The screen showed only static for a few moments before flickering to life. Slowly, the image processed on the Futuro 128K and showed “The House Abandon” on the old CRT television screen. No, this isn’t real life. This is the introduction to the above-mentioned game, which is one of four available in Stories Untold.
The scene is set around an old desk, with a lamp and a few family pictures — I assumed were supposed to be family. A phone hangs on the wall just above the desk, corded and with a built-in answering machine. (Probably showing my age a little bit there…) There’s a clock on the television that reads 22:05, and connected to the television by a couple of wires is a computer in the style of a ZX Spectrum +2, called a Futuro 128k +2. I press the “A” button and the image switches to a main screen where green text fills the area.
Stories Untold is an episodic compilation of horror-themed puzzle games that initially launched on February 27, 2017 on Windows and MacOS, then followed on Nintendo Switch on January 16, 2020. The first chapter of which is called The House Abandon, and is themed like a classic text adventure with plenty of ambient sounds and music to accompany your stay in the 1980s setting.
Personally, I loved this from the second that the game booted up. I press “L” and get the action menu to pop up. From there, I’m able to select my actions, and the game inputs the commands into the on-screen computer like a word parser. Plenty of keyboard clicks and clacks later, and my action was completed and I had the new part of the story on screen.
Being that The House Abandon is mostly a text-based game, I initially thought that I might get bored or grow tired of the game itself. When I play text adventures it’s usually something in a high fantasy setting with plenty of swords and sorcery. However, the ambient sounds and music add so much to the setting that I found myself immersed in the game world. Exploring the actual house, I found that it was a very nice place. Well kept, neat and cleaned. Obviously a loving family lived here.
Then the power shut off…
As it slowly powered on, I found my setting had changed. What was once a neat and clean area now showed signs of corrosion and aging. It looked to me as if the room had seen years of thoughtless neglect. The House Abandon booted up again, and I was greeted by a more sinister title screen than last time. The game’s tone had shifted as well. When I first entered the house, there was nothing to be heard. Now I heard a door open and slam shut, followed by footsteps. As I played through, the story was darker and the house was in shambles. Areas falling apart, flickering lights, and an animal carcass nonchalantly butchered on the kitchen table. The alarm clock goes off at one point and gave me a bit of jump scare as I was immersed in exploring the now ruined rooms of the house. I decided to go upstairs once again, this time hearing the stairs creak, and then again — jump scare — as the phone starts to ring. I answered and heard creepy breathing sounds coming from the other end. I hung up. As the pacing increased toward the climax, I was amazed at how enthralled I became with the story. I was asking myself questions and wanting answers to things, all from simple cues given by the ambient sounds that begin after the power shuts off. It built up the pacing well enough that I found myself excited for the rest of the episodes.
Stories Untold is an excellent game for any Nintendo Switch library, especially for horror game lovers. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you give it a shot. Even if the first episode isn’t your favorite, I’m sure the following three will have something that you will enjoy. Each one is it’s own game, building on and adding to the story and gameplay. The second episode has the same gameplay as the first, but is more interactive and plays like a point and click game. This was probably my favorite, as it required you to think through your actions before making them.
If you’re a fan of horror games and would like to pick up Stories Untold for your Nintendo Switch or PC.