A Story About My Uncle – Steam Backlog Bonanza [Blaugust 16]

933 words.

The big wheel of life turned and landed on a game from my Steam backlog called A Story About My Uncle*. I got it in a 2016 sale for $2 and tried it for the first time yesterday. (It turns out that 2016 was the final year that I indiscriminately bought games on Steam.)

  • It’s getting really hard to think of a different opening sentence and paragraph for each one of these things.

I had high hopes for this game, because I had vague memories of hearing that it was one of those really fantastic story games along the lines of Gone Home. It turned out that my memory must be flawed, because it wasn’t anything like that.

It’s basically a puzzle game. It’s a jumping puzzle game.

If I had known that, I probably wouldn’t have bought it regardless of the price. I’m not a huge fan of jumping puzzles just for the sake of jumping puzzles. I don’t mind them when I have to get to an objective, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing them.

Lots of floating islands to traverse.

It starts out as a walking simulator, a lot like What Remains of Edith Finch, actually. Until you find the “Adventure Suit” and transport to … wherever it is. Some world with low gravity and a lot of floating little rocks and islands hovering over an underground ocean or something. Then you have to jump from place to place, learning to use such things as super jumps and grappling hooks. There’s no real explanation given of why you’re doing it, except that you’re playing a child and presumably children would think it’s fun to jump around between rocks.

The graphics are fine. I found the sound effects a bit lacking. Meaning that I thought there were things that should have more sound effects, but they were silent. I don’t even remember the music, if there was any, so it must have been quiet and unobtrusive.

"Grappling" which is actually more of a magnetic attraction.

It might have been fun for me if the jumping and flying and physics were simply the mechanism to achieve some other game objective, but in this case it was the game objective. At least on the first “level.” I had some hope that the first level was just a tutorial and the second level would have more meat, but it started out as just another jumping puzzle so I left after about 45 minutes.

There was some interesting dialog in the background (a voiceover is telling a bedtime story to a child, Princess Bride-style) but it was far too infrequent to distract from the core gameplay.

Oh one last thing I’ll mention: I had some difficulty coordinating all the button presses you had to combine to achieve the flying and jumping. I fell to my death multiple times because I didn’t let go of a button at the right time. I started trying to use the mouse and keyboard, but switched to the controller because it was slightly easier to operate. I suppose if I kept at it, the controls would become more intuitive, but they were awkward at the beginning.

Will I play more? Nope. It gets an uninstall, just like most of the others. I suppose it’s probably a great game if you like jumping puzzles, but I’m not such an aficionado.

Live Stream - A Story About My Uncle

Stream Production Notes: A thunderstorm nearly caused me to cancel my daily 4 pm play session. I was secretly hoping it would, as I haven’t found very many great games in my Steam backlog thusfar, and this daily Backlog Bonanza is a bit of a chore right now. I’m completing them purely out of habit right now, not any real sense of enjoyment.

But the storm moved away right before 4 pm so I turned on the PC and jumped right into it without any prepared notes or warmups whatsoever. I didn’t even play my customary introduction music because I left my phone in the living room.

As it turns out, it was a mistake to start so abruptly. For some reason I don’t fully understand, when I turn my PC on from a cold, dead state, I have trouble with default audio sample rates. I normally reboot at least once before recording. I didn’t do that this time.

I didn’t think about it until I stopped the stream and heard my desktop “beep” sound playing at a higher pitch than usual. Sure enough, I just checked the stream and all of the audio is the wrong sample rate, so me and the game are slightly lower pitched than normal and broken up in places. (I think all the audio devices were playing at 48Khz but OBS recorded it at 44.1Khz, for the technically curious.) It sounds like I have a really bad cold.

I’ve noticed that I kind of blank out and enter a weird trance during the game recording time. It’s kind of an enjoyable experience, like an odd sort of performance art. On most days, I don’t actually say a single word out loud during the day before the stream starts, or any time after the stream ends. I have no real concept of what I’ve said after I stop the recording, either. Still, when I go to write these posts, which is usually after dark, hours after I’ve played the game and forgotten about it, I’ll remember little snippets of what I said that jog my memory enough to capture the gist of what I thought about the game.

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