As a child, I used to like being read bedtime stories by my mother and grandma. They both knew a lot of stories, and had a fresh one on hand every time I asked. Now, I’m almost 30 years older and a dad too, so I’m the one reading the tales and telling stories to my two daughters. Even so, I still enjoy bedtimes tales a lot, even though I’m on the giving, not receiving end. So it was that I became immediately intrigued by A Story About My Uncle when I read about it for the first time some two or three weeks ago.
“A Story About My Uncle is a first person platforming adventure game about a boy who searches for his lost uncle, and ends up in a world he couldn’t imagine existed.” – promised the product description. Quite an invitation to play, wouldn’t you say? And it got me right there. I bought the game (with a nice discount), quickly downloaded it and started playing. Twenty minutes later I already knew it was going to be a very good game and one of those rare, unique, gaming experiences.
The Steam description I quoted there turned out to be spot on, as ASAMU is – at its core – indeed a first person platformer (FPP), about a little boy who embarks on a thrilling journey in search of his uncle. The uncle in question was a traveller and a handy inventor with a gift for making magical, gravity-defying devices. When the boy realizes his beloved uncle has gone missing, he unhesitatingly begins his own search, and having put on a mysterious outfit that looks like it was made especially for him, jumps into a parallel universe, where he thinks he might find his uncle again.
The boy quickly realizes he’s been transported to a magical world that’s totally different from ours, inhabited by strange humanoid creatures called the Stray. He quickly befriends one of the natives, a girl named Maddie. Together with his new friend, he continues the search for his uncle and learns about the many connections between the man and the mysterious world he’s travelling travel across.
Travel is the key word here, as ASAMU’s gameplay in this okay-looking FPP is largely about making your way through its levels using gravity, momentum and other physical phenomena to your advantage. The kid’s fancy suit and gloves let him jump really high, grapple and pull himself up onto various elements of the environment that allow it. The path to glory consists of various sizes and types of platforms and hanging rocks, between which the player must find a way to traverse.
In any game space, particularly ASAMU’s, proper, fluid movement involves good orientation with the player’s environment, as well as thinking and planning your next few moves ahead in advance. Then comes the actual timing of the jumps and grappling, using gravity to your advantage, in order to reach areas and platforms that appear unreachable. With so much of ASAMU’s core gameplay built around all of this, I’m glad to say that it all works really well, and is loads of fun with it. From the beginning, the game is almost instantly action-packed, even though the player is barely in danger most of the time (ASAMU is a violence-free title, which is something the devs can be proud of).