From OhNoo Studio, Amelia and Terror of the Night is one of the most animated and interactive apps I have seen this year. It definitely will 'Wow' you the minute you begin the app and children are likely to disappear with your tablet, the minute you show it to them. The app even uses motion to let the reader explore the edges of every page and has tons of games hidden within the story. The book has a 'lift the flap' quality that brings something fun and innovative to every page. There are even adorable bugs that you can tap and hold to see them squirm - something hard to resist for both young and old alike.
The interactive elements are primarily in the form of several sections of each page that have dotted lines in a circle that provide hints as to where to tap. When tapped on, these spaces reveal an assortment of animated and delightfully illustrated woodland characters that provide a nearly endless loop of fun images and sound effects. The four main characters also have additional dialogue when tapped, although if you tap multiple areas of any page, the sound effects interfere with each other. These enhancements are fun, but also distracting from the story, especially since only a few them relate to the plot. The motion also makes the pages feel a bit shaky when the iPad is held (like a book in your lap) and in order to fully explore the edges, you must keep the tablet tilted to fully see each scene.
The highlight of the app for kids will likely be the game that appears on every other page, where children can find three stars hidden within the scene. This is quite challenging and took my son and I, together, nearly an hour to find all of them and unlock the small extra on the final page. If you're looking for an app that will keep a 6-9+ year old busy and engaged, this one is sure to please! Many people have described the lush illustrations as being akin to Tim Burton, giving the app a macabre but appealing quality that is more quirky than scary. And did I mention the page turning? It's truly adorable, featuring different animal arms that stretch over the page and pull it away, to reveal the next chapter in the story.
Exceptional production values define this app, featuring the kind of animation and interactivity that is worthy of a feature film. This makes for an app that is hard to review ... it is really fun for kids and truly entertaining in every way possible, but when it comes to the story itself, things break down. While I did enjoy the plot, once I was able to focus on it, the story itself is rather weak, with limited details and not much to make the reader really understand or warm to any of the characters in the book.
This narrative is not particularly scary, despite the morbid subject matter (see synopsis tab above), although it is rather dark and probably not ideal for most kids under age 5. The sheer amount of interactivity, as well, with all the built-in games and endlessly tappable features, makes this title unsuitable for bedtime reading. The app is also solidly made, with intuitive settings that include a page guide and easy audio controls. There is, unfortunately, a direct link to Facebook on the title page, as well as a link to the AppStore. I would prefer to see these links in a secondary menu, or ideally, removed entirely, given that this app is aimed a children under age 13.
Overall, this is a delightful storybook app for entertaining children and keeping them occupied, but not much of a real reading experience. The story itself can get lost in all the enhancements, but while they do steal the show, the show they put on is spectacular. For that reason alone, I recommend checking this app out; it really is something special!
Includes both English & Polish.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The content of the rating/review is the same, but timing of publication has been prioritized.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
OhNoo Studio/Piotr Ruszkowski
15 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 6 - 9 +
In a faraway land called the "Mushroom Clearing" there lived four friends - a tortoise, a girl, a teddy bear and a kitten with two missing legs replaced by wheels. The friends played together and then went home to sleep, but a 'terror of the night' named Whine was searching the dark landscape for souls.
"Little Pencil" decided it was too hot indoors that night and decided to sleep outside. Whine appeared and took the poor tortoise's soul. The friends found the body in the morning and buried it, but the girl, Amelia, had an idea of how to bring him back to life.
The friends then set out on an adventure to get Little Pencil's soul back. They all dressed carefully with protective armour and weapons. Then they set on an a long and exhaustive journey. They found out where Whine lived and entered his tower. There they found a 'magic bell glass' where the souls of animals were imprisoned. Whine tries to stop them but was blinded by Amelia's torch.
Inexplicably, the torch light activates a gate to another diminsion, which sucks both the monster and his evilness into another world. Now the friends had to release the souls by breaking the glass jar. Once it was broken everyone was free and joyful. In the end, the whole thing was just a dream of the little girl, shown waking up in a normal room with her alarm clock ringing.