An Untitled Story

By: Derek Yu

On: August 27th, 2007

an untitled story

An Untitled Story is the long-awaited platform game by Game Maker developer YMM. It’s almost impossible not to compare this game to Knytt and Seiklus, since it shares a lot of visual, thematic, and gameplay ideas with those classic games. If you’re fans of either of those classics, you’ll probably appreciate this one.

One thing to consider, however, is that An Untitled Story puts a lot more emphasis on upgrading and hardcore platforming skills than those other games. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of exploring and finding fun little areas… but if precision jumping isn’t your bag, well, you ain’t gonna get too far in this game.

Overall, I like the graphics and the atmosphere and the challenging platforming bits. It can be really frustrating at times, but there’s a lot of content here, and it’s well worth the $1 (or more) donation to get in.

(Thanks, ChevyRay, for mentioning this game in the forums!)

  • Hugh Jass

    Looks like Mappy, doesn’t it?

  • Paulie Mindless

    Oh, this game is hard indeed. Managed to crawl through the tree and and was shot to death by some strange fire breathing thingamabobs.

  • Lim-Dul

    Challenge and “sometimes being frustrating” is one thing but poor game design is another.

    E.g. to get to one boss (a huge stone head – 60 damage when he hits you, 40 damage by some flying rocks, somehow if you hit him and jump on his head AGAIN you get damaged by him – I had 140 hp at that time) you have to get through one frustrating boost-jump sequence and two areas with flames (quite easy, but not trivial) that hit you for 40 or 60 hp. So if you die during the boss fight you have to get through the areas again – and probably get some hp. drained in the process… The next part is a free-fall sequence through some spikes (yep – NO regular ground at all) where you have to memorize each screen by heart ’cause you can’t make a SINGLE mistake.
    Sorry, but that didn’t make me want to donate even the single dollar it takes to get the full version…

  • Krishh

    Aww, I was really looking forward to this back when the demo came out, always liked the Helix Games platformers. I don’t even really see the point of it not being free, since the price is so negligible it seems to only serve the purpose of keeping out people who don’t have Paypal accounts.

  • HandCraftedRadio

    It was pretty fun, but hard to play through with the music on. It kind of sounded like my midi player was broken. Either that or the composer just picked random notes.

  • Nikica

    Oh it was on Soldat Movies when it was not released, but i guess i wait till the final version is out !!!

  • YMM

    Thanks for the review, Derek!

    Lim-Dul, I’m not saying my game is perfect or anything, but if you’re stuck on a boss there’s no reason to sit there getting upset about it! Go explore other areas, get hearts and abilities, come back later! I believe it’s possible to have at least 300 health before you fight the boss in question, making him pretty simple. As for the spike pit, that area is 100% optional. Like I said, the game isn’t perfect, but I made the design choice of presenting the player with challenges early on and either letting them tough them out (for the hardcore) at the start or wait until later when they’ll be easier for them. Plus, if Regular is too tough for you, there is always the Simple difficulty.

  • Zmann

    The only real qualm I have with the game is the music. It’s rather horrid.

  • Lim-Dul

    YMM – I’ve beaten the boss in question. =)

    And I don’t know what’s optional and what isn’t – how should I? Hence I keep on going in any direction I see fit…

    As for the difficulty settings – right, there is Regular and even two difficulty settings higher than regular… I mean, I’ve been playing video games since I was 6 (including platformers) – this kind of difficulty doesn’t pose a challenge, especially since for me it’s the “random” kind of difficulty, having not much to do with skill, it just makes me stop playing the game. If I enjoyed playing “Punishment: The Punishing” more, then I find that there must be something wrong with your game…

    Sorry – I just don’t like the game very much – I don’t mean to offend you in any way. After all you’ll have to cope with people who criticize your game as well as those who praise it. I still regard it as an above-average effort and I like the graphics…

  • Echo

    Is there a full screen mode for this game? I wasn’t able to find a proper one. :(

    I played an early demo of this – twas pretty decent then, but he seems to have changed the music or something in between. Not sure what to make of it now.

  • Echo

    Hmm – now that I’ve played a bit further, I think maybe I was wrong about the music. Think the old version had the same thing :)

    Still looking for that fullscreen mode though!

