Hamlet is way funnier as a choose-your-own-adventure game

To Be Or Not To Be

If you're like me, reading Hamlet has always been a little bit like watching a horror movie, except instead of screaming at the girl to run away from the masked killer instead of into the basement, you're screaming at Hamlet to just freaking do something instead wandering around Denmark being an indecisive jerk and creating problems for everyone.

Well, now you can finally take control in To Be or Not to Be, a laugh out loud funny Hamlet choose-your-own-adventure story that allows you to step into the shoes of Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet Sr. (aka a ghost). It's written by Ryan North, and if you're familiar with his work on Dinosaur Comics, Adventure Time or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, it shouldn't come as a surprise that To Be or Not to Be is laugh out loud funny.

To Be or Not to Be is full of surprises, particularly ones that use the choose-your-own-adventure format in clever and unexpected ways. For example, if you choose to play as The Ghost and convince young Hamlet to kill Claudius, it immediately shifts you into Hamlet's perspective as his murders his uncle, so you can exactly how messed up of a thing that was to do. The famous play-within-the-play of Hamlet, meanwhile, gets turned into a choose-your-own-adventure book within a choose-your-own-book, complete with its own cover.

This is a must for Shakespeare fans, but even if you're not particularly into the Bard—or could never quite get past the antiquated English—this is an incredibly accessible way to explore one of his most famous works, though it will surely warp your ideas about Hamlet forever, in wonderful ways.

The choices that lead down the canonical path throughout the story are marked by skulls (Yorick skulls, naturally), but the real pleasure of this game is when it allows you to go off-road, exploring the characters and choices in new and occasionally absurd ways that never made it to the stage.


Originally funded as a printed book on Kickstarter—where it raised over $580,000— To Be or Not to Be also features art from a lot of web-favorite cartoonists, including Kate Beaton (Hark, A Vagrant, Anthony Clark (Nedroid) and Randall Munroe (xkcd).

The game is available on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. It's also got lots of material to explore in multiple playthroughs, as evinced by this skull flowchart, which I would kind of like to wear as a tank top.