Is this bedtime adventure enough to make you dream of wonders, or just another forgettable snooze fest?
Much like Gone Home, A Story About My Uncle presents you the story with the direct narration of the protagonist of the game, who in this case, is a father telling a bedtime story to his daughter; in this case however, it’s in past tense, as an adult’s retelling of certain events he may or may not have experienced as a child. The child, now a man telling his tale to his daughter, decides to tell a story about how he went on an epic and wondrous adventure looking for his disappeared uncle Fred. Uncle Fred was an explorer and a scientist, always leaving for long periods of time for his investigations.
After having left for longer than normal, the young boy got worried, and began to eavesdrop on his uncle’s inventions. Finding what seemed to be a special suit, or exoskeleton armour, akin to what he remembered his uncle to wear, but made for his measurements, he decided to put it on. That’s how his adventure began. Fast forward a bit later in the story and the boy also finds another of his uncle’s inventions: A grappling glove. The glove was capable of shooting plasma grapples, so much like Spider-Man, it gave him the ability to grapple around the air, giving him extra mobility.
I would rather not go too much into detail with the story, because it really is the kind of tale that needs to be experienced firsthand, and not told through the cold spellings of a review. I will say this however; it’s been a while since I’ve felt such childlike wonder when experiencing a game before, which in this case, suits the game like a glove, because this title is literally about a bedtime story for a kid.
Like I mentioned before, the world portrayed in A Story About My Uncle is full of wonder and mystery. The graphics are simple and cartoony, but not devoid of charm and colour. This is something that I will always praise about indie games, where big budget titles go for flash and adrenaline, indies tend to go for more artistic and subtle ways on making their games great. The formula definitively works with A Story About My Uncle.
Considering how A Story About My Uncle is literally an adult’s retelling of a past event as a bedtime story to his daughter, the game really does unfold like a children’s book. The environments have a soft but brightly coloured look, and there’s a lot of variety in the places that you go through. Towns have locals speaking in alien tongues, all with quirky designs, and other, more mysterious places really give you a sense of intrigue, and even horror, almost directly responding to the narrator’s words.
The interactions between the father and daughter also add a lot of charm and innocence to the story. Sometimes, the girl will have questions regarding the story the protagonist is telling, and many times, it’s directly related to what you, the player, is seeing as well, almost as if the girl is asking the question in your stead. The game is almost cementing the childlike curiosity it’s giving you, by giving it a voice through the little girl’s interactions with her father.
As immersive and beautiful as the world is, we can’t fully experience the world if the sound is sub-par. This is not the case with A Story About My Uncle. It really is impressive how the music boosts the experience in this game. Perfectly composed and timed, each musical piece fits the moods, colours and places you are going through, giving it a proper theme and feeling. Even by themselves, a lot of these musical pieces would be great to listen and relax to. As far as environmental sounds and voices go. They all work wonderfully as well. I would seriously recommend using headphones for this experience, as you really get the best out of the game’s sounds when they have a direction tied to them.
A Story About My Uncle is a first person platforming game with a great emphasis on movement and air control. The basic suit you find in the beginning of the game provides you with superhuman strength (which later becomes a plot device) and the ability to jump extremely high and far.
The initial part of the game is all about managing your jumps and rhythm in the air. While airborne, you still maintain partial control of your movement, so sometimes, adjusting your jumping efforts while floating does become a crucial point in your platforming adventures.
Later on you will find other gadgets and upgrades for your suit like the rocket boots, but most notably, you’ll be using the grapple glove the most. After discovering the grapple glove, the game almost completely shifts its platforming layouts to accommodate to your new-found device. Using the grapple glove is extremely simple, you just point to an object within range of the grapple, and then click. Immediately, with no delay, the plasma like grapple will propel you to the air, and drag you to the point which you grappled. Timing in these sections is imperative, as letting go too soon could mean falling to a bottomless bit, or letting go too late, could mean slowing your momentum down, making you fall as well.
It feels extremely rewarding to grapple around the environments, and does get progressively more difficult as you continue on the adventure, so the satisfaction for completing those harder areas really makes the struggle worth it. Movement in a first person game has never been so rewarding and exciting, in my opinion.
The game has some collectibles and alternative modes to play around with. You’ll find some machines with research findings lying about in the world as you travel, which add a nice, optional side of the game for the completionists out there. Other extras include a goat mode, in honour of Goat Simulator, and others such as Midas mode and Acrobatic mode, which add some sort of variety to the game. Not really necessary in my opinion, but a rather nice touch, for the people who might want some extra flare out of their adventure.
Considering that the whole point of the game is to get to point A to point B, I never got the sense that the path was too linear, and never had the trouble of getting lost either. The environment makes a great job at guiding you of where you should be heading next.
As an extra note, one minor gripe I have with the grappling mechanic is that sometimes, it felt like some objects that where evidently within range were not reachable until I got even closer to them, while in other cases, objects that seemed to be out of range were indeed able to the grappled. I’m not sure if it was an inconsistency, or perhaps my range perception in the game was off.