You Can't Grab Ye ZX Spectrum: Let's Play Stories Untold!

Q & A Session

So what is Stories Untold?
Stories Untold is a horror game by No Code Studios, a Glaswegian company (yay Scotland!) that was recently adopted by Devolver Digital. The game describes itself as “a compilation tape of four experimental text adventures”, so the format of this series is going to be episodic in nature, I’m planning on a single video for each episode, though depending on how later chapters go they may require more than one video. We’ll see!

This game is based on No Code’s earlier indie title, The House Abandon (Play it for free here, if you’re brave and/or morbidly curious), and this game opens up with a remastered version of The House Abandon, which is significantly improved and addresses some of the original game’s text parser problems.

Text parser? So this is a text game Like Zork? That sounds boring and not fun to LP.
You might think a compilation of four text adventures might end up being like a Twine series or something, but Stories Untold is a lot more intense than that. Rather than just taking place as a full adventure game interpreter, the game’s four episodes take place in various 3D environments, starting with the first chapter, The House Abandon. You’re sat at a desk, with an old-school Sinclair ZX Sp-- -ahem- a Futuro 128k 2+ computer system, playing the titular game, The House Abandon. So far so good, this seems like a pretty novel environment for emulating the Interactive Fiction of old! Right? …Right. The subsequent chapters feature more interactive environments in addition to a text interface, too which only enhances the experience.

This game just came out. Are you going in blind?
Not entirely. I just got it, and I haven’t played the full way through yet, but I finished Chapters 1 and 2 already, and by the time I record subsequent chapters I will have played through the rest of the game, so don’t worry about me getting hung up or stuck on potentially obvious puzzles! Probably. I’ll probably still get spooked by parts of it, as you’ll see.

Spoiler Policy?
Blur or hide your spoilers, please! I haven’t played through this game fully yet, but also I want to make sure viewers can enjoy the experience without it being spoiled for them, too!

:tw:Trigger Warnings:tw:
This game relies on flashing lights and loud sounds. If you suffer from epilepsy, you may want to give this series a miss (Or at least just listen to the audio and my narration, I’ll try to be as descriptive as possible!) If you’re easily startled by loud noises, definitely turn the volume down.

Apart from that, what I’ve played of the game so far features some existential horror, some gory descriptions and a bit of visual gore in the second chapter, any other potential trigger warnings I’ll try to remember to include as each episode goes live or as I play through.

:spoiler: :tw: These next trigger warnings are for episode 4 and are therefore major spoilers, so I’ll blur them, and let you folks choose whether you want to view them or not.

Episode 4 contains a detailed description and reliving of a car accident, caused by drink driving (So alcohol is involved here as well), and there’s a hospital sequence where you are a patient being operated on. Nothing visually gory about it, but there’s some blood and some unpleasant noises.:tw: :spoiler:


Chapter 1: The House Abandon

Chapter 2: The Lab Conduct

Chapter 3: The Station Process

Chapter 4: The Last Session


> Reserve second post

You take the second post and put some placeholder text in there, to keep it warm for future use.

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The “look at” part of old text game parsers always goofs me up too, for basically the exact same reason. Does the code randomize each playthrough or is it always the same?

I liked the very subtle detail of the photographs’ eyes being crossed out right when the generator came back on, and then things kept escalating in every way. This was a great first impression, can’t wait to see where the other chapters go!

Episode 2 is up now! :smiley: In this one we perform science!

It’s always the same code. (This was actually a good thing for me, as I had to delete my save data after playing through the rest of the game, because of spoiler stuff, so I was able to blitz through The House Abandon pretty quickly!)

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Episodes 3 and 4 are now live! (Episode 3 was live yesterday but nobody else had responded to the thread and I didn’t want to flood it with my own posts - the How To Make an LP guide mentioned that it can be stifling to conversation - but it doesn’t look like editing my primary thread bumps it at all, so I was worried that nobody was catching the thread when it updated, haha).

For all intents and purposes this series is complete at this point, but I may make a followup video where I take a closer look at certain details in the game, or attempt to nab some of the achievements I’m missing which may lead to deeper secrets. I’m not 100% sure if I’ll go ahead with it but the thought is there. In the meantime, feel free to discuss this game, anything you noticed, what you liked about it, stuff like that!

