Stories Untold – A Unique and Eery Puzzler
Developer: No Code
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Text Adventure/Adventure
With most game reviews, you can usually guess how the game you’re playing will unfold. Games fall into certain genres, with those genres having design elements and trappings that those games adhere to. I began playing Stories Untold feeling like I knew where the game would take me. “Type this, type that – it’s a text adventure, after all” I told myself. What actually happened was one of the most memorable gaming experiences I’ve had in years, as Stories Untold takes the player on an unpredictable but thoroughly engrossing journey.
The game takes a lot of inspiration from the 80s. From the amazing synth-heavy introductory music, to the retro game consoles and technology, to some of the screen effects used, Stories Untold has an 80s vibe on-par with Netflix’s recent Stranger Things. If you’ve seen Sticky Trigger’s website, YouTube channel and my personal Twitch channel, you’d know that I’m a massive fan of the new retro wave scene, synths and neon colours. It is a style that can be many attempt but few actually fully succeed with, but No Code triumph where others fail.
Stories Untold opens with the player walking up to their desk to play a text adventure game on their computer. If you’ve played a game like Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire and Planetfall you’ll know what to expect. On screen, players are presented with a narrative, which they can interact with using a number of different commands. These commands are typed up on your keyboard, with the in-game keyboard acting as though you were using it – it’s a nice little touch that adds to the immersion of the game.
Not long into the first chapter of Stories Untold does the game’s greatest asset reveals itself. Upon reaching certain points within your in-game game’s narrative, the world around you reacts. Sitting at your desk, you’ll read that the power has gone out in the in-game house, with the power then going out in your house. Think of it as the next evolution of text adventure gaming, where you read the narrative in-game and the world around you is affected. This is much more than a simple text adventure.
The first time this happened in Stories Untold my heart skipped a beat. I was streaming the game on my Twitch channel with an audience, and the entire room said the same thing. No text adventure game (that I know of) has done this before – created a world for you to play the game in that is affected by your actions. It was at this moment that I found myself compelled to finish Stories Untold – something I can’t promise of every game.
I won’t be going into detail with the narrative to avoid spoilers and for that reason this will be a shorter review than usual.
After completing the first chapter of the game, gameplay starts to begins move past simply being a text adventure, incorporating elements from puzzle games. Some of the puzzles can be quite difficult, though they are rewarding as once you progress past them you really do feel a sense of achievement for being able to beat them at all. At one point, you are challenged to break a cypher, listening to Morse code and then working out what numbers the letters translate into. Another puzzle sees you resucitating yourself with medical equipment (yes, you resucitate yourself).
There is so much to enjoy about Stories Untold. The narrative is left with just enough intrigue and mystery to make it hook you in until the end, and the twists present are truly ones you don’t see coming. The whole game has an eery feel to it – you’re never comfortable with each of your hubs that you interact with and that is due to some really clever design choices. Each and every aspect of the game compliments the other to create a wonderfully immersive puzzler. It might not be the longest game, but you get bang for your buck and won’t be left disappointed.
|Stories Untold mixes an eery atmosphere with fiendishly clever gameplay to create one of the best puzzle games in years. It's engrossing, mysterious and very, very clever. A must-play for puzzle fans.||4.5 4.5 ( on 5 rating)|