The Story Goes On
This is a simple, yet enjoyable experience. It is a nice take on the hack-n-slash/dungeon-crawler genre, without being over-complicated and ‘grindy’.
The game starts out with a short tutorial run, giving you an opportunity to get a feel for the controls whilst introducing you to your first playable character (more are unlocked as you progress) – and your pun-loving scarecrow sidekick.
Initially, you start off in a void of sorts. You meet the scarecrow and are forced to retreat from a horde of monsters – this is where you learn your movement controls. You run through the darkness into a clearing of green grass and trees before being told to “Jump down that hole”. If you’re anything like me, you will completely miss the hole and end up dying before the game has even began – but this is OK as our scarecrow sidekick just loves to make jokes at everyone’s expense.
I play a lot of games, so it is no surprise that I am familiar with lots of different genres’ basic controls – jack of all trades, master of none style. I was already playing around with the buttons before even getting past this movement tutorial; upon discovering the dash ability I was prompted by our sidekick that I should really wait until being taught the techniques before utilising them.
So we get past the movement tutorial and into our first run of the top-down, dungeon crawling slash ’em up. The first run is made simplistic enough to come to terms with the combat mechanics, the loot drops and some of the enemies – whilst still allowing room to experiment with the controls.
The layout is introduced with this first run, a simple square-by-square map, where you explore each room/area looking for a way to open the boss-door. A simple concept made interesting by the puzzles you can encounter as well as the loot you can find. This first run, however, differs slightly to the actual playthroughs you will complete after the ‘tutorial’ run through.
Once getting to the end of the map to the boss-door, assuming you have found the item required to open the door, it will open revealing a hole in the floor – you’ve guessed it, drop down and face the almighty tutorial boss!
OK, so the first boss isn’t that mighty – and is actually quite a pushover – as we are told. I don’t think it can even hurt you; but, that’s not the point. We are badass enough to defeat the first boss without dying – giving us a sense of accomplishment before venturing forth into the randomly generated dungeons coming up! Of course, our puntastic sidekick had much to say about our first boss encounter – but don’t take his words to heart, I am sure he means well.
Now the tutorial is over, the game can truly begin to shine. The dungeons you explore are randomly-generated which gives us a sense of needing to explore to truly get a feel for each run of the game. You never know if there is something you need hiding in one of the unexplored areas.
There are also multiple different environments which we explore through our adventure; varying from desert to snow and from caves to woods. The change of environment comes with a change of enemy too – for example, fighting snowmen and penguins in the snow or spiders and creepy-crawlies in caves. The variation is key in a dungeon-crawler, otherwise the player doesn’t recognise their progression and instead of a game it turns into a grind. Luckily, The Story Goes On knew what it was setting out to accomplish and kept things fresh enough for us to enjoy the playthrough’s – despite the concept of entering a room, discarding enemies, looting and repeating for the next room remaining the same throughout the game.
As well as this basic concept, the game threw in additional puzzles to solve too. Below is a picture of a fishpond in the snow environment. Instantly you will recognise that it is in the shape of Ying-Yang – so it seemed logical to me to ensure the fish were in there respective ponds. Once they were the screen changed to black-and-white. At first, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I journeyed forth through the rooms with this new graphic-style – still wondering what this change had actually done. It was a pleasant surprise to find that this visual change had opened a secret area for me to explore. This secret area was key to progressing further into the story!
I won’t spoil anything by going into detail, but these secret dungeons are not randomly generated, and are the main story-line that we must complete in each of the different environments to progress to the end of the game. Each environment has its own unique ways/puzzles of opening the secret area’s – and I will leave them for you to figure out!
In addition to changing environments and secret dungeons, there is a variation of bosses too which fit well with the environments they are found in. There is a snowman for the snow environment, a witch for the creepy woods environment, a ghost in the haunted environment and if you search enough you will even stumble across the Devil himself along the way.
As you can see, the witty comments from the author were everywhere – and this was nice, to begin with. After a while though I found myself getting bored of the constant puns and started skipping over them. I am a fan of puns but too many of them can be a bit over the top. It’s not a game-killer by any means – but a little more substance to the dialogue would not have gone a miss.
The gameplay itself did make up for the tiresome puns though – and I found myself losing multiple hours at a time with this game. The inclusion of perma-death meant I was careful when approaching attacking situations, and analysed each boss fight to figure out the correct tactic to beat each one.
Graphically there’s not much to say. It is a top-down dungeon crawler. The variation in backdrop is refreshing, but there isn’t much that can be done with this style of game. The colours are vivid, the trees and other objects dotted around the maps are present, but not too much so to become cumbersome. It is a well-designed game and is pleasing to the eye – I actually really like the cartoon style characters and environments!
The soundtrack is fitting, the music changing with the pace of battle or environment you are in. It fits in well, and helps the overall atmosphere of the game – which is great considering there are many games which fall short when it comes to adding fitting music to their gameplay.
All-in-all The Story Goes On is a solid game. What it does, it does well. The visuals are pleasing and varying enough not to get boring. Boss fights require strategy and perma-death means that you take caution whilst battling through the dungeons. However, the puns and witty comments get tiresome and boring – not giving enough depth to the game to keep me wanting to read through them all the time. The audio is fitting and mixes with the environments and battles well.
I would recommend this game to any fan of the genre – and even to those who are new to the genre to an extent; as it is a gentle welcome to the dungeon-crawler/hack’n’slash genre for those not previously accustomed to it. The randomly generated dungeons add a sense of exploration to the title and with so many items to pick-up, you will find yourself fully searching every room in each dungeon – some items being more important for progression than others. Overall, a solid title for most ages and a good way to kill a few hours. 7/10