Abandoned and dark houses full of memories, laboratories with strange devices that seem to be used not only for good, a weather station infested with evil… Everything has its place in this experiment that No Code tells us called Stories Untold brings. All. Even the eighties touch that we like so much.
At the beginning we find a completely normal scene: a keyboard on your right, a TV screen on your left (yes, those tubes), a small lamp aimed at the table and, in our Spectrum, the game Abandoned House. we play, right?
The story begins with the protagonist sitting in a car in front of a house, the same one that appeared pixelated on the TV screen. But that image leaves the screen, making way for text that explains where we are and what we’re seeing. Because this is a conversational adventure video game where text description is absolutely everything. So we need to enter an action, enter simple commands (
We are in the car and after entering several actions we get out to go to our house. But once inside, what should be a leisurely stroll through the memories evoked by going back to that past goes awry and strange things start to happen. At that moment you realize that Stories Untold wants to tell us a mysterious story with a certain horror, but also by not showing you anything, they allow and force your imagination to visualize everything.
But this is the first of four independent episodes and with very different contexts between them, albeit with a most unexpected final twist that’s unlocked as you complete each one.
We move on to the second chapter, The Lab Conduct; a different location and mechanics. On this occasion, they propose us to experiment in a dark laboratory, following the instructions they give us while interacting with the classic point-and-click with devices clearly obsolete by technological advances (and Thank goodness!) and achieve exactly what they are looking for: create a strange feeling that something is wrong.
Let’s move on to the third chapter, The Station Process. A weather station that has been isolated by a storm – or something far worse – and where you are completely alone. But it also seems that they desperately need your help, so soon you’ll be synchronizing frequencies on the radio and consulting some old slides to decipher and write line codes without really knowing what they mean or what causes them.
Here I must pause to talk about these mysteries. These are puzzles that can get complicated, especially in this third chapter, but that depends on how good or bad we are at solving puzzles in general. Without the use of guides, at some point you will likely feel stuck at the point where you are removed from the story. But as I always say, when you manage to overcome something that has cost a lot, the satisfaction is greater.
About the fourth and last one, The Last Session, I’ll tell you a little bit so as not to ruin the game. What sense would it make? The best thing about this proposition is playing it with the knowledge that the fewer the better.
Stories Untold is very clear about what they want to convey to us as we play. I’m not talking about the memory of retro nostalgia that surrounds every detail of the title, but also about the loneliness in each chapter, that feeling of being lost and not knowing who to turn to for help. In doing so, they skilfully focus on two aspects. The first is the script, a short, intense, original and painstakingly crafted story in which they show they know how they wanted to tell it. They play with our minds as they will, reminding us that the power of the imagination cannot be overcome by an image.
The second aspect that I would like to praise is the sound section. It’s not that it just doesn’t go unnoticed, but that it’s an active part that takes you back to the eighties, highlighting the message they want to convey to you, which little by little in the form of fear, mystery, suspense and makes you see or feel things where there are none. . It’s impossible not to think of movies like Halloween, what would it be without the John Carpenter soundtrack? No code has achieved anything similar. To think of Stories Untold without its soundtrack would be to take away part of its identity.
It’s a real shame that it’s too obvious that the launch was meant for gaming on PC. If you don’t play it on it, you clearly feel that this was the best platform to play, since we have to mess with computers, manipulate buttons and tools and everything is much more agile and natural when you play it on PC.
Stories Untold is a risky endeavor. It’s quite an experiment to bring back some mechanics that were innovative in their time and have almost completely fallen into oblivion. A story (or four) that manages to captivate you from the first moment. It’s clear that since they’re separate chapters, not all of them will produce the same impact, but as a whole they’ll manage to maintain that tension while subtly flirting with horror.
Short but frightening stories. A terror based more on narrative than spectacular graphics, something that seems unthinkable lately. But he doesn’t need it either, because he knows how to create a good framework with what he has, because what he offers and shines through is his personality. This mix of old and new; to restore and renew the classic genre.
It’s strange how most everyday situations manage to create a more suffocating, confined and dangerous atmosphere than those you live in further away. How they tell you a story in an innocent and harmless way while gradually poisoning you with that atmosphere of oppression that keeps you trapped until it becomes a nightmare.
It’s not a title that everyone will like, you need to be clear about what kind of game it is before playing it. But it’s worth checking out this experimental thriller full of strange events that had the guts to make us appreciate a script more than graphics.