Those who fondly remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series will thrill in Netflix’s interactive offerings, especially when given a chance to finally tell Bear Grylls to eat some bugs or Buddy Thunderstruck to drive blindfolded. Choose wisely, though. The wrong choice can cut the experience short. Frequently hidden amongst your favorite series, it’s easy to overlook the next Netflix interactive experience, so we’ve compiled the ones you won’t want to miss.
You vs. Wild
Have you ever felt like you could handle the harsh environments that Bear Grylls conquers? Ever wished you could be a celebrity guest navigating Iceland alongside the outdoorsman? You vs. Wild may be as close as some of us will get. In this spinoff of the popular series Man vs. Wild, in the interactive You vs. Wild, Grylls speaks to the audience directly, imploring them to decide what his next move should be. Should he scale a cliff or choose the rocky coastline? Should he eat these bugs or that mushroom? Grylls’s options are entirely in your hands! Part survivalist quiz, part game, You vs. Wild uniquely engages audiences young and old in Grylls’s next steps. It’s an exciting excursion into the world of extreme survival.
Minecraft Story Mode
Minecraft Story Mode allows its audience to jump right into the game. Based on the popular video game, as the characters make their way through the adventure, viewers choose how the story will continue. While this series is much more narrative and character-driven than its video-game counterpart, it remains true to the franchise, with the same monsters, powers, and even formerly inexplicable behaviors. A sure hit amongst those who have spent the last ten years hooked on Minecraft, Minecraft Story Mode is the perfect combination of original and familiar.
Captain Underpants Epic Choice-O-Rama
Packed full of potty humor and geared towards the younger crowd, Captain Underpants Epic Choice-O-Rama is just as ridiculously funny as the Captain Underpants books and series. Set to keep the story rolling, even if the audience chooses poorly, the choices frequently end up in the same place, with some varying diversions. While this format may frustrate older viewers, it will still delight fans. This series highlights some of the Captain Underpants franchise’s strengths, a loyal friendship, creative problem-solving, and silly, laugh out loud humor.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
Set after the series finale for the beloved Netflix comedy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the interactive episode, Kimmy vs. The Reverend, gives audiences one last foray with the delightful Kimmy (Ellie Kemper). Believing the reverend who kept her in an underground bunker for most of her life may be up to his old habits, Kimmy is determined to find and save his victims. While many of the choices that Kimmy vs. The Reverend offers end the special episode immediately, the delivery of those choices may be Netflix’s best yet. Kimmy and her friends bring serious laughs and fun to the format, proving interactive titles may be here to stay.
Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal
Part of the Netflix series Carmen Sandiego, the 30-minute To Steal or Not to Steal is a natural extension of the popular media franchise. When the evil organization V.I.L.E. kidnaps Carmen’s friends Zack and Ivy, viewers step in and help Carmen decide what she should steal to keep V.I.L.E. from brainwashing her friends. Once the player achieves the perfect rescue, a satisfying bit of bonus content is released, which is fun enough to feel like a legitimate prize.
Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale
Serving as Netflix’s first interactive kids’ tale, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale is the perfect introduction to the format. The short structure and spirited storyline instantly hooks viewers young and old. Served up with a heavy dose of humor that appeals to kids, adults will find some sly jokes that fly right over the heads of younger audiences as well. Puss continues to be the engaging and hilarious lead, and his reactions to each choice are worth the inevitable multiple watches.
Boss Baby: Get that Baby
Geared towards fans of the top-rated Boss Baby franchise, the interactive Boss Baby: Get That Baby brings audiences right inside Baby Corp, where they must save the business from familiar villains, even as they climb the corporate ranks. Netflix offers some next-level interaction with the option to continuously go back and see the route the story would go on if viewers chose differently. Not only will your little one be engaged, they’ll learn as the context clarifies the best choices.
Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile
Geared for older kids, Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile earns the distinction of being the interactive series full of bad ideas. Truck driving dog Buddy and his ferret mechanic best friend are looking for some new antics, so they begin working their “maybe pile.” Full of terrible options like “eating a garbage pizza” or “driving blindfolded,” this series offers slapstick comedy and juvenile humor that will result in some serious belly laughs. Plus, the 27 minute run time means it doesn’t outlast its welcome.
Spirit: Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure
The Dreamworks and Netflix series Spirit: Riding Free released a special interactive episode alongside the regular series format in December 2020, bringing a new element to the prolific animated adventure. Lucky, Pru, and Abigail find themselves in over their heads when horse thieves collect the treasured mare, Mystery, alongside a wild herd. As the three girls differ between the right path to take to save Mystery, the audience becomes the tiebreaker, choosing the option most likely to reunite Lucky and her crew with Mystery.
Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout
Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters quickly differentiated itself as a highly entertaining and original animated superhero series. So it should come as no surprise that the interactive episode Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout is just as fun as the original. Directly following the storyline of season one, The Breakout is a bridge between seasons one and two. While there are 40 different story paths offered, the characters’ ultimate fates still play a vital part in the series. Thankfully, it’s an entertaining ride.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
The British dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror spent its five seasons (thus far) breaking boundaries and blowing minds. Bandersnatch, the series’s stand-alone film, is the perfect choice to serve as the groundbreaking first interactive film by Netflix. Venturing off into psychological thriller territory, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch follows young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) through the meta-process of adapting his late mother’s “choose your own adventure” book into a video game. As each decision leads to a startlingly different path, audiences get a close look at how our choices change our trajectory.