Stories Untold is a multi-genre horror game created by developer No Code. The game features four different episodes, each one with a different story and twist ending.
In the first episode, The House Abandon, the player is sat in a room playing a classic 80s text-based game, only to discover that the very house he is in is the house being explored by the protagonist.
In the second episode, The Lab Conduct, the player is working as a volunteer in a laboratory regarding a top-secret experiment that leads to his mind melding with that of a powerful alien and, through the alien's coercion, killing all of the employees in the building.
In the third, The Station Process, the player is working at a remote Arctic station, in which he must process radar signals and combat an antagonistic "thing" that is attacking him and his coworkers.
In the fourth and final episode, The Last Session, the connection between all the previous stories is revealed...
The game is available for purchase on Steam here.
Stories Untold contains examples of:
- Abandoned Hospital: A portion of "The Last Session" takes place in one - it's the hospital where James has been lying comatose for two weeks.
- Adventures in Comaland: "The Last Session" reveals that at least one of the previous 3 episodes were set while James was in a coma.
- Always Save the Girl: Painfully averted in "The Last Session". James deliberately leaves his sister to die so he can't be incriminated for the accident.
- And You Were There: The other voices that can be heard within the first three games are those of James's doctor, Mr. Alexander, his little sister Jennifer, and a police officer that arrived at the scene of the car accident.
- Arc Number: 1986. It's the year of James's accident.
- Arc Words: Every chapter has at least one example, and the meaning of each one is revealed in the final chapter.
- "The House Abandon" has "I'm sorry, I don't understand." and "It was all my/your fault." The former is what James' mother said upon finding out that his sister had died in the crash, and James' sessions with Dr. Alexander are helping him to realize the latter.
- "The Lab Conduct" has "You need to get out of here." James escaped from a car wreck that put him in a coma.
- "The Station Process" has "What is happening?" Dr. Alexander is trying to get James to tell him what happened in the crash.
- Awful Truth: James killed a man in a drunk driving accident, and then left his little sister to die and made it look like the other man was the drunk driver so he wouldn't go to jail. The guilt of this causes him to dream up the events of the first three games.
- Big Fancy House: The titular "House Abandon" starts off this way, with the Interactive Fiction game outright stating what a large and grand house it is. That is, until things begin to go awry...
- Bookends: The first thing you see when starting "The House Abandon" is the intro animation with credits. It's also the last thing you see in "The Last Session".
- Brand X:
- But Thou Must!: In "The Last Session", James can keep trying to change the outcome, but since it already happened, it just amounts to trying to avoid facing what he did. This even extends to how Jennifer keeps failing to notice that James was drunk; she didn't IRL, and we know he's an Unreliable Narrator.
- Crapsaccharine World: "The House Abandon" starts off pleasant and inoffensive. When you put the game tape into your computer, everything goes to hell.
- Creator Cameo: "The House Abandon" game was made by No Code, and their logo can be seen on some of the various gadgets in each chapter.
- Cypher Language: The alien symbols at the end of The Lab Conduct are in a font based on the Prawn language from District 9.
- Dead Person Conversation: All conversations with the girl at NS-2 from "The Station Process" - that girl is actually James's deceased younger sister, Jennifer.
- Easter Egg: Some radio stations in The Station Process contain public emergency broadcasts and music channels.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Jennifer clearly loved James, supported him, trusted him. And when they crashed, he prefered hiding his whiskey bottle in a dead innocent mans car over pulling her out of the poisonous fumes and giving her first aid.Station 2: I can't feel my legs... James? What are you doing?
- Everyone Knows Morse: In "The Station Process," a message is sent to NS-3 only in Morse. Luckily, the player's microfilm contains instructions on how to decode it.
- Featureless Protagonist: The only information given about the player character is his name, James Aition.
- The first two episodes prominently feature coffee cups, and the third mentions a delivery of "supplies", presumably including food and drink. The whole game is the aftermath of a DUI.
- The player can find photographs of a forest road at night in the sister's closet with the mention that they seem familiar. Returning to the weather station in "The Last Session" shows the accident report with mention of how the car accident had happened on "Pleasant Hill Forest Road".
- In "The Lab Conduct", the flashes shown by the entity are from a burst metal, a silhouette in front of bright lights and a woman with a black background. Aka, the broken car, the officer that finds James and his sister in a body bag. The photo of Jennifer during the flashes is even the same that appears during "The Last Session".
- During "The Station Process", the acronym "GCS" keeps coming up, with the meaning blacked out. It stands for "Glasgow Coma Scale", a way of measuring the consciousness of a patient. James overheard or saw his own assessment at some point. The first page of the microfilm has four words, whose first letters spell "COMA".
- in the same episode, you are decoding what at first appears to be emergency broadcast signals. But as you progress, your monitor starts showing commands like 'scorched earth scenario' and 'launch successful', as areas on your global map all become engulfed, save for your location, representing James' mind struggling to regain cognition as reality is slowly shutting down around him. As he presses onward, things start to not add up, as two previously unseen and unacknowledged operators suddenly begin chiming in, and before you have to fix the generator outside, the 2nd operator suddenly calls you 'James'. This moment also represents when he's finally starting to remember what really happened: at first, Jen - a.k.a. operator 2 - tells him that he has to leave the container to fix a problem, i.e. breaking out of the car wreckage to dispose of his whiskey. At this moment, he seems to be convincing himself that this is what Jen would have wanted. On his way back, however, she disconcertingly asks where he's going, telling him that she can't feel her legs.
- Genre Shift: Between each episode. "The House Abandon" is an atmospheric Interactive Fiction game, "The Lab Conduct" is more similar to a puzzle-horror game, "The Station Process" is closer to a traditional adventure horror game, and "The Last Session" is a combination of all three.
