A Story About My Uncle (2014)
Developer: Gone North Games
Alright y'all, I hate to brag, I know some of you are going to be a little jealous, but... this game here is the first game I've beat on my brand new Steam Deck! Yes, I was early Q2. I'd be happy to to talk more about the experience I'm having with it, but for now I'll just say this game ran perfectly on it. A Story About My Uncle has been in my Steam backlog for such a long time now, and seeing it on the "Deck Verified" list made me decide to make it my next game and a great way to test out my new console. A Story About My Uncle is a first-person platformer about a boy who finds himself a strange dimension while looking for his uncle. A Story About My Uncle is somewhat narrow in its storytelling and world-building, but it's very successful in creating a fun, tight, satisfying platforming experience.
A Story About My Uncle is actually a narrated story that the protagonist, as an adult, is telling to his young daughter as a bedtime story. The story takes place when the protagonist was a young boy and used to visit his uncle's house, where he worked on his wild inventions with you. The game starts with a day where you visit your uncle's house and he's nowhere to be found. Exploring around the house full of notes and books strewn about, you find a strange bodysuit that's perfectly your size. You put it on and head up towards the observatory on the top floor. You turn on some mysterious machine and a hole in the ground opens, pulling you in to another world. This world looks like space-like, with islands of grass seemingly floating in air. This place looks mostly uninhabited, but you come across an abandoned campsite that must've be your uncle's. The suit you're wearing allows you to jump, grapple, and run freely around this unusual world, so you continue on a search for your uncle. Along your journeys, you'll discover a civilization of alien people who not only speak English but seem to know your uncle very well. Among them is Maddie, a sweet young girl (alien?) who decides to join you on your journey despite the fact that she was told not to leave her village.
I wouldn't say the graphics in A Story About My Uncle are incredibly impressive, but then you have to remember that this is an indie game from 2014. By that standard, it's pretty dang good for a 3D game. Some environments look a bit too almost too dark and are full of jagged surfaces, but some also look beautiful, life-like, and grandiose. The music is also not anything particularly standout-ish but was good at adding a mood of mystery and at times wonderment. The voice acting for the characters does a lot for the game's story, so I think it was a bit of a weird choice that the protagonist's voice was only "narrated" by the adult version of him like a storybook rather than spoken by him as a child. They could've let the narrator speak his thoughts and reaction through the adult voice while still having him speak to other characters through the child's voice in order to better understand him in that time and place. Regardless, I think including the voice of the adult protagonist and his daughter through the story did give this story a warm feeling of being very personal and memorable.
Sometimes having games on my wishlist or even in my backlog for a long times gives me the nice perk of being completely surprised by what type of game I find. This definitely happened with A Story About my Uncle. Instead of a story-heavy point-and-click game like I predicted, it was actually a first-person platforming with really cool, really tight controls. I don't play a lot of first-person platformers so for me this one was a really new and exciting experience. From the very beginning when you show up to the new world, your motion feels pretty limitless. Gravity seems to be different here as your jumps have huge momentum. Then, using the grapple, you can not only reach far away places but launch yourself with great force across the islands. There's actually a lot of precision involved in making sure you grapple the right surface at the right time to get where you want to go. It makes you feel like you can get anywhere, as long as you plan your moves well. The toughest part I had to get through involved falling blocks, which meant you had constantly be shooting yourself upward as well as forward as quick as possible. It was really tough, but I thought it was an interesting twist and it made the situation feel critical and dire.
A Story About My Uncle definitely was definitely telling an interesting story, but the story itself was a less prominent part of the game than I expected. This was fine by me, because the gameplay is where it really shines. However, I was a little disappointed with the way the ending played out. After an entire game's worth of searching, the ending felt anti-climatic and brief. The scene that the whole game builds up to and I thought would be most important lasted only about a minute and didn't really give me much of the closure or explanations I was looking for. Also, it was cool to meet the strange alien people on this world, but you only get to talk to like 4 of them total despite there being a big population. I understand this would've been hard to add, but it would've been cool even if it was repeated lines or short dialogue that they'd say as you walk by instead of just blank stares.
A Story About My Uncle was a really fun, really freeing platforming adventure. You feel as if you can do anything - you can almost fly with the amount of momentum that jumping and grappling gives you. Some parts were actually quite challenging, but I do think they would perhaps be easier if you had the precision of a mouse over a controller. The game does a great job of slowly giving you more abilities and then teaching you how to go beyond with those. The story's not as deep or memorable as I would've liked it to be, but it was wholesome nonetheless. It was a story of adventure, discovery, and meeting strange new friends. I recommend it if you like tricky platforming using cool abilities.
A Story About My Uncle is available on PC
Played on: PC (Steam Deck)
Playtime: 6 hrs