Puppeteer Review: a refreshing start to what could be a great PlayStation franchise
- Posted September 10th, 2013 at 12:05 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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The fellows at Sony have created a unique experience in Puppeteer that's deserving of a franchise label. With a little work, the heroic antics of Kutaro and his Excalibur scissors Calibrus can make this cult-following title into a sequel-worthy one.
- Healthy, vast influential combinations
- Calibrus diversifies platforming
- Overzealous narrative is entertaining
- Minimal replay value
- Borderline repetitive gameplay
- Collecting heads: lost opportunity
Above all else, the game's style stood out the most. Featuring a healthy mash-up of Nightmare Before Christmas and LittleBigPlanet, Puppeteer's visuals take on a stance that's as heavily referenced as it is unique. For instance, the Moon Bear King takes similar shape and demeanor from Oogie Boogie, but the setting and circumstance allows him to be more than a copy and paste. Aesthetically, Puppeteer has a lively style that changes with its surroundings incredibly well. Dark, underground zones are designed with claustrophobic care, open landscapes have beautifully rendered maps, and the whole game has a feeling that you're playing with toys as a kid again. This couples well with the fact that the narrative is enriched with adult themes which are interlaced so well beneath the surface of the script that younger kids won't even notice; really, this is a genuine family game, and you can play it with another person.
On one hand, I’ve never played anything quite like Puppeteer before. On the other hand, I’ve seen everything that Puppeteer has to offer, but that’s only because this game pools heavily, and with stellar execution, references and allusions from so many different facets of entertainment that it will be hard for you to not get something from it. The theatrical style might be overbearing for some, but it adds to the genuine, whimsical flare of the game that in itself cannot be mimicked. It might be a while before I return to Kutaro and the realm of Puppeteer, but I will be thinking about it for a long time. Kutaro, the Moon Bear King, and the cast of makeshift half-wits, conniving allies, and hearty companions make this an equal opportunity title accessible to everyone; but, much like any radical new combination, Puppeteer is best taken in small doses. Sony has something franchise-worthy here, and it wouldn't take much effort to improve upon the formula for each installment, making the sky the limit for such an ambition new title.