Is Niko and the Sword of Light an animated comic book or an animated film inside of an app? This was the question that I continued to ask myself as I read/watched the story unfold before me on my iPad.

An interactive comic book app created by Imaginism’s Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera, and StudioNX’s Jim Bryson and Adam Jeffcoat, Niko and the Sword of Light is about a young boy who picks up his blade made of luminescent energy and goes on a quest to save the world from darkness.

The animation is great and the story is fun, but the most compelling element of Niko is its delivery system. “From growing up with comic books to working in the animation and movie industries, it was a natural progression for us to unite our biggest passions into one interactive experience,” explained the Niko team on their Kickstarter campaign page from earlier this year.

While it has all the familiar trappings of a comic book, including paneled artwork, word bubbles, and pages that need to be turned manually, Niko is, at its core, a piece of narrative animation with some basic reader interactivity. Ultimately, I could not decide whether I wanted to relinquish control and simply let the story progress on its own power or sit back and be inspired by the creative possibilities of a comic book that has panels spring to life.

Chiu and Acedera’s design work paired with StudioNX’s animation comes together seamlessly, and they are clearly confident in their top notch production values as the first three chapters of Niko are presented free of charge on Itunes, Google play and Kindle Fire.

Once they have you hooked, you can unlock the rest of the story for $3.99. We can spend time debating about whether the project would be more effective as an interactive comic book or a straight-ahead animated short, but however you choose to see it, Niko is an attention-grabbing animation app.

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