Puppeteer | Zombiegamer Review


In Short

Puppeteer makes up for its relatively undemanding platforming with a wonderfully scripted narrative, charming narration and the lovely, abstract artwork that permanently stays true to its inventively crafted puppet show theme. An instant classic for all platformer fans.

Developer: Japan Studio
Publisher: SCE
Distributor: Ster-Kinekor
For fans: Platform games, LBP
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: N/A
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.0/10

What I liked

  • Stunning, enchanting artwork
  • Creative design
  • Characters
  • Level design
  • Narrative
  • Narration
  • Boss fights

Not so much

  • Gameplay can be a little easy


Gameplay and Features

I haven’t been this bowled over by gameplay design in this genre since LittleBigPlanet. Your first contact with the game, like the previous example, is nothing short of magical. It has that same creative wowing ability. Its games like these that truly demonstrate videogames as an art form. Not just because of the whimsical and abstract artwork, but the entire game’s design and gameplay.

The game completely takes place on puppet-show stages, and all the characters are puppets. The game plays out like a puppet show, with the narrator taking you through the stages. There is a bit of unique gameplay: like our protagonist, Kutaro, a puppet who features interchangeable heads. These heads are picked up along the stages and each have a special little move which helps find secret collectables. Unique too, is that our Kutaro is always accompanied by a fairy or a cat type characters, who can be controlled with the right thumb-stick, also to find hidden collectibles by hitting the ‘investigate’ button. The headline platforming feature is the use of giant scissors to cut through trails of leaves and other objects, to get across or up far reaching platforms.

The rest of the gameplay, although crisp and well sorted, is fairly standard to the genre. Jumping across platforms, blowing objects up with bombs and boss fights which require a specific order of gameplay to defeat: combining the various gameplay elements in a certain order to defeat them. Fortunately the boss fights were at least somewhat challenging.

The various levels each have three acts, and each act ends with a boss fight. The levels are somewhat unique, but not unique enough – I think LittleBigPlanet spoiled us when it came to ever changing level design. The various levels, although different looking, generally require the same sort of gameplay. After a few hours nothing really surprised me. That said, the levels are all charming and highly detailed, very pleasing on the eye.

Sound and Visuals

The audio and visuals are of the absolute highest quality. Every last frame your eyes see are spectacularly detailed in a charming, abstract, sketched art-style. The characters, good and bad, are all so interesting, well though-out and true to the puppet theme. My kids have only seen basic ‘hand in sock’ puppet shows, so they were absolutely captivated, watching the game play out like a show. For once my impatient five-year old wasn’t moaning at me to skip through the cinematic sequences. For once she was actually entirely drawn into the narrative. The quirky script is joyously narrated in ‘story telling’ fashion which just ads to the “show” theme. Puppeteer is one of the best looking and sounding games you will find, an absolute delight.


Closing Comments

I would say Puppeteer is not about challenging gameplay, it’s all about the whimsical and charming ride through a wonderful story. Everything plays out like a puppet show, second to none. It’s a wonderfully captivating adventure that uses storytelling rather than neat tricks to bowl you over. The reward here is like that of watching a great film or reading a wonderful book, and I love it because of this. Puppeteer is a wonderful starting point for a series, and I do so hope it becomes a series, which won me over in plenteously, but left room for more.

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