I have to thank N4G for the privilege of reviewing this game and whilst I had finished up my initial analysis in the first few days, it took me a while to gather my thoughts.
A Story About My Uncle begins with you, the unseen father of a little girl, narrating the story of how the titular uncle mysteriously vanished and he had to go on a grand adventure to find him. It’s a heartwarming tale with very personal motives and human emotions and while you can probably guess most of the story beats as the narrative marches on, it’s does not take away from the message it tries to convey.
--NOW YOU’RE THINKING WITH…GRAPPLING HOOKS?--
A Story About My Uncle is a first person platformer in the vein of Portal. The unseen narrator dons a mechanical suit created by his uncle to aid in his adventure. The suit comes with a variety of story-based upgrades but the main feature, and arguably the game’s greatest start, is the grappling hook. Though I would argue against calling it a ‘grappling hook’ and more of ‘tether hook’. With your suit, you are able to latch on to certain objects and floating platforms in order to traverse the terrifying black abyss below you. It’s ASAMU’s answer to the Portal Gun.
Do note that my comparisons to Portal are meant to be in the very highest of praises. ASAMU is not a rip off of portal, it arguably evolved the genre to the next level. I am eager to see if more and more games take advantage of this.
See, whilst the Developer have made the grappling hook to be ASAMU’s biggest star, my favorite thing in this whole world about this game was its verticality. ASAMU’s stages aren’t that big along the X-axis but they sure as hell pushed the limits when it came to the Y-axis. During one stage, I fell for what seemed like more than ten seconds before the death screen came up. In a genre where falling means instant death, it gives scale and size to the setting. Plus, it makes it all the more sweet when you hear that *thud*
Ah yes, that *thud* that sweet, sweet *thud*. I loved it. See, the narrator’s suit allows him to survive falling from great heights and more often than not, you end up on your last hook, timing it just right so you’d swing with the highest momentum and end up soaring through the air, hearing the wind whooshing as your character flails before finally landing with a satisfying *thud* just at the very end of the ledge. There was no greater reward than hearing that sound after holding my breath for what seemed like minutes, hoping I timed it just right before giving out a sigh of relief as my character landed with a satisfying impact.
Difficulty wise, the game isn’t especially sadistic. I figured out most of the solutions without help, there were a couple of sections that I would label as ‘unfair’. In the end, though, the puzzles became very creative towards the final level.
Also, you end up getting rocket boots. Enough said.
--DO I LOOK PRETTY--
ASAMU’s graphics are competent and visually interesting. Although the underground cavern settings do end up looking all the same-y as they dragged on, the Devs tried to make them varied with a few quirks here and there. All in all, these levels paled in comparison to those set ‘outside’. There are beautiful skyboxes to behold as you swing high above the clouds. I really wished to see more of those levels instead of the overdone ‘abyss’ march but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.
--THAT DOESN’T SOUND RIGHT--
I really, really did not want to do this and I would have rated the game much higher were it not for this issue. The game’s sound is factually its weakest point. There are instances of stuttering, screeching noises and other audio mishaps that I’ve encountered over the course of the game. It detracted from the experience.
Dubbing is another offender. Some of the NPCs sounded adequate, if bored but the narrator’s voice was especially bad. I feel terrible for doing this and I realize there’s a strong possibility it might be one of the Developers but he just sounded so bored and lifeless. In a game about a parent telling a bedtime story to his child, the line delivery should strong yet gentle. The narrator’s voice is robotic, stilted as if he was embarrassed about doing this voice work.
--THIS WAS A TRIUMPH--
A Story About My Uncle Is a fantastic evolution for platformers. It is important game not only to showcase the importance and passion of indies but at the limitless possibilities you can take this genre if you expand your dimensions.
Now imagine this game with Occulus Rift or Project Morpheus support.
It’s a brave new world.