One thing I’ve come to enjoy in some video games is the ability to fling yourself across the screen, whether using the momentum of a long jump or just outright flying. Of course, it’s not always something you can find in today’s ground-based FPS clones (Titanfall being a nice exception to that rule), but fortunately I found a game that promised such joys, albeit with an unlikely title: A Story About My Uncle.
The game centers on a bedtime story told by a father to his daughter, a story about how, as a boy, he went searching for his uncle in a strange new world, using an adventure suit to fly around a series of floating platforms and investigate more intricate mysteries. The game itself is a 3D platformer with some nice puzzle elements, all based around the mechanic of an adventure suit that features a grappling hook and rocket boots, offering the chance for some crazy maneuvers.
What does this game have to offer?
- An enjoyable platforming mechanic. Jumping from platform to platform is nothing new in gaming, but I do like the mechanic used to achieve this. You start off with a pair of rocket boots that let you make running leaps, but soon you can equip an electronic grappling hook that lets you swing across wide distances and get some truly spectacular jumps. It’s an exhilarating rush when you get it right.
- Beautiful scenery. The world of A Story About My Uncle is set in a strange land of floating islands, with colorful natives and an intriguing history. Even when you miss a platform and plunge into the waters below, it’s a nice view all the way down.
- A nice framing story. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the plot, but I like the idea that the whole game is recreating a bedtime story. It’s nice to hear of a video game protagonist who starts their own family offscreen and gives the whole experience a nice atmosphere of adventure.
- Issues with depth perception. One of my biggest complaints with the game is the graphic detail. In my case, I had so much trouble trying to stick my landing on certain platforms because of depth perception issues. You won’t know how to gauge your rocket jumps and swings until you’ve missed the same target 11 times in a row. You need the best eyes and precise timing in order to advance from one level to another.
- A very linear approach. You’d think that this game would encourage a little more exploration, but the path is so linear and the cues aren’t so obvious that it’s hard to visit anywhere except for points on the predetermined game path. At least in a game like Portal, you can step in and out of different portals, with the potential of getting stuck somewhere or visiting a hidden room. Not so much here.
On the whole, I enjoyed the environment and gameplay of A Story About My Uncle. The story itself was a bit flat, but I didn’t mind so long as I was having fun, even though I felt more frustrated than engaged sometimes because of my aforementioned depth perception issues. It’s a game that requires patience, but yields some great results if you can manage it.
Bibliography: A Story About My Uncle. Developed by Gone North Games. Published by Coffee Stain Studios. Unreal (engine). Original release date: May 28, 2014.