You’ve never seen a puppet show like this before. Sure, The Puppeteer has typical childlike fantasy themes like quests, monsters and a cruel witch, but Puppeteer’s strength relies on its originalities. Fantastical creatures and creative game-play elements make this title a gripping, dark and often hilarious journey back to childhood daydreams that feel both nostalgic, yet brand new.
What makes this side-scrolling, adventure plat-former so appealing is its characters and environments are so far from conventional, it’s delightful. Take the protagonist Kutaro for instance. A puppet, with a clumsy wooden frame reminiscent of Pinocchio’s but with a face that told a much different story then Gepetto’s creation. You see, Kutaro can completely change his head to something, by simply pressing right on the d-pad. And these heads range from the ridiculous to the nonsensical, like a spider, banana, padlock and hamburger head, just to name a few. But be careful not take damage from any of the ghouls, demon toads, or toothed pillars because the first thing to come off is your newly found head. If the player loses Kutaro’s head, a spring becomes exposed telling the player to find the lost head, promptly.
The unlikely hero also wields a magical pair of scissors called Catirus and is accompanied on the quest to find moonstone shards by first a sarcastic flying cat and later a color changing pixie. The dialogue between which is both extremely well voice acted, and charmingly witty. The Puppeteer is a fantasy world in the form of a stage, that’s filled with absolutely bizarre creatures and moments that catch you completely off guard.
And this puppet show stage structure is a great source of the fun to be had in this game. Each “level” is actually a puppet act, and the in-game audience reacts with concerned ooohs and raucous laughter based on the situation. This presentation also allows for some unique perspectives, as some of the puppet characters fly off the stage and into the audience for a cool 3D effect. This theater show atmosphere evokes a sense of showmanship when controlling Kutaro, but at the same time gives the sense of watching a master puppeteer perform his craft.
The game’s whimsical originality doesn’t stem just from it’s weird characters and stylish presentation, but its game-play as well. Where else can you control a head-changing puppet to levitate and fly through obstacles by cutting everything from paper, cloth, leaves and even water streams with your magical scissors? Gaining speed requires you to cut along roped seams that allow you to fly through through the scenery snipping everything in your path. Given that there are enough tapestries or flags in a given scene, Kutaro always has the airborne advantage to conquer foes and unlock more objects to aid him like shields and bombs.
The Puppeteer allows you to be the hero you could never have the creativity to think up, in a rare magical journey filled with twists, unusual dangers and a whole lot of personality.