The Story Goes On merges several mechanics into one seemingly well rounded hack’n’slash experience, but that’s not to say that this game goes above and beyond. The game takes place within an unfinished storybook, one that’s been created by a crazed author. You take on the role of a hero, tasked with making it as far through each iteration as possible. It’s as simple a plot delivery as they come, and arguably the weakest element of the game. This, above all else, is a missed opportunity. The premise is one that could have been drawn out and toyed with, offering up heaps of potential and intrigue. Instead, it’s flat and lacks padding. That’s not to say that The Story Goes On isn’t worth your time, but it could have been much more than what it is.
The game adopts a top-down view, in which you control your character using twin stick motion. You’re able to aim with the right analog, whilst moving with the left. You can also utilize a standard attack and a special ability by hammering the shoulder buttons. Upon starting the game you’re swiftly introduced to a scarecrow. This character will give you the ins and outs of play, as well as a basic tutorial introduction at the beginning of the adventure. To start out, your chosen hero is slow and sluggish, which is totally by design. You’ll find that your attacks are slow and weak, your movement is snail-pace, and your overall capability to defend yourself from the onslaught of enemies is pretty meager. However, once you start moving through the adventure and obtain gold and new abilities, you swiftly become a much more formidable opponent.
These upgrades and new abilities only last as long as your next death. The Story Goes On features a perma-death system, meaning that whenever you bit the proverbial dust, you lose all of your gains and progress. This encourages the player to pick and choose their character enhancements wisely. Do you favor swifter movement to outrun your foes? Or do you lean towards improved attack power to tackle them head-on? It’s a constant juggling game in which you must put some forward thinking into motion if you want to see it through to the end. It may well be a simple affair, but the variety of power-ups and new abilities helps to keep each run feeling fresh and unique. It helps that the well detailed and diverse boss encounters at the end of each map, proves to be thoroughly engaging.
Boss encounters are random, but each of them come with their own movements and attack patterns. That being said, they’re not overly tough to overcome, nor are they hard to work out. The kicker here, is that you only have a total of three hearts to make it through the game. Damage sustained on your way to a boss, or during the boss fight, will carry over to the next map, so it pays off to play it safe irrespective as to how powerful you become. At the end of each boss sequence you will be taken to a dark room. Here, the aforementioned scarecrow will make an appearance and allow you to buy some addition aid. You’re typically given the choice between three items to spend your gold on, including the likes of; more health, upgraded attack power, new weaponry, and more. You will also be able to buy a mystery box for an inflated price, but do so at your own peril as these boxes can often produce character nerfs, rather than buffs.
Gameplay typically consists of moving from screen to screen in an attempt to locate a boss key, granting you access to the boss pit. The game is presented to you in a way that’s not too unlike dungeon sequences from A Link to the Past. There’s a map in the top corner of the screen that will chart your progression, as well as keep track of your movement. If you stumble upon a room full of enemies, you will have to clear them all to proceed. I cant quite commend the enemy variants or their design, as I found them to be quite generic and lacking in detail. Many of them follow the exact same routine, removing much of the excitement in a game that so heavily relies on replay value and longevity. The same can indeed be said about the map design and the visuals.
The Story Goes On does indeed serve up a nice collection of different environments, but none of them tend to stand out. They’re all filled with similar objects and details that just makes each new run feel repetitive as a result. On the other hand, the developer has packed each map with some cleverly hidden secrets. Such as yin-yang symbols that will grant you access to a secret area if you balance them out, or hidden doorways disguised as an igloo. There’s no shortage of fun and endearing discoveries to make, but my biggest gripe is that this is buried under bland and repetitive map design. You’ll eventually unlock alternate characters through natural progression, which is a neat addition that adds more length to the game. Though with that being said, I cant say I was enticed enough to rerun the adventure time and time again.
The Story Goes On is a decent hack’n’slash experience that blends together some interesting ideas and ties them to a steady progression system. The boss encounters remain fun throughout, and there’s no shortage of secrets to uncover. However, the game is somewhat let down by bland visuals, overly repetitive gameplay, and a lack of enemy variety.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.