Storyteller is a narrative puzzle game developed by Daniel Benmergui.
The goal is to craft a story and reach the listed conclusion-ranging from simple stories of folks falling in love to more complex narratives like a person getting revenge on their uncle-using the limited scenes, characters, interactions, and panel amount provided within each story. Creating connections and context between characters and panels is a key element to solving the puzzle. You can’t put anyone in a room with a gun and they’ll be ready to use it. You need to motivate them to pick up the gun and use it on who you want.
Every element of the narrative is fluid, allowing you to change or rearrange scenes and characters at any time. The timeline is dynamic, so changes made in earlier panels automatically apply to panels after them. For example, if you kill someone in panel two, that character will be a ghost in all future panels. Where you place characters in the scene sometimes matters, like who is near the edge of a cliff and who is behind them.
Not all characters are blank slates. Some characters have established love interests or rivals, which you can discover by experimenting. Some characters also have personalities. For example, when a character is sad, they might drink poison if they’re in a room with it, while another will use it to poison the person who upset them. You’ll learn how different characters react by experimenting, and you can use that information when those characters show up in later puzzles. While characterizations are true across multiple puzzles, each level is self-contained. So a dead character from the last level will be alive.
The puzzle structures are more rigid than I expected: acting like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces need to fit in a particular way rather than an experimental puzzle where you’re given an assortment of tools and expected to figure it out. While I would have liked the latter more, some puzzles also have alternative solutions, such as picking which partner survives a tragedy or which monster dies in a fight.
The visuals are delightful, with minor gestures and short sound effects selling a character’s mood or intentions. The music is soothing, working well to steady nerves as the later puzzles increase in challenge.
I had a few issues like being sure I met all the criteria but not completing the level and not being able to figure out a few puzzles, but the overwhelming majority of my time was spent enjoying it.
While short enough to mostly complete in two-and-a-half hours, Storyteller is a fun puzzle game with unique ideas I want to see expanded upon in a sequel or have other games put their own spin on the narrative puzzle formula.
Storyteller is available March 23 for $14.99 on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Storyteller.