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Gameverse | September 27, 2020

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Bedtime Stories Take Flight in A Story About My Uncle

Bedtime stories are adventures of wonder, beauty, and that hint of fear told to children to inspire them. Gone North Game’s A Story About My Uncle takes this concept and creates a world full of mystery and breathtaking moments, interweaving the narrative with the environment. The game follows the narrator in his quest to find his adventuring inventor uncle lost in a new world with only his wits and his uncle’s unique devices. The attention to detail with the narration and environment comes together to tell this game’s story. In the first minutes of the game, there are papers thrown about the uncle’s lab. A closer inspection of these pages only adds to the bedtime story theme: there are scripts of the narration and references to other children’s stories everywhere. There are also hints to the uncle’s latest invention, a trash disposal system. This same disposal system literally launches the narrator into this new world after he puts on one of his uncle’s adventure suits.

Movement is the main mechanic behind this game, and often the path involves soaring through open air or navigating through bottomless corridors with a grappling beam. There is a fair amount of speed that comes from the movement, which only adds to the fun and flavor of the game. However, some of the movements can be tricky to perform, or speed can become an issue and make it difficult to complete a section of the game. There is nothing quite like flying through the air, though, and landing with a literal ground cracking thud.

The design of the levels is impressive. A game with movement mechanics has to take into account how all the elements work together. The different routes that are available all lead to the next location and provide the ability to create your own impromptu paths. As the game goes on the reactions and grapple placement becomes less forgiving. There were always options and ways to react to poor decisions, and even if one of those options is missed, death is not punishing. Checkpoints are frequent, often after a new challenge was presented and conquered, and this gives a certain freedom in the sense that death is not a huge setback. These checkpoints are also the save points for the game, so the game is easy to pick back up right away.

Each level has an atmosphere to itself. The foreboding, dark caves feel different from light and airy ice caves. In addition to the unique atmosphere, each level has characteristic challenges and attributes to them. Take one of the early challenges in the game: there are hints and cautions towards this challenge, but still, that does not lessen the impact of spotting the large-eyed worm, a creature straight out of a nightmare that guards a pitch-black home.

The music to the game is beautiful and serene. It keeps the atmosphere and pace of the levels in mind, although it is a quiet music. The music itself seems to get louder towards the later parts of the game, but it still stays mostly calm. The environment is quite something to see as well. Floating rocks take up most of the environments, but the rocks are often covered in plant life that is vibrant and makes the world come alive: some plants even generate light when hit with the grapple beam. However, there are some models that are rough and in some areas the fire that is used is choppy.

The game is kind of short, but that fits well with the bedtime story theme of the game. Besides, there is plenty to do once the game is beaten. Aside from collectible rewards in game, there is a time trial mode that unlocks when the game is beaten. Since the game is through Steam, there are plenty of achievements to try and get, although some of them can be a challenge.

This is part of the bedtime story theme of this game: even though there is a near constant chance of a fatal plummet, the game has a relaxed air about it. All the care put into crafting the story and the environment really shines through, even when soaring through open air to get to the next part. The narration that accompanies the gameplay often helps explain certain challenges or obstacles while adding the reminder that this experience could be nothing more than a bedtime story.