๐Ÿคก A Juggler’s Tale | Review | Xbox | 7/10 | "Well-presented with some strings attached" ๐Ÿคก @ajugglerstale #GameDev #IndioeGames

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The 2.5D platformer genre is one that I’m often attracted to, whether it’s something along the lines of Shadow Complex or more akin to Inside or even something that leans towards more of a hack-and-slash affair, there’s something about the distant expanse that paints the picture of a rich and full world - yet tied to streamlined, linear gameplay. The presentation of A Juggler’s Tale is very much a highlight, as is the audio work. It’s in the mechanics and controls that the splinters begin to appear.

Presented through the medium of a puppet show narrated by a seemingly benevolent narrator, the player takes the role of Abby, a juggling puppet that performs an act in a travelling circus but is treated as a slave at the end of the show by the shadowy ringmaster. One night, Abby slips out of her cage and seeks her freedom in the wider world, crossing various environmental hazards as well as avoiding the ringmaster’s goons – and all the while remaining stoically silent to the narrator’s shifting tone…

With a fitting musical score, rich voice work from the narrator and some genuinely beautiful moments in terms of the background environmental art, A Juggler’s Tale makes a solid first impression. There were moments where I would pose in the centre of fields or on hills and take a snap as the visuals can really be evocative in this game. Whilst it’s only a few hours long, I was drawn in by the aesthetics and simple mechanics for the first hour but as I spent more time with the game, the niggles in the gameplay began to add up somewhat.

The controls themselves are extremely simple with only two buttons required, jump and interact. Whilst there are some sections that require slightly more complicated interaction – such as throwing items and turning wheels – these are all tied to the right thumbstick. What I found – as the game progressed – was that they began to feel more cumbersome and not as tight as I’d like.

I would also recommend changing the colour of interactable icons as the pre-chosen red doesn’t stand out and so blue is a much more practical colour as it doesn’t pop us as much in the mostly nature-coloured stages. There were other issues such as the narrator occasionally making statements that didn’t match up to my actions and some visual glitches but these weren’t too pressing. The mechanic that you are actually a puppet and so your strings can get caught in the environment is a nice touch – as it lays the foundation for the majority of the puzzles. I am also a fan of how much ground it feels like Abby covers, the beauty of the 2.5D platformer!

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