OOKS App Review
Price: Free (In-App Purchases)
OOKS is an immersive story-telling app that allows users to become part of an adventure story, making choices and adding their own creative touches that will form a unique tale. Each story, when finished, is made available to order in book form from the developer’s website.
- Users control the outcome of the story through choices
- Users can add artwork and other personalizing touches
- App features bold, colorful artwork and engaging narration
- Users can unlock interesting features and discover new characters
- Personalized, unique book is available to order
OOKS is a high quality app that generally works well. It places users into an interactive environment where they become part of the story that is being written. To play, users drag their character around the screen, occasionally finding other creatures or items to interact with. For the most part, this is pretty easy to do, and works intuitively. However, it takes a bit of thought to discover that putting the character into a beam of light triggers some interactions, and young children may not make this connection on their own. There was also one point where I accidentally guided my character into a corner in the “kitchen” area and somewhat behind another character, and it got stuck. I had to exit the app and start over to continue playing. The app would benefit from a simple tutorial or instructions to adult users.
Educationally speaking, this app is outstanding. Young children (through somewhere in elementary school) will love creating their own adventures, and there are countless variations even in the single world that is currently available in the app (more are promised soon). The stories feature many interactions and chances for the young authors to express their preferences that direct the story, similar to the popular choose-your-adventure-type books for this age group. There are also options to personalize the character and the story with art work and other additions.
The app guides the user through adventurous stories where the young story teller gets to be the hero. Each screen is interactive, and allows the on-screen character to be guided around to explore. Other story characters will “speak” using cartoon-like speech bubbles that are narrated out loud. There are frequent choice points so that users can influence the direction of the story, and that allow lots of variations, making the app enjoyable on many uses.
This app will build language skills, story-telling skills, and memory skills. Kids will also improve their listening capabilities, and much more. It is very valuable as an educational tool.
OOKS is highly entertaining. After all, who doesn’t love being the center of attention? Young children will love the feeling of control and power that they can get by being in charge of the story. It’s also fun to move the main character around the screen to explore the interactive environment. And the app offers multiple opportunities to personalize the story with artwork and other input. There are mini-games of various sorts, as well, such as choosing outfits or trying out different moves.
This app is a good value. It is free to download on both the App Store and Google Play, and it has a lot of play and replay value. The app does offer in-app purchase of the final book product for each story (the links are protected). The current price of a printed book is 16.99 pounds (the app developers are based in Ireland), which at this writing converts to approximately $23.50 in U.S. dollars. You’ll want to check the exchange rates if you choose to purchase a printed book, and you will want to double check the shipping and related fees to get the book delivered to your area. There is a free preview feature that allows users to see the pages of the book, but on the iPad, this is almost too small to be useful. If you want a good look at the book in digital form, you’ll want to bring up the developers’ website on a real computer with a larger screen.
OOKS is very child friendly. The links and other features that are for adults are protected by a parent gate that asks for a birth year. The in-app purchase option is visible, however, but a reminder says for children to ask a grown-up to assist them. There are a few spots where the text is unaccompanied by verbal narration, so prereaders may have some problem using the app independently.
- NO 3rd party ads
- YES in-app purchase visible but behind a parent gates (birth year)
- YES outside links and social media behind parent gates