Written by  :  krisko6 (569)
Written on  :  Oct 15, 2017
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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Summary

Four Stories. One Nightmare.

The Good

* Compelling narrative

* Varied themes and mechanics

* Lots of twists and surprises

* Detailed, realistic objects to interact with.

* Great soundtrack, voice acting, and sound design

The Bad

* Some parts of the game don't look so good

* Text parser and mechanical issues for each game.

* Can't save any episode in the middle.

The Bottom Line

Stories Untold is an anthology of four short, experimental, horror-themed adventure games. Utilizing a common motif of 1980s technology, Stories Untold takes the player through several scenarios that are vastly different in theme and gameplay mechanics.

The first episode, “The House Abandon”, is a text adventure with a twist. The game takes place in a 3D room, with you playing the game on a CRT tv. You’ll use a text parser to navigate the game’s story. As you play, various things will happen in the surrounding room.

The second game, “The Lab Conduct”, has the player follow a scientists’ instructions by operating lab equipment. The player and the scientist are researching a strange artifact. You’ll be using point and click to interact with the various machines, while navigating between a terminal on the other side of the room which contains all of the instructions on how each electronic works.

The third game, “The Station Process”, has the player on a radio station in the middle of the Arctic while strange events are happening in the world. Here, the player must tune their radio and figure out various codes by following the instructions in a microfilm on the left side of the room.

The last game, “The Last Session”, features mechanics and themes from all of the previous games, and reveals the overarching story happening between them. While the individual episodes have supernatural and science fiction overtones, the main story is ultimately much more grounded in reality. Some players will understandably feel cheated by this. Others simply won’t like where the story ends up. Even still, it’s hard to deny how well told and brilliantly revelatory the whole thing is, and it makes you reinterpret the rest of the game in an entirely different light.

Graphically, Stories Untold looks pretty decent for most of the time. The various technological devices are finely detailed, and there’s a sense of visiting a highly realistic, detailed gameworld. The atmosphere is impressively realized, with great lighting. However, there is an unfortunate amount of blurriness and camera filtering during more active sections of the game, and some of the textures don’t look great up close. Graphic settings are also virtually non-existent. There’s also some odd micro-stutter that was happening on my system, though as most of the game is ultimately stationary its not something I noticed for long.

The audio is fantastic, with very good voice acting and an ‘80s inspired synth soundtrack that grows increasingly eerie over the course of each game. It’s most effective during the first episode, but all of the episodes have fantastic aural moments.

The individual games have their own little issues. The text parser in “The House Abandon” can be oddly specific at times. You will often run into that classic text adventure problem of knowing what must be done, but not what to type to actually accomplish that. The actual puzzles are very simplistic to offset this, but it can still be annoying. The game gives you no help or list of commands you can use. Typing in a bad command can also waste time, as you have to wait for the terminal to finish typing before you can type anything again. The microfilm in “The Station Process” is extremely difficult to read, even though you can zoom the camera into it for a better view. “The Lab Conduct” can just feel like you are following orders for most of it, and there is a certain puzzle during that game that is visually difficult to solve because the clues flash by so fast. Finally, there is no way to actually save in the middle of an episode: it all has to be done within one sitting.

Stories Untold isn’t one of the more technically accomplished games to come out in 2017, but it didn’t really need to be, either. Instead, it offers a surprisingly compelling, provocative story that you will almost certainly want to see through to the very end. Combine that with great atmosphere and some surprsingly tricky puzzles in the latter half, and you have a very unique adventure game, one that effectively blurs the lines between a conventional game and an art game. The only real complaint I can lodge against Stories Untold is its very, very short length. Still, I think the price is just right for what it offers.