A Juggler’s Tale
Genre(s): Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 29/09/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Roll Up! Roll Up!
It is amazing how the gaming industry has taken the simple concept of going from left to right on a screen and created so many wonderful games from it. A Juggler’s Tale is yet one more, combining some tried-and-tested ideas with some new ones thrown in. The resulting experience is an interesting and intriguing game of puppetry and adventure, starring a puppet called Abby.
At the start of the game, Abby is captured by an evil circus ringmaster. He makes her be part of his show after impressing him with her smarts in the game’s opening scenes. This opening serves as a means for the player to get used to the various actions available to them, and introduces Abby’s quest to find freedom. You can move Abby around using simple left, right, jump and interaction controls. From there, it’s a case of escaping and staying in front of your pursuers, solving puzzles that can be head scratching or easy or anywhere in-between.
Like A Puppet On A String
The gameplay of A Juggler’s Tale will be pretty familiar to anyone who has played the likes of Little Nightmares. As there, you watch as a vulnerable lead character uses their wits to escape the bad guys – though here, the graphics are very much set in the real world, with all its beauty and danger. It is one of those games that will delight those who enjoy watching someone else play, as the world that has been created is done so well that you feel you could just step into it.
Abby herself is quite small in size, with other characters being more hulking to accentuate her helplessness. This is where I have a criticism, as I found it was often hard to see what was going on when playing in handheld. As an old dude with glasses, I found it easier to see with them off and my face stuck close to the screen. The experience was reminiscent of when I am trying to read the ingredients on a product label in the supermarket. It isn’t an issue all the way through, and doesn’t apply so much when playing docked, but it’s something to be aware of nonetheless.
Some Strings Attached
Playing the game, though not without a few frustrations, is a real treat. This is helped by The Narrator, who speaking in rhyme and rhythm, sounds very much like Peter Capaldi (though, sadly, it’s not actually him). At first, he is a friend to Abby, helping her out when she gets stuck. It soon becomes clear though that he is not very nice at all, and your quest becomes one to escape the man pulling your strings as much as your on screen adversaries. Ah, yes… the strings!
As you are a puppet, you (and all other characters) have strings. In a practical sense, this means that your movement is restricted, and you are unable to reach certain places. You will need to solve some sort of puzzle to allow you to get past the obstacle in question. The puzzles themselves are a mixed bag in terms of quality. While most are reasonably simple, and stay within the game world’s rules, there are a few that had me swearing like a trooper. I was unable to see how I was supposed to get to the next bit of the game. As it is new, there were no walkthroughs to refer to yet, and so I had to use my brain. Sure enough, in the end, I managed to complete it with a large feeling of smugness.
Just Go Right
A Juggler’s Tale is a beautiful game, for sure. Despite its initial similarity to other games, its originality and sheer charm make it stand out. The audio and graphics combine so well with the narrative throughout, and I found myself needing to just keep on playing. Games in this vein can often feel like an anticlimax when you finish, but with A Juggler’s Tale the developers do a good job of wrapping up the narrative and allowing you to enjoy the characters’ eventual redemption and happiness.
A Juggler’s Tale is not a long game – around two-to-three hours, depending on how much you get stuck. The price point of £12.99 reflects that perfectly, and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Anyone who likes simple but clever games that have been put together with a tremendous deal of effort and talent will enjoy A Juggler’s Tale.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase A Juggler’s Tale from the Nintendo eShop (UK).
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.