Review: Stories Untold

Watching the short intro sequence to episode one of this game, you’d be forgiven for making a few comparisons with the excellent Netflix show, ‘Stranger Things’. That half minute sequence is where the similarities end, however. Just thought I’d get that out of the way, as I’ve seen more than a few comparisons between this game and that show.

Second (sort of) disclaimer: I love short, weird little games that you can lose yourself in for an evening, and then never touch again. This is one of those games – expect to finish it in about two hours.

The game is split into four separate ‘episodes’, which you must play in order. Each one has different mechanics, but they’re all played from a first person perspective, and mostly involve clicking on various things in front of you, or typing commands into a computer of some sort. And, of course, it’s heavy on horror and mystery elements.

The first episode was originally released on its own for a game jam, and is far and away the best. You start off with absolutely no context, or idea of what to expect, and that’s what makes it so great. Also, unlike later episodes, it works perfectly well as a standalone experience. And this brings me to the game’s biggest problem – the story.

I’m not going to talk about the story itself, but this paragraph will discuss some elements of the narrative structure, which could be seen as mild spoilers. So I don’t blame you if you want to go ahead and skip the next paragraph entirely.

The first episode is great because it could easily exist as a self-contained, interactive creepy pasta. The mechanics are also genuienly fun and interesting. The second and third episodes start to hint at the over-arching story more and more, and the mechanics in these aren’t nearly as fun. In fact, the main gameplay mechanic in episode 3 is downright tedious. Episode 4 brings together the mechanics of the previous episodes, and introduces a few more. But none of the latter episodes were as fun to play as the first. As the big picture becomes clearer, the game becomes a bit less fun. Now, I like when a story starts off full of mystery, and moves towards a clear, concise conclusion. And this does that, and does it fairly well. There are no loose threads at the end of episode four, nothing left to the imagination. But the problem is that the actual resolution is so unoriginal, and unsatisfying, that I couldn’t help feeling that something a bit more abstract might actually have been more effective.

Overall though, it’s a great way to spend an evening. I would have happily played another four episodes of this. Play it, enjoy the ride, but don’t expect any sort of amazing payoff at the end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *