Experience four strange and unsettling horror stories in this compilation of text adventure games.
Developer: No Code
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
Stories Untold is a horror game divided into four episodes. The first one, “The House Abandon” places you at a desk with an old CRT monitor in front of you. That monitor then displays the name “The House Abandon,” and launches into a text adventure game. Yet as you play the adventure game, changes occur in the world around the monitor, too.
This sense of playing a game within the game is only the start of the strange, unsettling atmosphere found in Stories Untold. Rather than rely on many jump scares or traditional horror game elements, it builds up the player’s uneasiness with subtle signs that something is wrong. The four episodes are distinct in both style and setting, which makes it feel a bit as though you’re playing through a collection of short horror stories—although as you play further, you may begin to suspect an overarching connection between them.
While it’s described as a text adventure game, it also has point-and-click adventure sections. Both types of gameplay have their strengths and weaknesses.
The text-based sections do a fantastic job at building a creepy atmosphere, especially with the odd fourth wall breaking mentioned above. Unfortunately, the game can be annoyingly specific with the phrases it expects, and you might find yourself stuck trying variations of your command over and over until you hit upon the exact word it needs. Meanwhile, the point-and-click sections are more intuitive, but it is sometimes difficult to tell what you can interact with in the environment—especially in the third episode, where the lever needed to zoom in on a microfilm scan is easily missed. Another puzzle relies on your ability to hear instructions read to you over the radio, which can lead to unnecessary frustration if you can’t make out the words.
However, these are only minor stumbling points in a game that otherwise has intuitive gameplay. Unlike many adventure games that often present you with obscure puzzles, Stories Untold instead gives you equipment to operate and codes to figure out.
It’s a short game, as each episode can be finished in under an hour. Yet the story’s presentation—the dialogue, atmosphere, mystery, and growing sense that nothing is what it seems—makes it work well as a tight, concise package. If you like horror stories and adventure games, Stories Untold is worth a look.
The Final Word
Stories Untold has its frustrating moments and will only take you a few hours to complete. Nevertheless, its four episodes build up such an intriguing, unsettling atmosphere, the experience is well worth it for fans of horror stories.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4 out of 5 – Good