STAFF REVIEW of Story Goes On, The (Xbox One)

Thursday, April 5, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Story Goes On, The Box art Roguelike games tend to all have that one thing in common; permadeath. Normally I find this frustrating, as you lose your progress each time you die, though the ones I do enjoy though do have some sort of progression that persists through death so that all of your hard work wasn’t for nothing. This leads me to my review of The Story Goes On, which is a game that will have you (and a friend should you choose) exploring randomly generated worlds, searching for the elusive boss key which allows you access to fighting that world’s leader.

At its core, The Story Goes On is a top down hack and slash title, but with roguelike qualities. There’s a scarecrow that loves talking in puns, and it’s a very light hearted affair that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You start off with access to only one character, Aiden, a kid who is equipped with a sword and hookshot that allows him to traverse quickly, much like a dash.

Levels are randomly generated, filling each section with enemies that you kill for loot, coins, and keys. If you’re lucky you’ll find special upgrades that increase your speed, damage, attack, and other abilities, making survival that much easier. You’ll also find a slew of items and loot, some of which need a key to open treasure boxes to obtain, of which you’ll find plenty of during your adventure.

Played in a top down view, you control your character like any other twin stick shooter. The left stick is used for movement and the right stick is used to aim. The triggers and bumpers are how you attack and use your items and abilities, so it comes as second nature pretty quickly. A friendly scarecrow will walk you through the basics during a tutorial of sorts, as you’ll begin incredibly slow and weak. As you start adventuring further, and gathering upgrades, you’ll become quite proficient in combat, becoming quite a hero in the process.

Much like a typical Zelda map, you move from room to room, with each one only unlocking after all of the monsters are killed. You'll be searching for a boss key, which unlocks their lair. The map in the upper right is very helpful, as it will show the room layouts and a breadcrumb trail of where you’ve been, so you know where you may want to explore next. The more enemies you kill, the more potential coins and keys you can find, so it’s not always a good idea to make a mad dash for the boss if you haven't fully explored every room, as those upgrade are going to come in handy very shortly once you die.

While it’s not hard to find the boss keys or their doors, the fights themselves are quite entertaining. There’s a handful of bosses, which are randomized as well, so every time you get to the first boss after dying and restarting, it will most likely be a different boss than the previous run. This helps with the monotony, though they are never too terribly challenging. Most bosses are simple hack and slash fights, but there are a few that are a little more unique and interesting. I quite liked the snow boss that was essentially a 'cup and ball' game, having to keep an eye on the quick moving igloos and choosing which of the three you think he’s hiding under. Choose wrong and an enemy will attack, choose right and you get a few moments to attack him before repeating the game again, but much quicker.

Oh, I should mention that you will die, but not because of the difficulty, as it’s actually quite casual in that aspect, but it will be more due to simple mistakes, or even boredom to be honest. The bosses aren’t even all that challenging, as it’s just pattern recognition. After every boss you’ll fall into a black hole where the scarecrow greets you once again, offering you a handful of choices of items to buy, ranging from weapons, hearts, keys and even a random item that could benefit or hinder you. When you die, you start at the beginning again, though there are certain upgrades that stay with you and persist through death, making each subsequent run through slightly easier, and eventually you'll become quite powerful. This is the hook that kept me playing, even though I was dying now and then, at least all of my progress wasn’t completely wiped.

There’s a surprising amount of humor contained within the game as well. The scarecrow uses silly puns that would make dad jokes proud, and even some of the items and their descriptions got a chuckle out of me. The randomness can work for or against you as well. Some run throughs will become incredibly easy, based on the random loot and weapons you get, while other times you might not get anything that suits your playstyle, causing you to die much sooner. With over 50 different items, each run will feel different given the random placement of the levels themselves, bosses and loot.

The first few runs, even with the deaths I experienced, was entertaining, but eventually the monotony began to set in. After a few hours you’ll probably have had your fill, unless you’re hunting for achievements, or specifically enjoy the random aspect to everything. As for the visuals, the game has a storybook feel to it, but it’s quite basic, even if it is colorful. That being said, some of the stages are quite dark and it can be hard to see the room doors, so it’s hard to appreciate some of the work that’s gone into it. As for the audio, I really appreciated how the soundtrack sped up and became more exciting if there’s lots going on, adding to the experience.

What I found as I played, was that I ended up dying from simple mistakes, and not out of sheer difficulty, especially once my character was more powerful. The hardest part about The Story Goes On is battling the tediousness, and sometimes the randomness. While the randomness adds a little longevity to the title, it can also go against you at times too, so it goes both ways.

For being a roguelike game, I enjoyed how The Story Goes On kept certain aspects of your progress, not being too harsh with its penalties. The core gameplay is decent, though not terribly exciting. It has some interesting ideas but definitely won’t wow you out of the gate. That being said, for $8.00 you could do a lot worse with games that offer a lot less.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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