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Industrial Toys has released Midnight Rises, a free digital graphic novel for iOS devices. The comic book introduces the story of a new sci-fi universe, and it is the forerunner for the upcoming mobile action game, Midnight Star.

Midnight Rises is now available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. It is the first graphic novel from Hugo-award winning author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, Lock In), with illustrations from veteran comic artist Mike Choi (Uncanny X-Men, X-Force). The goal of the novel is to introduce the back story for the first game from Industrial Toys, which was started by console game veterans Alex Seropian and Tim Harris. The graphic novel and game are a kind of transmedia project that is aimed at pushing the boundaries of mobile gaming.

Originally, the team attempted to put both the cinematic story and the mobile game out as a single game. But they found in testing that many mobile gamers didn’t really want motion graphics or video to go with their games, particularly because it could slow down the gameplay or overall experience, Seropian said last year. So they decided to separate the experiences into a graphic novel and a game. Presumably, the game is going to come out soon.

The graphic novel app has been built to take advantage of the interactivity of mobile devices while remaining true to its nature as a comic book, according to Pasadena, Calif.-based Industrial Toys. Going beyond a companion app, the novel requires readers to make choices in Midnight Rises that will transfer over to the Midnight Star game. Likewise, playing the game unlocks content in the novel.

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Set 120 years into our future, Midnight Rises introduces readers to the MSRV-Joplin, a research vessel newly outfitted with military weaponry to explore a mysterious signal coming from within our Solar System. A crew preparing for the historic mission to make first contact includes Charles Campbell, a West Point graduate with great aptitude but a less-than-stellar record. Rises’ adventure is about Campbell and his uncovering of a plot against the mission. The tale stretches for three chapters.

“We wanted to see how much we could do with this graphic novel,” said Scalzi, in a statement. “Not just with the visual storytelling but with everything the medium can do. So we give readers treats that transfer to the game, offer extras that include timelines, schematics and dossiers, and other nifty bits. We reward exploration — and this rabbit hole goes down deep.”

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