Screenshot: Stories Untold/No Code

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Stories Untold

I’m still operating in “power through as many 2017 games as you can before Best Of The Year festivities begin” mode, which means finally going in and cleaning out the backlog of short, sweet Steam games I built up over the last year. One I’ve been especially intrigued by was Stories Untold, an adventure game compilation with a fetish for ’80s aesthetics and technology that rivals even the mighty Stranger Things. Beyond that look and feel, though, it’s something much more innovative: a subversive use of well worn adventure-game tropes that takes simple puzzles and text-adventure inputs and turns them on their heads with creepy new contexts.

I’ve only played through two of the game’s four stories. The first you’re thrown into is “The House Abandon,” which the developers at No Code had thrown together for the Ludum Dare game jam in 2016 and eventually polished up into a free release that still acts as Stories Untold’s eerie and encouraging demo. The less said about the story the better, but it comes together as a proof of concept and statement of intent for the rest of the game, showing off its fascination with an ancient, beloved genre and the clever ways No Code is willing to mess with it. Given the jump in complexity between “The House Abandon” and the game’s second episode, “The Lab Conduct,” it seems this is just a taste of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to getting through these final chilling stories, but it’ll be tough to top the simplicity and effectiveness of that opening salvo.