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Stories Untold Review

July 12th, 2017 by

Stories 001Stranger Things.  That was the first thought that came into my head.  From the music to the imagery of VHS tapes and 80′s electronics. You begin the first chapter “A House Abandon” sitting in front of a big chunky CRT TV, next to it what looks like a Spectrum +2. Text begins to fill the screen prompting a typed response from me.  “Oh for f**k sake “, I thought, there is a reason I hated text adventures back in the day.  At the time I couldn’t type very fast and I couldn’t spell so it would take ages. This was why point and click came to be as people were tired of typing.

These days, I can certainly type very fast but I still can’t spell.

But I soldiered on and then the battle started.  The house is too dark.  I need to turn on a generator.  The generator is round the back.  I try and get round the back of the house but being constantly greeted with confusion as I type in commands and the constant message, “you can’t do that”. It was like I had been transported back 30 years.  “I don’t want to go back inside the house” I typed. “I’m sorry I don’t understand” it replied. I typed in some swear words.

In the end It was obvious.  Then I got into the swing of it. Taking myself back in time.  Trying to rekindle the patience I had before I had kids. What then transpired was not your normal text adventure.  In fact these elements are actually kept to a minimum.  What I was doing on screen started to influence the things around me.  Things begin to become sinister.  I don’t like sinister.

As you progress through the subsequent chapters, so the puzzle elements change.  “The lab Conduct” sees you perform experiments, referring to manual and turning equipment on and off. Chapter 3 “The station process” see you on a remote weather station with  a radio, a screen, and a microfilm.  Remember microfilms? Always seen in films where an intrepid investigator attempt to uncover a mysterious plot.  What they never show you is these machines are a pain to use.

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This game should be treated with patience, going back to a more analogue age where you had to flick through pages or screens to get your information.  Like the old days of doing your homework where you didn’t have the internet. You couldn’t copy and paste.  You had to go the library where the book you actually needed has been already borrowed out by someone else.  You were then left with pieces of information cobbled together from other sources.  Taking you the best part of a morning whereas you much preferred to be playing out on your bike. You had to do this because you had left it until the very end of the summer holidays.  I often got a D for that homework.  I hated those days and I bloody love the internet.  No more going into a petrol station late at night to buy porn.  Having to be slightly drunk so I had the courage to buy a copy of Club Magazine.  Oh the shame.

So entering commands in the game can be sometimes laborious but tasks are rarely repeated.  They are kept short and varied and the effects on the outside world become quickly apparent building the tension and driving you forward in the experience.  Melding genres from text adventure to walking simulator, this is a truly fascinating and unique experience.

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In normal circumstances, I would have turned this game off after 10 minutes. Dismissing it as another retro title playing on nostalgia.  This is a TV show with an overarching narrative.  Maybe the text adventure part could have been a little forgiving with it commands but at around 4 hours to complete, this is one of those games that you simply must play.  It is different, inventive and as the story reaches its climax a thoroughly rewarding experience.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10     Format:  PC      Release Date: 27th February 2017

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Stories Untold for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  1 week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

 

 

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