- It's All About Me: What James Aition's actions right after the car crash ultimately amount to, letting his sister die so she won't tell the cops and pinning all the evidence on the driver that collided with him so that he could get away with driving under the influence.
- It's All My Fault: For a while, James couldn't even accept responsibility for his actions, however, the guilt of what he did eventually drives him insane to the point that he is committed to an asylum and eventually admits what he did. The therapist even points out that the police may not take him anywhere because he'll probably be there for quite some time.
- Meaningful Background Event: In "The House Abandon", everything that happens in the Interactive Fiction game affects the player's surroundings and the very room that you're in.
- Meaningful Echo: The game is full of them in a brilliant way. Half the things said suddenly gain meaning in "The Last Session". "The House Abandon" alone has plenty, but the most outstanding are "I'm sorry I don't understand", "It was all my/your fault", "Say it" and "Make it stop".
- Meaningful Name: The title, "Stories Untold," because James never told anyone what he had done.
- Minimalist Cast: The game only consists of three major characters - James, his sister Jennifer, and his doctor Mr. Alexander.
- Murder by Inaction: After drunkenly crashing his car and causing Jennifer to become severely injured, James leaves her to die in favor of framing the other driver as the drunk.
- Mysterious Past: Invoked in "The House Abandon", where the player hints at some Noodle Incident involving his sister Jennifer but does not go into detail. This is changed in "The Last Session", where this incident is elaborated upon.
- Numbers Station: The Station Process involves tuning into number stations, and decoding them to transmit computer code back out for reasons unknown. Things get weirder down the line.
- Parental Abandonment: This seems to have happened to James following the accident, if his mother's conversation with the doctor and the plot of "The House Abandon" are anything to go off.
- Recursive Canon: The game is made to resemble an 80's style TV show from the beginning. It turns out in "The Last Session" that it actually is a TV show, on a VHS that James had been watching many times in the hospital.
- Red Herring: The Hive Mind aliens introduced in The Lab Conduct that possibly take over the world in The Station Process are just a distraction and have nothing to do with The Reveal.
- The Reveal: James was in a coma for two weeks, caused by a car accident. All the previous games were dreams he had while comatose that were related to the truth of his car accident - he drunkenly killed another driver, planted the whiskey in his car to make it look like the other driver was the drunk one, and left his sister to die in the process.
- Rewatch Bonus:
- After "The Last Session", you can play through again looking for Foreshadowing. For example, in "The House Abandon", the second go-round of the in-universe game starts with James getting out of a "warped" car. Like it's been in a car accident.
- The end credits for the first three episodes list James Aition and Peter Hennings as "Drivers", Daniel Alexander as "First Aid" and Ty Williams as "Security"
- Rouge Angles of Satin: Employed deliberately, thus seeming to be present in the text adventure portions of the game, which is quite jarring in a game of generally high quality of writing. Notably, the amount of mistakes is inconsistent, with the second half of The House Abandon (which starts out just fine quality-of-writing-wise) and the text adventure portions of The Last Session being the worst offenders, although some parts of The Lab Conduct also exhibit this. After the first playthrough, it becomes obvious that the increasing amount of "mistakes" is deliberate, reflecting James' unstable mental state and possible damage to his cranium, as his mind simultaneously works toward and shies away from regaining the memory of -or rather, confronting/accepting the truth about- the events of the crash.
- Self-Deprecation: Examining the VHS case of "Stories Untold" in the fourth section results in:"The only video they have. Some horror compilation. Trash."
- Shout-Out: The entirety of "The Station Process" references the film The Thing (1982), incorporating its subarctic setting and the lurking horror of the unseen monster stalking James.
- The Unreveal: In "The Station Process", the character never sees the thing that dragged James out of his building.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Midway through the fourth chapter, The Lab Conduct's reprise ends with the drill closing in on James' head, while he's awake. One of his eyes shown on a monitor shuts just before it makes contact.
- Wham Shot: In "The Station Process", when the player gets to station W4 and opens the door to find the room from "The House Abandon."
- World of Symbolism: All of the games function in this way, and each of them are Justified In-Universe by Dr. Alexander's attempts to use them to help James remember and reconcile the events of the car accident. In particular:
- "The House Abandon" focuses mainly on analyzing his relationship with his family before and after the accident, as the house - functioning as a representation of their familial bond - is beautiful and grand before the accident, but crumbles to ruins after.
- "The Lab Conduct" represents James's efforts to absolve himself of his guilt. The game, by ending with the alien conquering his mind and forcing him to kill all of the scientists, serves as a sort of mental scapegoat which he can blame for the accident, and in doing so, remove the blame from himself.
- "The Station Process" continues a similar idea by having James literally isolate himself from the world, and remove himself from any consequences in the process. The game also serves as a turning point in the story, when it's made obvious that this won't work - the unseen monster, representative of his guilt, tracks him down and overpowers him, and he can't stop hearing his sister's voice, reminding him what he did and the decision he made. The fact that this game ends with James returning to the room in "The House Abandon" makes it clear - he can never run far enough to escape his own sins.
- Finally, "The Last Session" ties the symbolism together by quite literally merging them - all three games become melded into an amalgamate of James's guilt, fear, and sorrow, and by taking place in the hospital itself, the game is able to show James's slow acceptance of what he has done and his need for penance.
- You Can't Get Ye Flask: A common feature in "The House Abandon," as only very specific phrases will advance the story, and the player can find themselves stuck for quite a while if they can't think of the proper phrasing. Justified in that the text prompts are very particular by design, as they are based off of classic Interactive Fiction games.