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I’d be interested in hearing more about your observations; one thing I noticed myself was how the repeating number string was a time and date for when the accident happened (I think?) and I liked how it incorporated puzzles from the first three entries back into the final chapter. I’m not sure how I feel about the conceit of “all this horror content was actually a coma dream,” but at least Stories Untold seems set on littering clues and possibilities throughout the first three episodes and then spends an entire episode on connecting what all happened as opposed to someone raving about it on TV Tropes. This might simply be because I’m numb from seeing it in other media so much so I may not be giving it a fair shake?

Overall I really enjoyed this series, particularly the third chapter, which was absolutely the most tense of them for me. Thanks for introducing us to this!

I’ve really enjoyed this LP, for as short as it is. Besides the rare clicking outside of the window everything on a technical standpoint was on point. Having seen everything I can say that the first chapter is a bit of an outlier and mostly obviously remade work to fit into the larger narrative. But they really did tie everything together at the end rather well. [spoiler]I have to wonder if all the mental gymnastics and “Allocating Resource” bit from Chapter 3 is a bit of a metaphor for trying to keep all your wits and dexterity about you while under the influence. Seems a bit of a stretch but looking back there are all these nods to what get revealed at the end.

This is by no means any kind of a happy ending. Even the whole “at last you’ve come to terms with what was done and now you can at last start trying to find peace” cliche doesn’t fit here. Everyone knows what James has done, there is no hope for atoning for his sins and his remembering only brings him pain. His family won’t have anything to do with him, and from the sounds of things with how much he’s dependent on hospital care the authorities can’t even incarcerate him. He’s trapped in his own self made Hell, watching the same garbage in a hospital waiting room day after day all the while subjected to sessions where he is forced to relive what’s he done endlessly.

It’s hard to say if what they’ve shown us is even -his- coming to terms with what happened. Or if since he’s been out of a coma the police have been drip feeding him what they think happened, or worse what they -want- him to think happened. Some kind of cover up for the officer involved in the crash, to give the grieving families someone to hate? No matter how you slice it this was a pretty well written tragedy, if a bit purposefully lax on details. It’s a bit of a fresh spin on a visual novel in giving you the little point and click bits, and overall it nails a kind of aesthetic style that I’m really quite fond of.[/spoiler]

Thanks for taking the time to bring us on this journey, I swear this game would have flown right under my radar otherwise.

Sorry for the slow response here! I couldn’t really think of anything to add that hasn’t already been mentioned by you both! I might have a couple of things though: I’d also noticed a discrepancy in the plot which I might have an explanation for, I’m not sure.

[spoiler]One detail I unfortunately missed in the recorded playthrough which I’d caught in my pre-recording playthrough was the fact that while trudging through the snow moving between points, at some point you can catch a glimpse of two crashed cars out in the snow.

Regarding the mental gymnastics in Chapter 3, that part is a bit more straightforward - as mentioned in Chapter 4, the doctors mentioned how James’ patients tried to get him to do number puzzles among various other activities to get a response from him while he was still out cold.

So, regarding that discrepancy. We talked briefly about how 12-19-86-23 was a recurring number, and how it might relate to the day of the accident (Possibly the 23rd of December, 1986). However, going by what we learn in Episode 4, the text-adventure segment mentions that it’s New Year’s Eve, and since the accident occurs rather late at night, that places it on either 31st of December or the 1st of January the following year - Most likely January 1st, 1986 if we want to hold onfo the year as a recurring number.

Now, assuming that my original thought was that maybe the 23rd of December was the date that James woke up, but that’s in the bin because it’s mentioned that he was in a coma for two weeks, rather than the better part of a year.

Further complicating affairs is the Road Accident Report file shown in the Monitoring Station flashback in Chapter 4, which states that the accident happened on the 20th of March 1986. Said RTA file was also approved several months later, on the 14th of August 1986 (At least that’s what it looks like - 14/8/86). It should probably be noted that this is a flashback to one of James’ previous sessions, so it’s possible that these details aren’t 100% reliable.

Long story short, there’s a lot of potentially conflicting dates here and I’m reaching out to the dev in the hope of finding a few answers.[/spoiler]

Anyway, there’s my ramble. Thank you again for your kind comments on this series, I’m looking forward to doing more playthroughs like this one! I should probably see about getting this LP moved to the Completed list soon (But left open for further conversation, of course!)

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@moderators Hey there! This LP’s finished up, I’d like to move this over to the Completed LPs forum, but left open for further discussion regarding the story!