In first impressions, A Story About My Uncle is an absolutely beautiful looking game with really solid mechanics that add together to make a wonderful game to play, and it lives up to that moniker as "a wonderful game to play".
The visuals look absolutely stunning and the game is a whole boat-ton of fun to play through. If you ever screwed around with +hook in Quake servers, or even the unreleased official Q3A grappling hook, then you'll be right at home. This is an entire, single-player campaign video game based around such a Quake-style grappling device. To back it up, the player is equipped with a "super jump", that allows him to bound across long gaps or up large heights, and later recieves a pair of rocket boots that allow you to shoot through the sky letting you traverse even further distances without grip. This is probably the updates the game has recieved talking, but unlike many reviewers I never ran into an instance where the platforming solution I chose dissallowed me from continuing. If a solution was wrong, it was extremely obvious. You could even game with platforms that weren't meant to be landed on to recharge grapples. (You get 3 grapples per jump, but it builds you up to that point throughout the first level.)
A quick note on the level design: There are a few "waiting puzzles" were you have to time your grapples to when a rock comes to you to use the momentum to your advantage, but these disappear pretty quickly. Later puzzles with moving parts have enough grapple points to be more like "momentum puzzles." Otherwise, the level design and gameplay is nearly flawless.
This all works together to make one of the most fun video games I've played in a long time. That's why I kept playing the levels, over and over again, looking for unlockables and seeing if I could 100% it plus achievements. It's so fun to play.
Hope you've girded your loins, because that's all the praise this game is getting. I'm really not sure how to begin this next paragraph, so let's right out say it.
The story is shit. It's garbage. Tripe. It's so bad it made me angry. This is truly ironic for a video game where "story" is the title's first non-article word. It's practically painful. The story follows an unnamed protagonist who visits his uncle's house one day after a long time with no contact. Inside, he finds a powered suit and launch pad that send him to another planet with mysterious flora and strange inhabitants as he searches for his missing relative. This is told through the framing device of our protagonist in his old age telling the story back to his daughter as best as he can remember it.
There's nothing to examine here. He's looking for his uncle. Nothing will stop him. That's the whole story. The sheer simplicity of the actual story here makes all the attempts the game makes at detailing itself and making itself coherent moot. When it does attempt it, the game falls flat on its face.
For example, there's a very big bit about an outcasted group called "The Strays" who either left or were banished from a village encountered early in the game. Much later, you finally get the chance to meet some strays. You say hi, your NPC friend exchanges some banter, and then you leave. You only meet one other stray afterwards and nothing ever comes from these three NAMED characters.
There's a language The Strays have, and it's 1:1 to the English language. Translating them explains nothing. Only jokes and pointless phrases that are so generic they could've been fit anywhere else in the game at any time.
The voice acting is shoddy. Nobody seems to have put any effort into saying their lines beyond the intensity I would expect from an Edutainment game from the early 2000s. The best actor plays Fred, who only appears at the end of the game for a grand total of one scene.
And that's just coming off the top of my head. I wouldn't doubt there's a ton of other inconsistencies and confusing instances one could come up with as to the quality of the game.
There are sets of unlockables, 5 per level, that add little jokes to how you play the game. There's a "Goat Mode" which makes the character's grapple beam be a Goat Simulator-style Tongue, and make the character spout annoying Goat noises whenever you do anything. Did you laugh when I mention that? I didn't think so. The only unlockable worth anything is "Beam Color", which you obtain after 10 unlockables. After that it's just the unfunny Goat Mode, Midas Mode, which is kind of cool, but makes it hard to identify things like Power Crystals when swinging since they turn Gold instantly and stop glowing, and Acrobatics mode, that makes your camera swing around wildly when you jump, making the game completely unplayable. That's the big all-secret-machines-collected unlockable: making the game unplayable.
My last complaint about the game is the inconsistent animation. It looks like the budget ran out about half-way into the game. Everybody all of a sudden moves so stiffly and expresses only basic emotion in their face, when in Maddie's first appearance she has lively facial expressions and body movement that really brings across any sort of emotion. Maddie herself is an annoying little brat, but her animation was stellar. Suddenly the quality dropped off the face of the earth for everyone. What happened? The modeling is pretty bad too: Even on highest detail settings, Maddie's face (amongst all the other frog people) looks disgusting.
So, verdict: The game is an absolute joy to play. However, it is too short and WAY too poorly written to really make it a game I would reccomend. If a modding community can spring up and create a series of awesome levels to go along with the game, I'd probably recommend it. But A Story About My Uncle itself is not a very good video game. I can't reccommend it in good judgement.