A Juggler’s Tale review – platform puppets

A Juggler’s Tale – there are strings on it (photo: Mixtvision)

A new indie developer takes inspiration from Inside and Little Nightmares with a cinematic puzzle platformer where the strings are very visible.

It’s surprising how few games have used puppets as a theme, given that controlling any video game avatar could easily be interpreted as a form of puppet – especially some games where the developer only seems to want to. that you play it exactly the way he wanted. In recent memory only 2013 Puppeteer really leaned into the aesthetic, letting you cut enemies and cut seams in sets, as a live audience screams with the action.

One element missing from Puppeteer was the real chains. However, A Juggler’s Tale, the debut title from German developer Kaleidoscube, makes it a central part of the narrative and gameplay. While not as demanding or varied as Sony’s puppet exclusivity, A Juggler’s Tale effectively and efficiently executes its vanity.

The play, set inside a bar puppet show, sees puppeteer Jack telling the story of Abby, a caged juggler who flees the circus. Shortly after her escape, the playmaker hires a group of bandits to hunt down Abby, led by the particularly persistent Tonda. As you progress through the game’s five chapters, you engage in minor stealth, chase sequences, and puzzles to find out what it means to be free.

Although nominally billed as a platform game, A Juggler’s Tale is primarily a sequence of puzzles stitched together. They are simple but satisfying, like throwing a ball at a metal object to get a guard’s attention, allowing you to steal the key hanging from his waist. Others require removing obstacles so you can progress without tangling the strings, like setting tree branches on fire or running windmills.

There are some less obvious situations as well, although most boil down to figuring out what you can interact with and inferring its use in the environment – so you never get stumped for too long.

The gameplay is generally less intensive than most puzzle platform games, which matches the playful, childish, and folk-inspired soundtrack. There are darker turns and it’s easy enough to die on some sets that require a certain amount of experimentation, but the overall experience is pleasant and forgiving – even the puppeteer occasionally assists, lifting your strings to the nearby ledges. when you are brushing near danger.

Slowing down, however, is how you are encouraged to play. In many places you are invited to soak up the stunning backdrop vistas, from lush country fields at sunset to rainy swamps in the dark – all rich in color and impressive lighting effects. It’s no surprise that an illustrated children’s book is due out next year based on the graphics, as it captures the simplicity of Gothic fairy tales even in a still image.

Screenshot of the story of a juggler

A Juggler’s Tale – a very nice game (photo: Mixtvision)

The relaxed approach is also probably approved because the adventure is very short. There’s only two hours of playtime here, which is slim even when compared to similar titles like Limbo and Inside. There’s enough visual and gameplay variety to make the journey satisfying, but the severe lack of replayability is less forgivable, with the game offering no incentives, like collectibles or new challenges, to warrant a reboot once. the elapsed credits.

While it may affect your take on its value proposition, A Juggler’s Tale’s tale is memorable and well-paced. The puppeteer, who initially squeaks as he recounts Abby’s movements with constant, rhyming couplets, ultimately turns out to have a bigger purpose that makes early irritations somewhat appropriate.

However, not all items click in the larger image. The occasional chase sequences fall flat, especially compared to Ori And The Will Of The Wisps, as the game’s relatively unresponsive controls aren’t really designed for them. Some of the latest puzzles require trial and error as well, but the generous checkpoint system alleviates those frustrations.

These quibbles aside, A Juggler’s Tale impresses with its satisfaction despite its compact length. Like the best children’s books, it’s smart in its simplicity, gently guiding you from one beautiful setting to another, while scattering rewarding and leisurely mini-puzzles in between. It doesn’t quite measure up to puzzle platform games like Little Nightmares 2 or Inside, but as a new studio’s first project, this puppet adventure puts on a nice show.

A Juggler’s Tale review summary

In short: A charming platform and puzzle game that makes great use of its puppet show concept but lacks longevity.

Advantages: Beautiful visual style with a lot of personality. A nice story that takes surprising turns. The puzzles are satisfying despite their simplicity.

The inconvenients: Only two hours and no real replay value. Some action-oriented sequences are difficult to play.

Goal: 7/10

Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X / S, and PC
Price: £ 11.99
Publisher: Mixtvision
Developer: kaleidoscube
Release Date: September 29, 2021
Age group: 7

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