Review: Stories Untold

If you were hooked on the 80’s nostalgiSU_Screenshot_01a inspired by Netflix’s Stranger Things and you enjoy some old-school PC text adventure styled PC gaming, then Stories Untold is well worth your time.

Stories Untold is described by Scotland, Glasgow-based developer No Code as an ‘experimental text adventure’. But this is only partly accurate. As a narrative experience, Stories Untold almost defies description. It incorporates text adventure elements, but combines them with a variety of other experiences to create something unique.

The game opens with an 80’s style synthesizer soundtrack (which immediately calls to mind Netflix’s Stranger Things) and then  doubles down on the nostalgia when your in-game alter ego sits down to a virtual computer that clearly channels the spirit of the greatest gaming PC ever made, aka the Commodore 64. And on this C-64 inspired PC,  an adventure  game called The House Abandon screeches and yawls to life to the soothing sounds of a modem connection while loading from a cassette tape drive.

Stories Unfold…

Stories Untold is an experimental narrative experience. There are text adventure elements but they are relatively sparse. If you’re a text adventure purist, Stories Untold certainly tugs at those heart strings, but it’s not a text adventure in the same vein as the original Infocom games such as Zork (1980-1982) and Planetfall (1983).

Instead, it mostly requires you to navigate a very limited environment, looking for visual clues inside the game environment for each chapter, during which a chilling story unfolds as you progress, complete with sound effects, visual effects, and voice over.

You will need to type as well and use the mouse to interact with items in the environment in each chapter to solve its puzzles. For example, in one chapter you must consult manuals (on a computer inside the game) to learn how to properly run the equipment (which requires mouse interaction) to perform a series of experiments.

For a few puzzles you may even need to pull out some good old low-tech pencil and paper to scrawl a few notes on—another throwback to PC gaming in the 1980’s. Yes, once upon a time there were no quest logs or journals, and you had to write down clues and even make your own maps.

SU_Screenshot_05b
(SEKRIT CODE: APKY577FDF2470214)
 Stories Untold is told in four chapters of inter-related and connected experiences,  but that’s all I want so say so as to not spoil the experience. The story is best left for you to discover. You can play each chapter in roughly 30-60 minutes. There is no ‘dying’ and there are no time limits, so it’s generally a stress-free experience. And the stories in the game are brilliantly told, giving you just enough clues about the events and the world outside the narrow slice of the chapter in which you’re playing. The voice acting is superb  and complements the writing and narrative experience beautifully.

What in the hell is really going on here?   SEKRIT CODE: APKY5750C0C770214

The puzzles are challenging enough to be fun, but never really difficult enough to make frustrate–the emphasis is on telling the story. Early on you barely know what you’re doing or why, but as you play through each chapter you’ll become increasingly intrugued and want to explore this world further. What in the hell is really going on here? You almost wish the game was a first-person game because the outer world beckons to be explored.

Overall: 9/10 — Highly Recommended  

Stories Untold is a wonderfully well-written experience that’s as intriguing as it is nostalgic. Although it’s a relatively short game and it’s certainly not for everyone, for the right audience it’s a very satisfying game/story, and it’s exactly as long as it needs to be. I was very pleasantly surprised by this game and highly recommend it.

Stories Untold Steam Page

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