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Puppeteer Review - Dark, Bizarre, and Fantastically Good

Jonathan Bolding | 6 Sep 2013 20:35
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The game's controls of Kutaro are excellent, though. The rattling, not-quite-fast-enough movement is a throwback to older platformers, which required more precision timing than speed. Alternately, there are rapid speed, twitch segments where you cut through strings of airborne leaves or along seams with Calibrus, the giant scissors. They're really unique, and quite unlike anything else in games right now. Flight by cutting with scissors is a great mechanic, where you can keep going as long as you plan your route and have something to cut. It's like some hybrid of aerial juggling in a beat-em-up and running in a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

All of that praise aside, the game suffers from imperfect design. Difficulty can vary from level-to-level. For example, sometimes falling into a crack means you can make a recovery by wall jumping just so, but sometimes it's permadeath. Sometimes a level wants you to move quickly to proceed, or else you miss your chance and die, but sometimes you have to carefully time each jump. Often, a level jumps between fast and slow play. You'll usually catch the cues to switch between playstyles, though, and it's not game-ruining - but it can be frustrating when you try a level over several times. The game's co-op mode definitely suffers, and the second player - who controls your background-searching cat or princess companion - will get bored long before you do.

Puppeteer really only commits one great sin: Quick Time Events. They are present, and they are just as bad as ever. The QTEs are accompanied by their less-sinful-but-still-awful brother, "Mash Button Over and Over" events. Neither are especially egregious examples of the boring blandness that are QTEs, but they're still bad, boring, trial-and-error gameplay. Plus, they come at the worst time: near the end of otherwise great platformer boss fights. You'll be in the middle of fighting a giant snake, sailing through the sky by cutting through cloth clouds, and suddenly you'll get plunged into a rapid QTE. If you fail it? Back to square one.

Bottom Line: Puppeteer is a game that most might overlook, but it's an inventive, beautiful new world with fantastical ideas.

Recommendation: If you've ever liked platformers, whimsy, or inventive visuals, then this is a game for you. Double if you have kids.

Game: Puppeteer
Genre: Platforming
Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform(s): PS3
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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