We all have that member of our family. Whether it be some distant uncle, overzealous cousin or even an elderly grandfather. We all have that member of our family who tells the grand “stories” of their lives. I say “stories” as they are normally filled with inaccuracies, massive flaws in logic, and general boasting. Even with all that, you can`t help but be enthralled as a small child. Hearing of my grandfather’s misadventures was a source of endless enjoyment around the dinner table. A Story About My Uncle uses this concept and asks What if they weren’t lying? What if when your uncle says he has been to space, he was actually there?
A Story About My Uncle imagines you as a child, trying to find his uncle after he does not return from another one of his grand excursions. He finds himself on an alien world. thanks to the transporter found in his uncle`s attic, and can freely roam around with the power of the adventure suit, armour designed by your uncle that allows the user to jump great distances, and swing from various parts of the environment, Bionic Commando style.
The entire game is narrated from the perspective of the child as an adult, telling their own child the tale, and this makes for interesting breaks in the telling of the narrative. We not only get to hear what he said to the aliens, but also this thoughts and feelings. It is quite a feat in a 2 hour game to have quite such a grasp of a character’s thoughts and feelings.
At its core this is a puzzle game. How do you get from A to B using your Spiderman powers? And there is a great amount of enjoyment to be had, simply swinging through the impressive alien landscape. It is one of these rare games where just the freedom of movement is enough to bring a smile to your face. The puzzles themselves are also fairly impressive. The learning curve is not so steep that you will feel infuriated early on, but has a large enough incline that you actually feel like you are learning about the physics of the worlds and the new mechanics the game presents you with. A particular stand out occurs around half way through your journey, in the caves. The monster that inhabits this cave can see you moving. So the area becomes navigating quickly and precisely before the monster opens its eye and eats you whole, and it does this incredibly well.
However, this specialised method of travel comes with its own issues. In the latter half of the game, and 4 or 5 new mechanics later, in one area the puzzles can get rather frustrating. As an upgrade to the suit, you gain some rocket boots, that can propel you forward slightly after a swing. In learning how these boots work you will, inevitably, fall off the planet into the cloudy abyss below. A lot. It makes the game no less enjoyable, but be ready to reload checkpoints a lot.
This game makes me feel like I’m seven again, listening to my grandfather at that dinner table listening to him go on and on. It is so filled with wonder and mysteries, paired with innocent joy of swinging like a chimpanzee. A Story About My Uncle is a joy to behold.