Few games make feel privileged and blessed to be a gamer. Ocarina of Time did it when it came out and so did Okami. Still, in this age of AAA-gaming where 'Perfect Game' means having the best graphics or turning around and insulting the player, imagine my surprise when I came across The Puppeteer.
You are Kutaro, a boy who's been spirited away in his sleep and forced to serve the tyrant Moon Bear King on, you guessed it, the moon. Like all kidnapped children, Kutaro's spirit is housed inside a puppet and must now traverse the Moon Lands in search of the Moon Shards to overthrow the Moon Bear King and return home.
Make no mistake, The Puppeeter is an amalgamation of multiple literary works in children's fiction and wears the moniker proudly. It takes inspiration from Grimm's fairytales, Japanese folklore, every kid's childish fear and weaves a beautiful tale about friendship and growing uo. It's a tired and tested formula but The Puppeteer dresses it up with a once-in-a-lifetime presentation, FANTASTIC voice-acting and memorable characters that you can't help but fall in love with it.
However, true to it's origins, The Puppeeter can be QUITE DARK. In vein of the themes of Prostitution, Murder, Rape that can be found between the lines of our children's fairytales, The Puppeteer itself packs a wallop. The creators stated that their intent was to make a game that both adults and children can enjoy and it shows. Kids will laugh at the zany going ons but the adults WILL pick up on the more darker aspects of the story. Expect to take note of Patricide, Beheading, Murder, Suicide and other forms of ghastly and grizzly fates (Captain's Gaff and Nebula's stories were particularly dark)
The Puppeteer somewhat defies your local convention. It's an action-platformer but the stage it's set upon is both literal and figurative. Kutaro is both a puppet in the story and in presentation. The game presents itself as stage show about puppets, clouds hanging from the ceiling via contraptions, flat backgrounds that change with every 'scene' and the presence of an omnipresent narrator. It's not all 2D, though, the stage becomes more and more elaborate and watching one scene transition into one another (complete with gears and contraption switching) never gets old.
There is. Really. No. Way to describe The Puppeteer's art style. You have to watch a video or experience it for yourself.
Rayman Legends would be the 'closest' I could come to describing how The Puppeteer plays. You move from left to right or right to left, depending on the stage, avoiding enemies or slaying them with your mighty scissors. On occasions, just like RL, the action moves from zipping along the X-axis and moves to the Y-axis territory (even the Z-axis at times. Bring your 3D glasses)
Difficulty-wise, it's not that challenging. There are quite a few hectic jumps and a few sequences that require patience and memorizing patterns but the game will never make you feel like it's an unfair death or that it's too easy. On the bright side, you'll be swimming in lives by the end.
Also...the boss fights. 'nuff said.
Amazing soundtrack. Amazing voice-work. Nothing else to be said. Moving on.
I can honesty and without shame say that The Puppeteer was perfect. It's a game overflowing with heart and passion. Best of all, it's a game that WANTS you to have fun. In an age where Indie games or big AAA titles want you to feel ashamed for playing videogames and tries to judges us for it -- or games that are simply a lifeless apathetic product meant to siphon our friends, it's gratifying to play something so pure.
And it's $40 dollars (may be even cheaper)! What are you waiting for! Go pick it up!