Cinematic puzzle platformers are satisfying now and again. I don’t exit of my method to play them usually, however I’m more than pleased to indulge once I spot one thing artistic. A Juggler’s Story doesn’t essentially do a lot otherwise from a gameplay perspective, however it does have some surprisingly recent concepts that make it stand out in a crowded discipline. It may be fairly irritating at instances, however I’m glad I acquired the prospect to spend a few hours going via its story, even when I’ll proceed to begrudge it for a few terrible segments.
A Juggler’s Story is introduced as a narrative instructed by a puppeteer throughout a puppet present. The curtains open on the story of Abby, a younger lady who’s enslaved by an area circus proprietor due to her potential to juggle. She’s allowed to carry out in a present alongside a bear named Urs, however then she’s locked in a small cage. It’s, uh, actually grim. But it surely doesn’t take lengthy for Abby to make a break for it, and the puppeteer narrates the entire thing. It’s truthfully fairly concerned, regardless that, yeah, they’re all puppets. They don’t have faces or voices, simply wood dolls on strings.
However what makes the story particular doesn’t present up till later. I’m not going to enter it, as a result of it’s higher to find by taking part in the sport. The way in which A Juggler’s Story performs with narrative tropes and your expectations for them could be very sensible. Your time within the recreation received’t final lengthy, although, because it clocks in at solely a few hours. Although it’s a good various to watching a film, plus it has the pacing of 1. It’s uncommon for a recreation this brief to go away me feeling happy, however A Juggler’s Story did.
I’ll have the standard
You management Abby, who can bounce and seize objects both to maneuver them or manipulate them. Abby can push and pull sure objects or use levers or the like. What’s completely different is that you may work together with the strings connected to puppets. The strings additionally come into play throughout the recreation’s puzzles. For example, Abby merely can’t stroll underneath sure objects, as her strings will get caught, requiring her to seek out one other manner round. This sometimes results in the puppeteer manipulating her straight to assist her cross gaps.
The puzzles are first rate and are usually not too onerous to resolve. Some are extra intelligent in idea than they’re enjoyable to participate in, although. An early puzzle sees you fastidiously carrying torches within the rain whereas they’re at risk of being extinguished. This whole part is simply form of meh. It’s properly designed sufficient, however it form of acquired outdated after a few instances, at which level it retains going. A Juggler’s Story is split into 5 acts of various lengths, with every going down in a distinct location.
The sport was made utilizing Unreal Engine 4, and I used to be truthfully stunned by how pretty the surroundings might be. The usage of shade and broad vistas is kind of attractive. It’s not one thing I anticipated from a puppet present, however solely the dolls are actually designed to evoke that look. All the pieces else is generally rendered as if it had been an actual factor, which does quite a bit to present the degrees a way of scale and scope that wouldn’t have existed in any other case. There’s solely the one voice actor within the recreation, who portrays the puppeteer, however he’s superb and there’s extra to his efficiency than the early recreation implies.
I shake my fist at you
Whereas I did take pleasure in A Juggler’s Story general, I do have to enter these aforementioned sections. Actually, they’re fairly horrible. The more severe of the 2 entails pushing a cart previous a guard with a lantern. At first, it’s not even clear that you may transfer the cart. However the issue right here is that the guard typically noticed me once I ought to have had loads of cowl to cover behind. This part annoyed me enormously, and I really hope to by no means see it once more.
One other part concerned utilizing a whirlpool to lure a ship that’s chasing you. It’s a very poor occasion that requires you to progress previous the whirlpool as soon as, solely so that you can study that you simply’re about to be chased and cross it once more. However it’s worthwhile to depart the whirlpool to set off the next sequence, so you actually simply should guess and hope you probably did it accurately as a way to transfer on. The kicker is that the whirlpool is simply protected to journey for transient durations. If the timing is off by only a bit you’ll have to start out over. It’s sloppy and, very like the cart part, it drags the sport to a screeching halt.
Considered one of A Juggler’s Story‘s closing sections aggravated me as properly however for various causes. The answer to one of many recreation’s closing puzzles simply doesn’t make logical sense in any respect. If something, the answer breaks a rule that the sport goes out of its method to set up. Once more, I can’t go into it with out spoiling a number of the surprises. However all of those little sore spots added up sufficient to negatively have an effect on my general impression of the sport design. It’s good that the writing and ideas are intelligent sufficient to stability it out. These sections would have completely sunk a lesser recreation.
However A Juggler’s Tale actually is bigger than the sum of its elements. Even now, pondering again to its highlights and story ideas, I’m nonetheless impressed by how unique sections of the sport might be — frustration be damned. Between its artistic story, surprisingly robust presentation, and a few actually enjoyable concepts that correspond very properly to the sport’s puppet present theme, this can be a recreation that followers of cinematic puzzle platformers would do properly to take a look at. Except they simply actually hate puppets.
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