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A Story About My Uncle (PC) artwork

A Story About My Uncle (PC) review

"A Story About Repetitive Grappling"

A Story About My Uncle (PC) image

I feel like a horrible person for writing this review. I may as well be a guy who grimaces at a box of puppies or gags at poetry. You see, A Story About My Uncle is a lovable action-adventure title. It stars a nameless, young man searching for his Uncle Fred, who has gone missing. The protagonist discovers a high-tech suit that allows its wearer to leap at extreme heights and lengths. It also sports a grapple beam function that clings to distant objects. Following this discovery, our hero hops through a teleporter into a subterranean world full of floating rocks and massive levitating islands. Obviously, his suit is perfect for survival in this realm...

In first-person perspective, you navigate the cave system by leaping from one island to another, occasionally utilizing a super jump or the aforementioned beam to snag the side of a land mass. As you advance, the obstacles become increasingly complex. Eventually, you must take hold of a floating rock and swing toward a second stone, grappling it midair, before landing on a distant platform. Mere stages later, you negotiate a series of flying boulders that drift through the air in circular patterns, while using a thrust feature on your shoes to speed across a wide gorge. In between rocks, you shoot at a cluster of crystals to refill your finite grapple beam charges.

For a while, the experience is exhilarating. You blast across a pit at high speed and watch as the scenery around you blurs. Or you soar upward at an awkward angle to grasp an out of reach target, only to fly toward a trio of massive windmill fins turning so quickly don't know which one to aim for.

A Story About My Uncle (PC) image

When your feet hit the ground, sometimes humble creatures are there to greet you. As it turns out, Uncle Fred kept amphibians in the caverns that evolved into anthropomorphs. They built a village using bags of trash that Fred tossed into the caves. They also learned to speak English with Fred's help, and some of them developed an unquenchable curiosity that led them out of the tunnels and into a gorgeous valley booming with technological advancements.

It's during these moments that you meet Maddie, Fred's assistant and basically his adopted daughter. Unlike the rest of her village, Maddie is brave, curious and intelligent. Her unbridled thirst for knowledge and her loyalty to Fred are endearing. I was genuinely glad to see her leave her hovel and enter the aforementioned valley. Her awe, combined with the acceptance she felt from the valley's citizens, was heartwarming. However, because she's an adorable character, I can feel my heart rending as I prepare to write the next sentence:

A Story About My Uncle is ultimately a tedious, mediocre affair. There, I said it.

Can you imagine an entire Zelda game that revolves around possessing only the roc's feather and the grappling hook? No dungeons, a minimal overworld, no side quests and only a string of challenges that involve grappling and/or jumping? That doesn't sound like a very tempting adventure, does it? You see, the entirety of A Story About My Uncle consists of gauntlets that require super jumps, grapple beams and/or rocket boosts. Needless to say, the game becomes repetitive before long. These functions would be fine as part of a lineup of special skills, but on their own they can't engagingly carry a whole campaign.

A Story About My Uncle (PC) image

Never mind that A Story About My Uncle lasts a mere four hours. In that time, you'll still grow tired of the routine: examine your surroundings, make a seemingly impossible leap, fire at an object, swing to another object, make your way to the next island.

Later stages also feature incredibly frustrating segments. During one, you must navigate a long chamber full of hovering blocks. That part isn't too tough because you can stand on the cubes, thereby replenishing your grappling beam. Sadly, after you've cleared this section, you then have to make your way back across the chasm, only this time there are bricks plummeting from the ceiling at arbitrary points and at varying speeds. You might be able to land on one, but you'll sink along with it, especially if you end up grasping the side. In the time it takes you to pull yourself up and stand on top, you could be a goner. Worse than that, the scene's random generation sometimes spawns empty pockets where there are no descending cubes, leaving you to fall to your death. It took me an hour to get through this scene, and I was ready to give up long before that.

However, the part of me that digs trial and error-based titles told me to see this game through to its end. Admittedly, A Story About My Uncle sports some neat scenarios. For instance, there's one where you must travel along a narrow overhang by repeatedly snagging it with the beam and zapping recharge crystals as needed. You have to plan while you're moving, reminding yourself to shoot the ceiling twice, then blast a crystal with your third charge while making sure your beam nails just the right portion of the overhang. It wasn't easy, but I felt accomplished after completing this task (rather than irritated).

A Story About My Uncle (PC) image

Two stages attempt to break the repetition by featuring towns to visit. You can't communicate with anyone unless the story demands it, though, and that's a bummer. Instead, you end up wandering through the burgs while frog people stare at you. Sure, there are plenty of awesome, creative sights to take in, but these stages were more of an interruption than a genuine break from incessantly grappling things.

Variety would have saved this cute little title. I would've loved to see more than a couple of special abilities and situations that required more than jumping and firing a beam. I get it, though. The game draws some of its inspiration from Portal, which also showcased a single skill. However, Portal's central mechanism was one that isn't often seen in video games, so it was refreshing to play a title that explored a seldom-used concept. A Story About My Uncle hedges its bet on a technique that nearly every action-adventure title since the early '90s has showcased, though. Call me crazy, but I don't think there's much of a market for The Legend of Zelda: Four Hours of Just the Hook Shot.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (July 04, 2017)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Nightfire posted July 05, 2017:

Scathing, and a nice article overall.

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