A Story About My Uncle is a first-person platforming game created by developers Gone North Games, and what a treat it is. The creators have made a game that not only plays well and challenges the mind, but which looks fantastic and keeps you interested throughout, both in the visuals and gameplay.
It begins with your character talking to his daughter and telling her a bedtime story about the wild adventures he shared with his Uncle Fred, a researcher and scientist who travelled all over the world collecting data. It is up to you to find your uncle, who has gone missing from his house. Along your way, you will encounter an alien, a young girl by the name of Maddie, who teaches you information about where you are and offers to help you find your missing uncle. While she talks directly to you, you don’t respond directly. Instead, the game uses narration – you telling your daughter the story. It’s a nice approach instead of the usual dialogue and provides a bit of charm to this already powerful game, and because there is no direct dialogue between the characters, you don’t know exactly what was said. Maddie’s character is excellent – as well as being witty and intelligent, she keeps the youthful innocence alive within this world. While she does help out, she isn’t your saving grace; it is still down to you to get to the end of your journey.
The level structure is well thought out, intricate and challenging. In the same way that the Portal games were very trial and error, A Story About My Uncle will have you scratching your head at points, but it’s unlikely you will be stuck for hours figuring out what to do. There are the odd puzzles that you won’t run through as quickly as you would first think, but after a few attempts you’ll suddenly realise what you must do. It’s challenging at times without being infuriating – a quality that many games lack. Rarely does a title seem to find that balance between easy and hard and make it work so well, yet A Story About My Uncle manages it.
To navigate your way around the level, you’ll need the grappling device, which allows you to grapple up to three times in the air on any platform or object. You will be given your 3 grapples back when you hit the ground. You can charge it up and perform a high jump to help you onto platforms that wouldn’t be accessible with a normal jump, or it can be used to get closer to an object or grab-point. Last but not least you can use it as a booster when in the air to both keep you from falling and to give you some speed and height, sort of like a jetpack. The levels are designed in such a way that you will, more than likely, have to use a couple of them to navigate correctly. Sometimes you have to use every last resource possible to get past obstacles that require thought and a very well-timed execution. Instead of relying on combat A Story About My Uncle challenges you to avoid being spotted. To do so, you will need a great sense of timing. It brings a whole new aspect to the already enticing game and allows you to change up your approach, while keeping things fresh and exciting.
The visuals are breath-taking. A wide range of colours make A Story About My Uncle a truly magical experience when jumping from platform to platform or swinging around the beautifully designed levels. It grabs your attention from the very start and holds it throughout, as you explore caves and the outside world during both night and day. Every area has a personality, and each level can stand on its own merits and contains more than enough to admire. Down in the mines, for example, there are flowers that, when hit with a grapple shot, light up and illuminate their immediate area, not only helping you advance further but also creating real beauty.
VERDICT: A Story About My Uncle is a captivating and engaging experience. Once you put on that suit and are launched into the sky, you begin a journey that will have you smiling throughout, even during the challenging moments. It’s a game of beauty and wit, converging to create a truly wonderful experience full of dazzling artwork and obstacles that demand some thought to overcome. Some may find A Story About My Uncle too easy, some people may find it infuriating; most, however, will be engrossed in its ever-glowing and charismatic fantasy world.