A narrative can be told in many ways giving the reader/viewer/gamer a chance to experience the story in a way that its creator intended. However, the creators of ‘choose your own adventure’ (CYOA) narratives, whether explicit or subtle, give the power of plot twists to the audience themself.
Run Lola Run represents a classic visual representation of a CYOA where you see the three outcomes of Lola’s various choices in an explicit segmented movie. The director gives us a sense of Lola’s narrative through the thrill of her immortality and regeneration. Immersion is obtained from being in the position of an omnipresent figure watching Lola repeat events; knowing what has happened before allows the audience to make choices for Lola. The narrative is so consciously developed that the choice made by the viewer coincides with the protagonist’s decisions causing deeper and deeper immersion into the narrative via a sense of camaraderie with Lola.
On the other hand, ‘The Usual Suspects’ subtly illustrates a CYOA narrative where the active power does not lie with you physically where you can click different choices such as in ‘Redshift and Portalmetal’ but it lays dormant in your vacillating thoughts during the film. You are at the mercy of viewing the story in the backseat through the eyes of Verbal and interpreting it through the lens of Kujan. This causes you to have a mental CYOA as you are constantly forming opinions and imagining what the story could be due to the director’s style of revealing bits and pieces of the story that adds to the plot. Staring from the end of the plot and filling in the puzzle pieces in random but logical orders causes the audience to become deeply entrenched in the narrative that seems to be continually in their grasp yet still constantly eluding them. This narrative was done in such an artful manner that the end takes you by such a magnitude of surprise that it is akin to turning the last page of a CYOA novel where you are expecting to die but find that you arrive at your favorite ending of all.
Narratives are true shapeshifters, spinning and weaving stories in many different ways that satisfy the reader. As evidenced by both ‘Run Lola Run’ and ‘The Usual Suspects’ the immersion of a narrative, which in my opinion is the narrative’s goal, can be done in opposing ways but allow for the same climax of emotion towards the story, from the audience. There is no correct form of narrative!