Friday, March 1, 2024

Storyteller lets you put a queer twist on classical tropes

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved the intimacy of experiencing a story. Whether that be books, films, TV shows or games, there’s something exciting about cracking open a story, and letting it rush through you, your own personality and perspective colouring the tale. For me, that meant reading things like Jane Eyre and through a queer lens, something which also shaped my time with Storyteller.

Storyteller is a marvel of a game that combines puzzles with interactive fiction, tasking players with writing a story by giving them a title, characters, and their very own backdrop setting. This could be something as similar as a wedding chapel or as morbid as a graveyard, and each one will ask you to be creative as you could possibly be in order to solve the puzzle and move onto the next chapter.

The purpose of Storyteller is for players to see the title of the story they’ve been given – for example, ‘Story of a Tragedy’ – and make it fit with the tools you’ve been given. Considering that I’m as straight as cooked spaghetti though, I saw the chance of creating something that’d resonate with not just Gayming Magazine’s audience, but myself as a queer woman. Yes, it was time to make Storyteller as queer as humanly possible.

And for the most part, Buenos Aires developer Daniel Benmergui does let you do just that. In the game’s Steam summary it describes that you can indeed shape these stories and “twist” them in whichever way you see fit, regardless of familiarity. And it is as you’d expect it to be: very fun.

Sapphic tales ONLY in this playthrough

One of the first tasks you’re given is to show someone healing after tragedy. It gives you three characters to set the stage – Edgar, Eleonora, and Ligeia. The two settings are Marriage and Grave, so this seems like it’ll be a little simple from the get-go, but the fact of the matter is that, despite the limitations, there are at least three different tales you can tell. As you can see from above, Edgar and Eleonora were together, but after an untimely death (poison, maybe?) Eleonora found love with Ligeia instead. I do love a happy ending.

It isn’t just sapphic tales you can tell though, there were plenty of times that I had dear Edgar fall for the rugged, dangerous scoundrel that is the Baron. The Baron does like to stab people out of jealousy, but we can’t always fall for the perfect person, now can we?

While this game may seem simple on paper, it’s anything but as you continue throughout the puzzles. Instead of your ‘own’ characters like Edgar, Ligeia, Baron, and Eleonora, you’ll instead be given characters like Adam and Eve, or Dracula, Mina, and Jonathan from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And while this is only a demo build, I can confirm that I saw other familiar tales like Romeo and Juliet and Oedipus.

Unlike the previous tales I messed with though, there does seem to be some sort of limit for how much you can change some iconic stories. For example, I couldn’t make Jonathan and Dracula be heartbroken over one another, nor could I make Adam and Eve anything but lovers. This I didn’t mind too much, but just as a fair warning for those out there who’re hankering at the bit for a chance to spread the love for their Jonathan/Dracula ship. I’m not judging, promise.

I’ve never been a puzzle person, but I love to write and create new stories, and Storyteller’s combination of the two makes it a game that’s not only on my radar but one that I’m eagerly looking forward to diving into when it releases in full.

Storyteller is available to play (demo only) on Steam.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.