Some Thoughts On… Stories Untold
> Turn on computer
> Insert ‘Stories Untold‘ floppy disc
> Load game
> Get spooky
Stories Untold is an 80s-style text-adventure game mashed into a more modern atmospheric horror experience, and it’s pretty damn good. It takes place over four loosely-related chapters, each with its own theme but all revolving around a mechanic of typing commands into an interface of some kind, and then watching as everything around you goes weird. The game embraces the 80s sci-fi vibe it’s going for wonderfully with each chapter presented as a TV episode, and each reminding me of a different horror movie from the era (Evil Dead, The Thing, etc). As soon as I noticed those similarities my brain began filling in the blanks to provide extra tension. Thanks, brain. Keyboards click and electronics hum and CRTs flicker disconcertingly. You use FM radios and microfilm viewers to solve puzzles. Corded phones and pastel-coloured plastics abound. If you were looking for Stranger Things: The Game, here it is.
Your keyboard is slaved to whatever interface the chapter gives you, so you can just type away without worrying. The mouse, however, is free to move your vision slightly around the scene. This is where the horror gets you; it’s no longer just a text-adventure, it’s a first-person text-adventure. The spooky things from the game aren’t just being described, they’re happening to you right now oh god what was that?! Some chapters have you switching between a screen on the left and one on the right and bloody hell but that’s a heart-stopping moment every time you have to switch.
The biggest problem I came across in playing Stories Untold occurs in how the game’s text-parsing works (or doesn’t, as the case may be). Tension sometimes leaks out of the scenarios as you spend five minutes trying to work out why > WALK AROUND HOUSE won’t let you do just that. Thankfully the writing is pretty good at hinting to you the exact verbs needed, but it can be a little deflating to sit there figuring out the exact phrasing of > GO DO THING. Perhaps a patch to add some more words to the tick-list of correct verbs would help alleviate this.
I really enjoyed Stories Untold. As a self-professed coward, the horror elements were subdued and subtle enough to be enjoyable, and the theme and setting of the game was right up my alley. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a modern text-parser game, and for anyone who is enjoying the recent resurgence of 80’s nostalgia. It’s a creepy tale wrapped up in a neat three hour package. Turn out the lights, put on some headphones and enjoy.
Stories Untold is available on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/558420/
Let’s Play… Stories Untold
If you want to check out some Stories Untold gameplay, I streamed it live on the Ramshackle Thoughts Twitch channel, and the recordings are available on my YouTube channel if you’d care to watch. This is a full let’s play, so beware of spoilers. Enjoy!