Ever wanted to play a first person spiderman game? ‘A story about my uncle’ is that, mixed with a bit of mirrors edge, and set in a bunch of caves.
Developer ‘Gone North Games’ clearly had a good idea in mind when designing ASAMU, a featured storyline, mixed with a power suit which can sprint and jump, paired with a grappling hook to allow you to swing from A to B, they even throw in a pair of rocket boots later on in the game, just to try and sweeten the deal.
This is the part where I would normally elaborate on the gameplay or what happens in the game, however ASAMU is simply about a guy trying to find his uncle, chasing him across the world (or rather, a series of caves) with his power suit and grapple. For a game where the primary mechanic is swinging around on stuff, the game is almost entirely linear, with one or two set correct paths to take – failure to use one of these two paths… well, there isnt any other paths to take – the world being a series of floating islands coupled with your grappling hook’s limited range means there is generally only one piece of environment close enough for you to grapple on to – Rinse repeat for around 90mins and that is pretty much the whole game.
This may be faster and easier to read if I just summarize things that are wrong with the game
1) One path / Boring level design
Is there something in range? That’s almost certainly the direction you are supposed to go.
2) Limited amount of grapples
You can only grapple 3 times before having to either land, or use a grapple on a power crystal to refuel, this is a worst of both worlds scenario, where you are either incredibly limited in the amount of times you can swing, or become forced to use only 2 swings and then scan the environment for a crystal to shoot at. It’s tedious and unnecessary considering there are no puzzles in the game where the grapple limit is properly forced.
3) Inconsistent surfaces
You can only grapple onto certain surfaces, the problem is these surfaces are in no way distinguishable from other surfaces. The earlier areas aren’t too bad, but in later levels sometimes you will go a few minutes before realising the ceiling can be grappled on to, other times you’ll try to hook onto a nearby rock only to be unable to for whatever reason. I can understand why for art reasons you wouldn’t want to make 2 very distinguishable surfaces for ‘sticky’ and not, but this inconsistency is incredibly frustrating and often leads into problem number 4.
4) No quick respawn / restart
Because the grapple sucks you towards the target rather than swing like a rope, you’ll often find yourself crashing into whatever it is you’re grappling to – an act which almost always results in death to chasm, a 3 to 6 second freefall into a bottomless pit before you can respawn and try again, this is of course not including the time it takes for you to lose any upwards momentum so you can fall. You will die a lot, sometimes to problem 2, often times to problem 3, and then occasionally just to bad level design or bad play. I am shocked to see no instant respawn button for times you know you are already dead.
5) No music?
If there was music, I didn’t notice much. Majority of the game was just the irritating noises coming from my grapple system
6) Pointless story
The story was bad, the side character only served to get in the players way and slow down progress, and the game ends quite abruptly and without a whole lot of resolution
7) Bad voice acting
Now we’re not talking house of the dead or resident evil levels of bad, but the voice acting was far from good.
8) Overly short length
I kept kind of waiting for the next area to make the game more interesting and fun, introduce more swinging and so on, and it just kind of never came. The game was over in less than 2 hours and all I had really done was swing around a bunch of cave systems.
Did I mention caves? There is 1 area out of the 5 that is outdoors, and it looks and feels amazing! Why then did they decide to have their protagonist spend the rest of the damn time in caves.
There is some joy to be found in ‘A story about my uncle’, however it isn’t worth the price tag. The key ideas have some great potential, but they are wasted on a series of caves connected by linear, equally spaced floating rocks.
Approximate Game Length : ~90 mins
Actual Worth / Online Price: £2 / £10 = 0.2
Should you play it : No