Stories Untold is an Adventure game with a horror vibe, having you sit at your computer to play through a series of games that affect both the game world and the real world. Developed by No Code, Untold is very indie in its design and execution, from the retro look to the simplistic controls. Almost like a simulator, Untold has you type on your keyboard to type on a keyboard… Flashbacks to the World of World of Warcraft.
With Untold there are 4 episodes/games/levels to playthrough, it is hard to define what these are as each game is different in design, gameplay as well as giving a different intro. The first tape is called The House Abandon which is a remaster of the first release, having you travel through an old home, setting up a computer and having the game reset as you enter a dreary home with the player seemingly in the room with the computer and you controlling an intruder of sorts.
Without spoiling too much for the next episodes, there 3 following missions have you controlling different people in different environments. While they are all designed wonderfully and engaging, the first game had the biggest impact, though that could be due to the source material being solid in the first place. The 1st and 4th cassette left the biggest mark, having a good intro and ending to the collection.
Each episode will take around 30 minutes to 1 hour in game time, completing the collection in under 4 hours. It does feel rather short at times, with little replayability to be had besides typing random entries to see if they will work. It is a sad thing when the game forces you to play the episodes in order, from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, while it isn’t that big of a deal it would have been nice to have the choice to start where you like.
Untold is played like plenty of MUDs from the past, type in text, press enter and see the computer scroll text back to what happens. Almost the entire game is done with the keyboard, typing in to move a direction, look around, interact with objects or use your items on objects. The mouse comes into play in later episodes where you interact with other objects in the real world. It can be rather straightforward at times, frustrating at others, but you’re often given hints. There are some puzzles and riddles here and there, but if you’ve played any type of text or puzzle game in the past you should get through them easy enough.
When you complete actions in the computer game it will sometimes affect the real world, this is again shown best in the first episode. Turning on a generator to turn on the lights and text stating that your phone is ringing. The interaction with the outside world becomes a bit more in-depth in the later levels where you can look around your office or room to inspect other monitors or information which is necessary for the game or program.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The game doesn’t make use of a lot of music, focusing more on ambient sounds, the typing of the keyboard and its replies, and the sound effects of actions. While these all blend lovely and create an amazingly immersive experience, making me jump out of my skin a few times too many, it doesn’t really add that awesome feeling that music can instil. While it’s not the main objective of the game to be cool, its style of sound design is top notch for most of its runtime.
Since the game is mostly played with the keyboard, there isn’t much chance of bugs or glitches, only a set path you need to find. This can be very troublesome when the game becomes too narrow and more of a visual novel in gameplay. While a normal game allows you 3D movement, an inventory and crafting, moving from that to a game where you must type “go to my room” can feel like a heavy downgrade. There are times where typing an action will cause something unexpected to happen, sometimes infuriatingly, forcing you to type the exact phrasing the game wants.
Overall Stories Untold gets a 7/10, it emulates the old text adventures beautifully, while bringing them into a more modern setting with the visuals and sound design. It is a bit short, but at £6.99 that can be overlooked. It does constrain your choices at times but rewards proper play with lovely visuals, sound effects or a spook or two. It is amazing at immersion but does lack a few fine points to round out the experience. Longer episodes, more controls and more choice could have gone a long way to improve this game.
Stories Untold was Reviewing on PC via Steam