Dunkirk is one of 2017's most-anticipated (and critically-acclaimed) films - and now, thanks to Amazon and the filmmakers behind Dunkirk, moviegoers can immerse themselves in the WWII story with an interactive Alexa skill. Through two decades of film, Christopher Nolan has emerged as a champion for thought-provoking storytelling - as anyone who has pondered the ending of Inception will surely agree. As a result, it should come as no surprise that the filmmaking team behind Nolan's Dunkirk is offering moviegoers a chance to experience the world of Dunkirk in a new way - one that could pave the way for many more interactive experiences with Amazon Alexa and similar AI-powered devices.
While we can only speculate how the "choose your own adventure" storytelling experience could be applied to major fictional franchises (read: Destination: Justice League), there's no question that Dunkirk's "based on true events" backdrop should inspire moviegoers to learn as much about the real Dunkirk as they can before (or after) seeing the film. To that end, Destination: Dunkirk is an intriguing bonus for anyone who owns an Amazon Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo or Fire TV).
So how does it work?
"The Dunkirk skill is a choose your own experience game, where you play a British soldier during the Battle of France, trying to make it to the seaside town of Dunkirk for evacuation. Amidst chilling audio and voiceover, you direct the action, meeting characters in the film and making life-or-death decisions."
Alexa-enabled device owners simply need to install the Destination: Dunkirk skill - and, when they're ready to dive in, simply ask Alexa to launch the app. You play as Tommy (played by Fionn Whitehead in the movie), a soldier with a wife back home, who is eager to leave the war behind. At the start, players get to select from Infantryman, Tank Commander, and RAF Pilot storylines - which sets the stage for how their version of Tommy arrives in Dunkirk. Gameplay is comprised of voice-over narration, sound effects, and professional voice acting - that chart Tommy's path through branching decision points. Each choice sets up a binary decision to make - and players use voice commands to inform Alexa how they'd like to proceed.
Example: Pinned down by enemy fire in the Tank Commander storyline, one inflection points asks you to abandon your tank or stay in it - one of the game's many life-or-death choices.
Decisions range in importance but each one provides insight into the challenges that soldiers faced on the ground (and in the air) in lead-up to Dunkirk. Whether deciding to risk time (and safety) to help an injured civilian or deny a request to assist a fellow unit that's in need of aid, Destination: Dunkirk makes it clear how dire the situation was - and the numerous ways that any one soldier could have met their demise.
The goal? Survive. That said, surviving could also mean putting others (even civilians) in danger - meaning that while surviving may be the goal of the game, it will be abundantly clear that making the most honorable decisions could make it hard to achieve that goal. It's not character-focused storytelling; yet, Destination: Dunkirk adds further texture and context to a film that is steeped in (bloody) history.
Each storyline takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes to play through - with about 10 decision points for players to explore. Upon completion, Alexa shares a few key playthrough stats: including the number of "honorable" decisions that were made during Tommy's harrowing journey.
Still, the experience doesn't stop with Tommy's death or rescue. Once a story branch is completed, Alexa provides users with a link to download an electronic graphic novel of that story (complete with the player's unique choices).
"Relive your journey: Download and share a customized graphic novel of your attempt to survive the Battle of France and make it to Dunkirk. Each time you play, you’ll have a new story to explore."
Additionally, whether players explore the campaigns or not, the skill is also equipped with loads of historic facts that could serve as a fun primer before seeing the film: detailing the players, backstory, and events that shaped the evacuation of Dunkirk (and its aftermath).
While Destination: Dunkirk isn't enough reason to run out and purchase an Amazon Echo or Fire TV on its own, there's no question it's a great bonus for those who want to learn more about Dunkirk and already own an Alexa-enabled device. The game serves it's primary goal: providing an experience that will result in a greater appreciation of Nolan's film (not to mention a greater appreciation for the soldiers who died in the battle).
Beyond Dunkirk, the Destination experience is an intriguing proof of concept for future partnerships between Amazon and filmmakers.
NEXT: Dunkirk Movie Review
- Dunkirk (2017) release date: Jul 21, 2017