Three years prior to the story of Puppeteer, the moon was ruled by a powerful Moon Goddess. It wasn’t long before a tyrant who calls himself The Moon Bear King stole the Goddess’ Black Moonstone and her magic pair of scissors. Whils taking over the Moon’s throne, the King shattered the White Moonstone into 12 pieces of shard and gave them to his 12 generals.
The game features a little boy named Kutaro. Kutaro has his head eaten off which sets up the whole premise of the story. His only hope is in finding a number of heads which will allow him to activate special powers that he wasn’t able to use before in order to dethrone The Moon Bear King.
The thing that surprised me most about Puppeteer is just how amazing the art style for the game is. The creative direction that Sony Japan took on this title just blew my mind from the second that I put the disc in the drive. The game tries to replicate a puppet show and does so through the constant change up of backdrops which are framed by a curtain runner.
The animation in this game is another huge step towards pulling off such an enriching experience. Kutaro’s movement is constantly followed by a spotlight and sound effects from the crowd are present which add to an even more believable world.
The character design is also some of the most imaginative that i’ve ever seen in a video game and more out there than anything we’ve ever seen from a Sony Studio game. Kutaro himself resembles Sackboy a little which is a good thing. The enemies themselves vary greatly and it was a genuine joy to see what I was going to come up against next. The voiceovers are done well and sound effects in general are never annoying.
At it’s heart, Puppeteer is a classic 2D side-scrolling platformer. We’ve seen a huge resurgence of these as of late but thankfully Puppeteer does a lot to go above the pack. The left analog stick moves Kutaro around the screen whilst the right analog stick moves his companion. You’ll be using the R2 button a lot in order to reveal hidden objects within a level.
As we mentioned earlier, Kutaro had is head eaten off which leads to the most unique gameplay aspect of Puppeteer. As you traverse through Puppeteer’s magical stages, you will find new heads for Kutaro to wear. Each of these heads are used in certain parts of the level in order to reveal secret passages. You can carry up to three heads at a time and they also act as your life meter. When you take damage you will lose the head your currently wearing. You then have a few seconds to regain it or it will be gone.
The platforming can feel a little floaty. If you didn’t like Little Big Planet then chances are you won’t love the platforming in this title. It wasn’t an issue for me and i’d recommend trying it for the story and art style alone. There are also a lot of cutscenes but the story is good enough that you’ll want to watch them.
You will also unlocked special abilities throughout the course of the game. These range from things like a shield to a body slam. Fairly early on in the game you’ll unlock the ability that you’ll use most, the Calibrus. This is a pair of magical scissors that allow you to cut through pieces of the set in order to access new parts of the level.
The worlds of Puppeteer doesn’t stray too far from what you’ d expect. There is Snow, Forest with a few more unexpected additions. The main thing that this game has going for it is the fact that it never really gets repetitive. The great art design and introduction of new concepts and enemies really keeps the game interesting from start to finish. There are a lot of set pieces in the game but once again these just keep the game feel fresh. The boss battles are also exceptionable both in the way they look and also in their intensity.
Puppeteer also lets a second player join in. As the second player you are able to control his sidekick. You can also play the game with the Move controller and in 3D. Whilst these are things most people will probably not use, it was great to see them added for those who want it.
Puppeteer is one of the best games this year that will sadly be overlooked by games with bigger marketing budgets. The art style, story and exceptional platforming makes it a game that anyone and everybody who owns a PS3 should pickup. It is also a budget title so there really isn’t any excuse. Take a break from all the heavy hitters that are releasing at the moment and do yourself a favour by playing this game.