  • Echo

    Ah, there is a fullscreen mode! It’s in the options menu, of all places.

    I think I might have come across a bit negative in my last, er, two comments. This is pretty good, overall :)

  • YMM

    Yes, there is a fullscreen mode on the options menu (on the pause screen).

    Lim-Dul – Sorry if I came across as forcing the game on you or anything. I accept that some people will simply not like the game and it definitely isn’t perfect (I’ve already had to reupload it with one bug fix).

    The particular aspect of the game you had a problem with (the difficulty of that boss) was just something I did on purpose and felt I needed to explain it. The way the game is meant to be played, is that when you get stuck on something you go find something else to do and come back to it later. There will almost always be something easier to do when you are stuck because the game is so non-linear, and the difficulty curve will be much smoother for you if you explore when you get stuck rather than just focus on that one obstacle.

    I feel like I’ve overstayed my welcome in this comments section and am coming across as unable to take criticism, especially since I’m commenting on my own game. I’ll withdraw now and let you guys talk about it in peace.

    Thank you everyone for giving the demo a shot! I’m glad that a game of mine was featured here, this is much more exposure than I am used to and I’m really quite honored. I hope that my next game will be more appealing to those who did not like this one much.

  • Shinji16

    *hears YMM talking about difficulty and designed to walk away and come back*

    I’m remembering trying to play Jumper 2 and Dim. Similar experiences. Great games mind you but fecking hell they’re hard.

    It’s a good thing though I assure you.

  • Lim-Dul

    OK, YMM – if you say that some parts of the game are designed to be beaten LATER rather than now then I might give your demo another try when I’m in the mood. :-P

  • mje

    Hm, the demo doesn’t run for me. It hangs when loading, keeping its window hanging there forever. Windows is unable to kill the process. It even makes reboot not work somehow, so the only way to fix things is to hit the PC’s reset button. Kinda put me off a bit.

  • fucrate

    I can’t even run the demo… its all “your file is corrupt” or some such stuff… Sucks…

  • Derek

    Yeah, that spike pit made me cry out “FUCK” and I almost dragon punched myself in the face in frustration. Once you get it, though, you can do it blindfolded! The key is learning how to manage your double jump with those floaty, bouncy things.

    What’s frustrating me now, though, is that I think I need the yellow ball to progress and I’m 200 crystals short. So… that means I need to spend like two hours shooting pots to continue. :(

    Good game! But as YMM himself admitted, it’s not perfect.

  • Chuchino

    The yellow orbs don’t give any abilities, as far as I know. They’re for something else. You probably just need to explore more carefully.

  • Lim-Dul

    I think by yellow orbs Derek meant the yellow energy pools. I suppose they work in conjunction with an ability just like the red ones.

  • Smeargle

    Does anyone have a walkthrough or how to atleast transfrom from being an egg to a birg thing?

  • Moldar

    Haven’t seen a walkthrough, but it would seem that birds are quite penitent in this world.

    And if you get stuck, try looking along the edges of your map for rooms you *may* be able to get to, somehow. Several big regions are accessible that way.

  • ChevyRay

    A perfect game would be no good, because then all the people who don’t advocate perfection wouldn’t enjoy it as much ;)

    I’ve found that this is best a game that you repetitively come back to instead of trying to go at it all at once. That could be just me, of course. Either way, I rather enjoyed it for what it was.

    Like Derek, I also ran into a couple times where I had to just collect crystals to continue, and that sort of seemed to contradict what the game stood for a bit. Either way, there’s always more things to find, so every time you do have to trudge on through something there seems to be enough reward to make up for your efforts.

  • Lim-Dul

    OK – I gave the game a second chance, ignored the spike area, especially since at that point I didn’t have the abilities to pass it (I found it out LATER when I got several upgrades – how am I supposed to know what upgrades there are?) and got much farther this time. HOWEVER I still insist that at many points bad level design rather than conscious difficulty shows its ugly face.

    E.g. from the last save point you are supposed to go through THREE screens filled with spikes, cannons, tricky jumps etc. before you reach the (quite easy) ghost boss. Lose too much health on the way (you won’t know that the mistakes you’ve made were unforgivable until you reach the boss) and you have to do the whole thing again.

