Review – Stories Untold (Switch)
LOOK -> AROUND
You are sitting on your couch. Your daughter is at the table, scrolling through Facebook. Your son is on his tablet, watching Fortnite videos on YouTube. The TV is playing, your wife binge watching Law & Order SVU. Your Nintendo Switch sits on the end table nearest you.
PICK UP -> SWITCH
You reach out and pick up your Switch. The Splatoon green and pink joy-cons perfectly nestled in each hand.
TURN ON -> SWITCH
Powering up the handheld, electric sex quickly fills your eye holes. All of your recently played games show up, including a newly downloaded copy of STORIES UNTOLD.
PLAY -> STORIES UNTOLD
Stories Untold, for the Nintendo Switch, is a direct port of the 2017 PC game by No Code Studio. This is, itself, an anthology of four short stories centered around their 2016 free title: The House Abandon. Finishing this unlocks the chapter for The Lab Conduit, which unlocks The Station Process, which lastly unlocks the aptly named The Last Session.
Last year, Devolver Digital brought us Observation, which had me pulled in and enjoying the entire ride. Now, taking a look back at Stories Untold, you can see the natural progression of how No Code likes to tell their stories. You are given a mystery and you are given the tools, and even instructions, on how to solve that mystery. The gameplay is in the unwrapping.
The game has you kicking things off with The House Abandon. This late 70’s style text-based adventure is probably both the most eerie of the bunch and the most simple. You are given a setting and then a small list of actions such as “Go To” or “Look”. Using an action then shows you a second small list of objects and locations. Some actions can’t be seen or activated until you do others, but the game will always let you know which. If you have played the point-and-click adventure game on Switch, such as Thimbleweed Park, you have a pretty good idea of how the actions work.
The following chapters progress on the gameplay, allowing you to more actions and replacing some of the text-based an audible story and even instructions. In each game, you are told exactly, even if indirectly, what to do. It will never just be, “Press X” but rather, “Press X” and then having to learn that “Blue = X”. Like I said earlier, the gameplay is in the unwrapping.
The beauty and freedom with dealing with short stories is that you don’t really have to explain anything. All the games tie loosely together which gives Stories Untold a nice cohesion without having to ever give you an entire story with a beginning, middle and end. No Code does try to wrap up the story in their last chapter which some may prefer, I did not. I like the smaller camp-fire story feel. To only be told enough to creep me out. All in all, the games last about 10-25 minutes with a one-time play-thru of everything in about 90 minutes.
There is no saving during any of the chapters. The game saves after each chapter ends so if you have to leave in the middle of one and your game closes out, you will lose your progress. But with how short each chapter is, the issue is either easily avoided or not at all punishing.
Sadly, Stories Untold does not take advantage of the one thing that would make a Switch version stand out: its touch screen. You will need to use your thumb stick to move your cursor to the desired action and click on it, then to the desired object/location and click again. The small screen can also make it tough to read some of the text. Thankfully, No Code allows you to Zoom in on a part of the screen but you will need to hold your camera there or it will snap back to the center. These small technical issues of porting to a smaller handheld really just accentuate the odd call to not include what could have been a large positive result.
Visually, the game looks great, but for the most part you are looking at an interactive wallpaper or two per chapter. It does do more later in the chapters as they approach the end and begin to tie all the stories together. After the text-based The House Abandon, the audio logs and radio transmittals are well acted out and work great within their short story space.
READ -> FINAL THOUGHTS
Even though Stories Untold loses some functionality moving from large monitor, mouse and keyboard to a handheld, and doesn’t help its cause by having touch screen capability, its short story format is a great inclusion to the Switch lineup. There is little to no replay value in the 60-90 minute game but at $10, it is a great collection of campfire ghost stories that should be experienced either separately or all together.
Great visuals even if mostly just a static interactive wallpaper or two per chapter. The need to Zoom to properly read text can be annoying.
Mostly point and click interaction, following directions to continue the story. Lack of touchscreen hurts.
The audio logs and radio transmissions are well acted out. Makes just as much use of knowing when not to have sound.
The fun is in the unwrapping of the tale. Not trying to piece together the mystery, but just to enjoy it.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Stories Untold is available now on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Stories Untold was provided by the publisher.