Review: Untold – more than story cubes!

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In a world full of steam and machinery, some device was conceived. A mysterious box named OZMO, that can bring a complete twist in technology to everybody. It has power to both create and destroy. Just a few weeks ago, it was just the myth, I was blindly racing for. But today, I got a tip for a lab, where they have a functional prototype. And now I know I have to get it for myself!

This was probably start of our first adventure in . This new game of designers Rory O’Connor and is based on popular Rory’s Story Cubes with symbols. New release comes from as a novelty near the end of . The game was introduced for the first time on Spiel 2017 fair in Essen, its distribution for Europe is done by ().

This time, we should be expecting more, than dice. In a dark box with comic graphics showing a variety of fantastic scenes, we find a smaller, half-folded, game board. Beneath it are smaller player boards with positions for tokens and help table on the left. But the most tempting components are two paper notepads. You should tear one subtitled Character sheet for every involved player, while you will need only one Story sheet for every episode you play.

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There are only a few cards (outcomes and reactions) and, of course, story dice. These are nine and their icons are identical to those dice from basic Story Cubes. The most general ones. But the game can be played with any combination of expansion dice you can imagine. Players will also receive a cardboard container, which is used to roll the dice and hold them in place. In the middle, however, there are two-layered tiles, that will help you in creating a meaningful story. It is these plates, that are placed (picture side down, for now) according to the types into five wedges on the board. They create a skeleton of your story, although you still do not know its shape and even idea. Players place a box with dice in the center of the table, place two shuffled card piles near and place the specified number of tokens on the board.

Rest of the setup is basically already a bit of playing. All participants must first agree on the characteristics of their adventure. So the story must be set into some environment, time and they need to give it some bigger context. Same thing has to be done with their characters a bit later. Everyone can define not only occupation and special abilities, but also name and even appearance (draw a portrait inside a prepared window).

Whole match is then composed of five successive phases of the story. The narration starts by revealing the first tile and starting some story. All the tiles (even later ones) first require, that players roll a set of dice and choose symbols to describe the situation. Usually, players use them to choose and describe a place, where the adventure takes place (or where heroes travel to) and introduce some bad guy. Later on, the situation is shaken and the plot gets more complicated by adding more dice. Using question mark tokens, players can get more information about your situation and get help with some findings.

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After that, they can respond to the story situation by activating the tokens with the movie flap symbol. This allows them to directly influence the situation and make a heroic actions on behalf of their characters. Players are picking up one token after another and are doing a storytelling. Before every scene (each one of five tiles), players must be able to describe their intention with a simple sentence.

But whether the whole action succeeds or not will be determined by revealing top card from outcome deck, that was shuffled before game started. Action can be either a success or a failure. But that’s not all, because there may still be some consequences (good or bad). Player cards give players only some direction, but ultimately it is only on the team of participants to describe, what happened in their story with their imagination.

Individual scenes are linked by icons, that tell players about story development. In every story, it is not about a victory, but about an experience. And it always ends with closing of the fifth scene, providing possibility of six actions to get all things done. Sometimes, however, players do not have enough actions to successfully complete the adventure. Sometimes, there will be a number of unfinished endings. Players, however, can accurately describe all development and loose ends in their record sheet, where one A5 paper is prepared for each part of the series. Over time, however, characters are developing as well with chance to increase their abilities, but also get some scars and lose something.

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Untold is a game, that greatly encourages imagination. While the original Story Cubes were totally free and it was just up to you, what you did with them, some rules came into play here. But it really allows you to tell a meaningful and exciting story every time.

It’s hard not to miss the possibilities and narratives in this game. After the episode, you will have the same urgency to continue as with any TV series. But there is no TV station here telling you, what’s enough, but only you. It’s your story! You will determine, when the next „sequel“ will broadcast and, above all, what will happen in it.

There is always something going on in the game, there are many twists and tremendous storytelling. And that’s exactly, what the authors have been going for. The end of one of our episodes is like this one hero is drowning, the other is stunned on a boat of the villain, and powerful item we were trying to recover lies on the bottom of the bay in Paris. All this and much more can be brought to you by every game you try in Untold.

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Unlike the original Story Cubes, this novelty comes in a big box designed primarily for older players who can make up stories and keep withing limitations. Even in the development of the whole adventure, the luck is very much present in the game. It is not dice itself, which mostly serve only as help and inspiration, but especially the solution cards. These are randomly revealed and they are reason, why player’s attempts succeed or not.

And that’s probably the most powerful element of the game. All participants have to deal with the consequences and thus the whole experience is continually moving forward. All of this is beautifully variable due to the wide range of tiles in the box. They always have a bit different icons and that’s how the episodes really differ in development and twists from each other besides player’s, who constantly influence their story. But it is important to think of the players themselves.

Game works great from two participants, but even sharing ideas among more players is great. The whole story is similar to some TV series. Sixty minutes will be enough for you to complete one game, including the final notes, you will be happy to take and note your story. You will feel as if you are writing a unique blockbuster!

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But it is possible that the game will not be entertaining specifically for you. That’s because its really is not a game. This is not about victory, but just about an experience. And if you do not have a lot of imagination and do not like to come up with anything, you should not even try to play this game.

Do you like endless series, in which the villain always escape in the last moments, and heroes must again chase him again? And you will always have to come up with a new evil way of destroying the world? Then this game is made for you! Do you constantly invent new things? Do you like to be original and you do not want to repeat yourself? Then this game is made for you as well! Both these groups will be enthusiastic from the world of Untold, because its all about telling. This game is for everyone, who likes stories and is not afraid to use their own imagination to create them.

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Untold is a very free game, that lets you create stories as you see fit. It still adds some twists and turns to your ideas, forcing you to react. This time, however, your stories have a deeper sense, because they contain your own characters and can be linked into longer series. That is why Untold is an absolutely unique box, that deserves to be worshiped by all, who love their dose of narration every week.

DesignerJohn Fiore, Rory O'Connor
ArtistRob Dalton, Winnie Shek
PublisherThe Creativity Hub, Hub Games
Year Published2017
# of Players1 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(12 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(5 voters)
Language DependenceSome necessary text - easily memorized or small crib sheet
(5 voters)
CategoryDice
MechanicCooperative Game, Dice Rolling, Role Playing, Storytelling
FamilyComponents: Dice with Icons, Game: Rory's Story Cubes, Mechanism: Story Creation
Primary NameUntold: Adventures Await
Alternate NamesUntold: Das Abenteuer Wartet, Untold: La Aventura te Espera

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Untold – more than story cubes!
Final word
Untold is a great achievement and a fantastic gift for anyone, who likes stories and their creation. And where legacy games are limited in replayability and getting something new to you every time you play (now matter how long), this box will offer you absolutely unique stories whenever you open it. Whether you connect your ideas into a series of stories and constantly fight in the same world and with the same foul or invent new ones each time. No matter which of these two groups is yours, you must be enthusiastic about this game. But all this implies, that you are simply telling stories and collaborating with others on their creation. Only then can Untold have the potential to be for you, what it has become for us. An absolute narrative hit.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
complete focus on narrative
dice only give hints
cards offer twists
ability to link stories into a series
great experience
fancy structure, that guides you
freedom for fantasy
luck plays in favor of the experience
Cons
if you lack imagination, its not for you
it's not really a game (you can not win in usual sense of this word)
5
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