Posted on August 22, 2014, Phil Hornshaw A Story About My Uncle Review: With the Greatest of Ease
There’s something special about games that loosen the constraints of gravity, allowing players to fly through space as if weightless, as though flying and falling were perfectly natural, harmless activities.
When a game gets movement just right, it can be incredibly alluring. Spider-Man 2, for example, seems to rank highly in many a player’s mind — not for its story, combat, or many of its other elements, but for finely tuned ability to swing around its digital New York City.
A Story About My Uncle is less a story, or even really about an uncle, than it is a first-person platformer that focuses on the joy of unhindered movement and exploration. Imagine a game that’s basically about Samus Aran’s grapple beam and you have the gist of it. Wielding a special suit that protects from falls and an energy beam that lets the player grapple onto and swing from different surfaces, the goal is only to move forward, to cross space, to lose yourself in the game’s rich environments.
The alien world of A Story About My Uncle, through the lens of its bedtime story presentation, is often a beautiful and fascinating place to visit. Though the game could stand to be longer and perhaps somewhat deeper, it perfectly captures the feeling it sets out to invoke in players.
A Story About My Uncle
Platform: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Gone North games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Release Date: May 28, 2014
The disembodied voice of a father serves as the narrator for A Story About My Uncle, relaying a tale from his childhood to his young daughter about heading over to his eccentric uncle’s house and being swept up in adventure. It’s a pretty simple story: kid finds experimental equipment; kid puts self in experiment; kid finds himself in fun adventure times.
Regardless of the fact that the story’s rather thin, A Story About My Uncle nails both providing players with a strange world to explore and giving them the means to explore it. That comes in the form of a suit that absorbs fall damage, allows players to jump abnormally high and far, and carries a grappling beam that attaches to surfaces and draws the player toward them, bungee-like. Those simple tools give you the means to leap across chasms, firing beams at rocks and platforms, and sending you flying through the air.
A Story About My Uncle paints itself as the tale of a child exploring the unknown, and it’s a tone that’s perfect for the gameplay involved. There are no real dangers except falling into smoky bottomless pits, and scattered across each area are numerous checkpoints that mitigate the pain of failure.
This isn’t really a game about challenge and success, anyway — it’s about the joy of running fast, leaping far, feeling strong and climbing high. For the most part, the player’s suit allows for fluid, intuitive motion across increasingly complex environmental puzzles, and you’ll pretty easily figure out what you need to do and when. A Story About My Uncle is generally an easy game through which to play, and it feels good to do so.