Now Playing: Stories Untold

I was under the impression that Stories Untold was kind of a weird text adventure simulator, and I’m no even entirely sure why that appealed to me since I was never into text adventures, but luckily there’s a bit more to it than that. It’s true that part of it is something of a text adventure simulator, but there are also a few other types of puzzles involved.

The game is divided into 4 episodes, each with their own theme and play style. The first is the text adventure, which luckily has a heaping helping of atmosphere thanks to the detailed, dynamic background that undergoes certain changes as the story progresses. This really helps sell the experience and makes things turn genuinely creepy.

The second one is very different and wants you to perform a long series of experiments using only a very basic manual on a computer screen behind you. Things get very strange and sci-fi here, and it doesn’t seem like these episodes actually have anything to do with each other, but *mild spoiler* THEY DO.

The third one was actually my favorite, another suspenseful sci-fi mystery featuring a lot of pseudo-programming language and decoding, though sometimes it was a bit hard to read the figures on the screen you have to keep checking (though it became easier once I realized there was a nearly invisible zoom slider on the monitor).

This was my only real complaint about the game, that things could be a little unintentionally unclear at times. The puzzles themselves make sense, but sometimes getting certain devices to work the way you wanted or expected them to could give you a little trouble. The hard to read text is one example, another is a certain glyph matching puzzle in chapter 2 that might have actually just been broken. Walkthroughs claim that there’s supposed to be a visual clue if your perform a certain action, but I could never get it to appear and so there was no way to get the correct combination without looking it up.

The text adventure parts had some issues with syntax too, though that’s hardly surprising for a text adventure. I had trouble with a part involving a whiskey bottle, where it was clear what I was supposed to do, but even though the text had been referring to it as “the bottle”, every command I tried involving “the bottle” failed to have any effect. Turns out you can only do it by referring it to “the whiskey”, even though the game itself had just referred to it multiple times as “the bottle”. Ended up having to look that one up too. Oh well.

While it’s hard to just shrug off bugs that can make progressing impossible without looking up the answer, I still don’t think it was enough to spoil the experience. It’s still a very unique and creative experience (and chapter 4 does explain the point of it all), and I still enjoyed most of my short time spent with it (under 3 hours) and would recommend it to fans of psychological horror, puzzles, and things with cool 80’s aesthetics.

3 comments on “Now Playing: Stories Untold

  1. I had a really good time with this. Found it very creative, although it did chug a bit in the third game when you’re given the chance to explore a little. I can’t think of another game like it to be honest.

  2. Mill says:

    I really hope text adventures make a comeback someday.

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