    Designing tricky platform puzzles that require several attempts to solve is one thing but forcing the player to go through long sections of a level several times is another. Compare this with Within a Deep Forest – it had it’s tricky and demanding moments as well (I wouldn’t dare saying that they were easier than anything I’ve found here so far) but a save point was never far away.

    Also, like Derek and ChevyRay said, the crystals are far too rare to make collecting them any fun – I’ve spent like 10 minutes running back and forth between two screens to collect enough of them. Somehow this (plus the things I’ve written before) isn’t my idea of fun…

    More reports when I get myself to play the game again.

    P.S. My status report:
    Collected 11 hearts.
    Have the following upgrades:
    Jump 1, 3
    Energy Jump 1
    Double Jump +1
    Dive Bomb
    Shoot Fire + Long Shots
    Defeated the following bosses:
    Pink jumping thing
    Stone head

  • Zmann

    The problem isn’t the crystals, as you rarely, if ever, have to actually go out of your way to collect them. You don’t actually need many (if any) of the power-ups available at the shop to continue.

    The problem is that a specific and important item is needed to progress past a certain point, and they way you get it is very non-obvious. I’m not even sure if it’s hinted at, and I found it completely by accident.

  • Lim-Dul

    Update: To prove my point – instead of looking at games by other authors look at Jumper (yes, you too, Matt :-P). It IS a hard game about performing tricky jumps but confined to one level at a time. I like it quite a bit although it’s frustrating (in a good way).

    I think that in Untitled Story’s case it was forgotten that this is a game of another type… Add more save-points, especially before/after some hard sections (so far I get the feeling that they are standing in the middle of nowhere or after easy sections) and before bosses and the game will be much better.

  • Lim-Dul

    Ah – another thing – usually I leave games that I don’t like alone and simply don’t play them. I’m posting so much about this one because I feel that I MIGHT like it if several things were changed.

    *The problem is that a specific and important item is needed to progress past a certain point, and they way you get it is very non-obvious. I’m not even sure if it’s hinted at, and I found it completely by accident.*

    Yeah – that as well. And since there are SO many upgrades, it seems, you never know if your supposed to get one before attempting a section or if you should simply try harder or try another way…

  • Chuchino

    If the “specific and important” item you guys are talking about is the one in the screen above the bird statue, there is a hint to it somewhere.

  • failrate

    @YMM – I’m interested to know about your decision to charge $1. It sounds like a reasonable price for a smaller game. How well is that working out for you?


  • YMM

    Hey – glad to answer your question.

    It’s working out great, despite a small hitch in the plan: $1.00 donations actually only translate to $0.47 for me after transaction fees, so I depend on the larger donations. I obviously didn’t think it through quite enough and for my next for-profit release I will likely set the minimum at $3.00. Luckily for me, I’ve received as many $5 and $10 donations as I have $1, and even several over $50!

    I’m very new to this whole “making money off of game making” thing, but I needed the cash so I thought what the hell, might as well try. The idea was to let the player set the price, and it’s worked pretty well so far except for the problem listed above. Oh well, live and learn, right?

  • pkt-zer0

    Speaking of learning from mistakes, you might want to remove that 1.9MB large Thumbs.db file from the backgrounds folder of the demo, in case it really is just a thumbnail cache for whatever-image-viewer-you-use. :P

  • YMM

    Ah thanks for the heads up, not sure how I missed that.

  • !CE-9

    Nashi-shougou Monogatari? huh?=) *nudge*

    man, this game has probably the smallest bosses EVER. rough (but likeable) graphics, weird soundtrack… but you gotta love it. I did enjoy the exploration, the wandering around, the destroyed gamepad & display.

    people moaning about $1 donation (of which paypal sees more than YMM)? oh come on. what’s that? ha’f a pint o’lager? a bar of chocolate? it definitely is gonna last longer.
    (no I’m not gonna pay for the soundtrack either, but that’s a different story.)

  • I Like Cake

    Any idea why it wouldn’t recognize my USB controller? I can’t seem to select anything other than keyboard controls.

  • tayabi

    This is a charming little game. At first I found the music to be somewhat bewildering, but I think it fits the game’s quirky world decently enough.

    It is a bit challenging, but I think some people are complaining too much. Yes, there are some really difficult sections, but which would you rather have — challenge (and the mystery and allure that comes with wanting to find more power-ups/areas) or to beat the game in 10 minutes?

