There are many games in which you are given the opportunity to create your own narrative, maximising your imagination in order to turn the experience your way. The same goes for The Story Goes On, but this time round you are not just creating your own adventure – you’re helping a crazed author finish his story too. If you don’t then it will be discarded forever and the world will never find out what a great hero you can be.
As far as storytelling goes, and for a game that plays on the story theme, that is about it for The Story Goes On. The gameplay itself stands high above having to worry about why or when you go about doing something.
See, at the end of the day, The Story Goes On is a simple hack ‘n’ slasher that delivers a ton of permadeath, even more random world generation and the collection of a decent amount of loot. With it all being overseen by the ‘story’, and a humorous scarecrow who likes to sell you things, it does become fairly addictive.
In fact, from the get go it becomes very addictive and thanks to some teasingly placed Achievements, The Story Goes On will no doubt see you heading back in to experience its randomness time and time again. But a few hours in and you’ll probably be left wondering why on earth you are bothering with it all. And that’s even with the option of playing through with a local friends alongside you.
You initially play as Aiden, one of a few characters who have been placed into the game with the express intention of helping out this author finish his book. Equipped with a single sword, and a hookshot that is mostly used for quicker traversal, you’ll need to head into the randomly generated single screens ahead, killing off all enemies, before trudging forward to the next. Picking up loot and special items that increase or decrease your damage options, attack speed, movement ease, dashing capabilities and overall range is pretty much par for the course, with a great deal of the rooms you stumble through holding treasure and chests galore.
Without this treasure, and without the addition of numerous items that see the gameplay change ever so slightly, The Story Goes On would fall at the very first page. But the humour that has been injected into these is high, and the likes of a croc mask that ups your defense, a sword and bomb combo that sees enemies explode on death, or Mother Pec’r allowing for a woodpecker to help attack your foes are all good ones. With 50 odd items available to be found, your gameplay options with each runthrough can ultimately be different each and every time.
Your main goal is to open up all routes of each world, by killing every enemy, before grabbing the key to the boss’ lair and dispatching him with a swift swipe of your sword.
It’s fairly simple to hunt down each boss too, as the standard enemy types present throughout are rather pathetic in intelligence. You’ll find blobs which separate into smaller entities, sword wielding mutants, fast moving penguins, and simple snakes in amongst the bad guys, but none are what I’d call ‘clever’, instead sitting back and just waiting to be despatched. It is not until you find yourself heading deep into some of the latter stages – and some of the cleverly introduced dungeon changing moments – that you will start to find anything that is more than a test of your basic sword swiping abilities. And by that point you would no doubt have picked up enough skill and attribute points to be able to move through the masses with ease.
Even when you get to the random boss lairs things still don’t get too tricky. With more than 20 well designed bosses available, you may think that learning patterns of attack and wotnot should be the name of the game. But it isn’t, and that is because each can be defeated in a cinch, giving very little enthusiasm for anyone to continue battling through the random nature. Sat here now, having pumped in many an hour, I’ve stumbled upon thousands of enemies, picked up tens of thousands in cash to spend with my scarecrow shopkeeper and very nearly grabbed every single item available. I’ve also taken on the same old bosses time and time again, just missing out on the opportunity to witness each and every one due to luck alone. The first time you’ll take on each boss, you’ll enjoy it. And quite possibly the second. But the third, the fourth, the tenth? With just a bit of coinage sent your way for sending them off to an early grave, and then that coinage magically being removed when the game decides you’ve played enough of a world and you need to head off to the next, the enthusiasm levels dip tremendously.
However with all that said, the knowledge that the next room may just contain that missing item, or a super powerful burst of attacking and movement speed to make your life even easier, ensures that The Story Goes On is very difficult to put down. It’s one of those games that, even though it can get stale as you battle the randomness, constantly sees the minutes turn to hours. Even if you don’t want them to.
There is also the draw of multiple heroes to play as, and further worlds are there should you wish to consistently draw on your luck, but the latter of these are more a hindrance than anything else. The problem is, just as you get into your stride, seeing your character turn into a full on hacking force, you’ll need to switch worlds, which removes the majority of your items, and even more of your precious coins. Unnecessary? Probably. Annoying? Most definitely.
Other than falling back on luck to help you get through The Story Goes On, what else is there to keep you entertained? Well, the visuals are lovely, with each world coming across with a brilliant storybook feel. Some stages are a bit too dark for my liking, and it’s occasionally tricky to find the desired exit, but thankfully the stunningly drawn map, something which is taken for granted in many a game, has also been treated to a rather gorgeous art style, popping up easily when you find yourself lost. The soundtrack that accompanies all this is quite frankly brilliant too, ramping up to push you through the monotony of constant hacking and slashing whenever it is needed.
This has left The Story Goes On to be something of an enigma. What is there to keep anyone who has spent hours on end from continuing their adventures, when they know that every now and then everything they have worked towards could be wiped out at the move to a new world? I’m not sure to be honest, and even though I’ve enjoyed my time with the game, I’m now at a point in which I’m probably done for good, mainly due to the fact that I care little for wasting my time ‘hoping’ that something good will appear.
Seeing past that though, and it is most certainly an addictive little well paced game – but only really for those who wish to go cheevo hunting in the process. If you’re not interested in those, and couldn’t care less for Gamerscore, then the random world generation, random loot placement, random boss fights and random item pickups could quite possibly see you failing to see this story through to the end.