When I was growing up one of my favorite movies of the ‘80s was Creepshow. It blended horror with a pinch of sci-fi and contained multiple stories to form a sort of anthology of tales contained in a single package. During this time I had also dabbled in text adventures like Zork and later on I fell in love with point and click adventure games like Maniac Mansion. So, when Stories Untold for the Nintendo Switch came to my attention and looked to be a combination of the two mediums I simply had to give it a try. The end result is an example of a low budget game can still find ways to immerse players via creative storytelling.
For $10 you get four small bite-sized games with completely different narratives. Each has its strong points and depending on what kind of genres you’re interested in you’ll probably have a favorite. For me the initial offering, called The House Abandon, is the best of the bunch. Each of the four games pretty much take place in a single room with a computer or other machines to interact with. Here you’re sitting at a desk interacting with an old PC that uses cassette tapes as storage. The television displays the game you’re playing, which is a text adventure.
This instantly brought back memories of Zork, where everything in the game is conveyed through exposition. You can then bring up an interface that allows you to do things like “Look”, “Open”, “Move”, etc. You can then select another word to complete the action. For example, you begin the game inside your car, which is parked outside your family holiday home. The game tells you that you should probably look inside the glove box. So you’ll want to string together the command “Open Glove Box” to grab what’s inside. By today’s standards these sorts of actions are rather rudimentary, but they get the job done.
What makes all of the games in this collection so special is the writing, which really manages to set the mood rather well. Add in some moody music in the background and some other special graphical effects that take place inside the environment and the games really come to life. The first game utilizes HD Rumble in several parts to really jazz up the tension and I admit I jumped a few times, something no text adventure has ever been able to do before to me.
So, the first game has you exploring your old holiday home, and not all is as it seems. The second game is called The Lab Conduct and here you find yourself inside a lab running experiments. You’ll have to press buttons and turn knobs to figure out what’s inside the box! The third adventure is called The Station Process and in this scenario you find yourself in a monitoring station in Greenland. You have no way of communicating with the outside world as your microphone is broken, however you can hear the other two stations communicating with you, giving you directions on what operations need to be executed. Lastly there’s The Last Session, which sort of ties some of the stories together. The one common thread throughout is a sense of isolation and a sort of helplessness as you try to piece the mysteries together.
Stories Untold really resonated with me because it moved quickly from story to story and the creepy and mysterious plots kept me hooked. There’s a bit of trial and error with some of the puzzles, but for the most part the game wasn’t too difficult to solve. I had a fun time with the game, but I’m also probably their direct target market: someone who actually grew up playing these sorts of games. It’s difficult to say how much fun someone who has had zero experience with text adventures would have playing this one. I suppose if you enjoy reading or like other choose your own adventure stories as well as have a soft spot for sci-fi and horror then you should give this one a go. Most people will probably blast through each story in under an hour, and there’s really not much replay value, but I had a good time nonetheless!
Stories Untold Review
- Graphics - 5/105/10
- Sound - 5/105/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 4.5/104.5/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Stories Untold combines the old-school text adventure with modern day sensibilities. This one isn’t for the action fans out there – you’ll be mostly reading and solving small puzzles to progress. With four different stories and point and click interactions, fans of adventure games should consider picking this one up.