    You just have to keep playing through parts until you learn the tricks, it’s like any other game in that regard.

    It’s nice to pick up for a few minutes, save, come back to it when you have some time, and eventually you’ll get through it. I really enjoy the hand-drawn artwork, it’s unique and coupled with the movement / gameplay mechanics makes everything feel somewhat soft. Good balance.

    Overall a commendable indie effort. I _much_ prefer this to knytt which seems to have absolutely no reward/purpose. Not that AUS seems to have much (any?) of a story but at least the Metroid memories are aplenty in this game.

  • Ren

    Well, I’ve more or less blazed through the game. I started on Regular, got to a rough time after a Pac-Man looking boss, restarted on Simple, 5 hours later I’ve reached the end with 78 completion, a few hours later I’ve got 88 completion, and just aimlessly wandering around trying to find a few missing hearts. Though surprisingly I don’t have all the upgrades, and finding the last two ghostly blue things is a pain. I’ll eventually get them.

    Excellent game, YMM, you’ve done it again. I especially love the vending machine.

  • NGAjoe

    I am very impressed with this game. I especially enjoy how the story unravels. The first few levels of silence and plot obscurity set you up for the mid-game, and then you really pay attention to the NPCs who finally talk to you. I also especially enjoy all the nooks and crannies to find. Hard, but not crazy difficult to figure out. Thanks for your work! Well done.

  • Ben Sprattler

    i am so completely stuck. The only passages I have left (that I can find) I can’t seem to do anything with. I have two yellow gates I don’t know how to open (one next to the spike area, one above the blue area), skysand (except I can’t get past the flame), the yellow floaty things (which I can’t seem to interact with), and the spike area. I’ve gotten to the bottom, but not with enough health to open the heart gate, and YMM has said this area is optional anyway. Anyone want to give me a hint?

  • Smargle

    i need help too ;;

  • Xander

    My only hint would be that you might have a power that doesn’t really seem like much of a power. In which case, best find out where you can use it. There’s a clue off to the right of the 1st boss battle room.

    Great game so far! Though, like I said earlier, I may kill someone over the underwater section.

  • RvLeshrac

    Sitting at 52% (Roughly, I know where a couple of hearts are, but I’m ignoring them ftm), and can’t seem to progress. I’ve finishe the underwater stage and the areas to the left and right.

    I’m only missing 5 blue spheres:
    -Double Jump Upgrade 1
    -Air Upgrade 2
    -Shoot Ice

  • Xander

    Oddly I haven’t had any trouble collecting crystals so far, but then I did master that Farfall section so I guess the Jar Upgrade has been helping out with that. I’ve sometimes thought of grinding to upgrade, but anything I get from bosses is generally sufficient for my next upgrade.

    I still hate the underwater section, having been pretty much everywhere else I can see (and I get stuck in Skysands. Room with spikey people and a red thing WAY out of reach. How do I know the upgrade I need is in that damned underwater?)

  • Whisper

    This is an excellent game. It’s gameplay reminds me alot of the old Metroid games, the artstyle and music lend a really mystical mood to it, it sort of seemed like Klonoa or Spyro in good old 2-d flash. : )

    It’s hard as hell, though. And the one thing I’m stuck on isn’t the platforming, it’s the stupid underwater chest puzzle. >_< I suck at stuff like this. Oh well. I'm sure I'll crack it. You have a real knack for intelligent challenge and design, which shows you're the real deal when it comes to creativity with this sort of thing. Between this and jumper, you should try finding work in the game design field or something. You don't see real talent put into many games other than with graphics nowadays. : /

  • RvLeshrac

    @Xander: You need the stick-to-ceilings upgrade for the Skysands section. I should’ve been making a more detailed map.

    Right now, I’m just missing 2 blue orbs – one of them is obviously the first air-supply upgrade, the second is whatever is between “Shoot Ice” and “Toughness”.

    Still haven’t beaten the 17th boss (Cloudrun), though. It seems like you HAVE to take 140 damage every time you hit him, which is patently unfair if that’s the case. There should at least be a way to mitigate the damage (without just collecting hearts).

    Oh, well. At least that’s an optional one. :p