A Story About My Uncle starts off with a black screen, with just a voice over. At first, I thought that maybe there was something wrong with the video, until I realized that what I was hearing was a bedtime story between a father and daughter. The dad draws the daughter into the titular story about his uncle, an adventure that starts one day when he goes to his house to see if he’s home and ends when he is transported to a fantastical land of floating islands which he learns to navigate using a special suit and an energy based grappling hook.
From that point, you are in control as you zoom through the air from point to point using your grappling hook to pull you through the huge open areas. I’ll be honest, the first thing I thought when I finally got the hang of movement in the game was that I couldn’t imagine how amazing it would be in VR, followed by the realization that it was pretty amazing on a monitor. I’m not sure I’ve ever played another game that has the same sense of pace, speed and momentum that A Story About My Uncle does. When you finally get a real feeling for how to chain hooks together and use your character’s momentum to thrust them towards the next floating island, the feeling of freedom is incredible.
That being said, this aspect of the gameplay is far from perfect. There were quite a few sections that required me to try multiple times because I just couldn’t get my grappling hook to grab hold of the next point, or because I couldn’t quite figure out how to use my momentum to fling my character in the correct direction. These sections were made extra frustrating because I knew how smooth and carefree movement could be if I could just figure out how to make everything come together. I very purposefully played a second half hour of the game because I wanted to make sure that these issues didn’t get in the way of enjoying the game, but overall they faded into mere blips in the overall fun gameplay.
In an interesting decision by the developers, the game is also completely non-violent (unless you count your character plunging to his death over and over again I suppose.) It really is an adventure story fit to be told as a bedtime story between a dad and his young daughter. As you get further into the game, you meet a salamander-like race of creatures that your uncle has lived among for years. He’s helped them build homes from his discarded trash and they are willing to help you find him since he appears to be missing. It’s a story that the game probably needed, if only as something to mix up the free-flying gameplay.
Unfortunately, the NPC salamanders pulled me pretty far out of the game due to their modeling and animation, not to mention their complete lack of interaction. It’s not a deal breaker, but when everything else looks gorgeous and full of motion, salamander creatures that wobble about a bit really stick out. Luckily, these creatures are only central to the storyline, not the actual gameplay as far as I can tell, so to some degree you can just ignore them and move on to the next island you are flinging yourself towards.
Ultimately, A Story About My Uncle is a fairly unique game that begs to be played just because it exists. That may sound strange, but once you experience what if feels like to fling your body huge distances across beautiful underground caverns, I think you’ll be hooked. I also think the game deserves a lot of credit for coming up with a story that didn’t just add a bunch of guns to a game with a cool grappling hook and taking the easy way out.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: BUY
Reviewed On: Steam
Time Played: 60 minutes
Developer: Gone North Games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Review Copy: No
Our “30 Minutes of” Reviews are essentially us going one step further than judging a game by its cover. They aren’t comprehensive, but they should give you a pretty good idea if a game is good or not. Games are rated on a “Buy, Don’t Buy or Buy on Sale” scale that hopefully will give you some insight and 30 minutes of video gameplay to help you in your buying decisions.