I can’t resist a good cinematic platformer, and A Juggler’s Tale is one such game. What keeps it from its size is its simplicity and its cost relative to the amount of gameplay. But if you’re an enthusiast for games like this, this should definitely be on your wish list.
You play as Abby, a puppet who is fleeing the circus. It is a medieval fairy tale within a fairy tale as the story is framed by a doll’s house in a tavern. The full voice speaker is a plus and the plot is just as much of him as it is of Abby.
There are more puzzles than action here, although some parts have to be nimble. Since Abby is connected with threads, this results in a puzzle platform of its own. Still, A Juggler’s Tale is easy. This is beneficial in a way as it limits the double-digit loading times after a failure. But something is wrong in other ways.
I don’t mind, simple, but it seems like the game seems to take over unexpectedly at times. I understand that we control a character that is controlled by someone else. Sometimes this lack of control makes sense. But there has been more than one occasion when I can’t get rid of the feeling of taking over the game to get around a puzzle I couldn’t solve quickly enough. It is either a sub-par implementation of a good idea or a bad impression of conscious design. In any case, I find it worth mentioning, even if I cannot articulate my thoughts very well. It’s a little noticeable with a controller in hand.
The ease means that I saw the credits in just over two leisurely hours. If I had spent $ 17.99 on such a brief experience, I would be disappointed. I wish there was some sort of repetitive incentive to make the short length easier to swallow. I have some ideas on how this could have been achieved, but sharing them would reveal the end of the game.
As short as it is, A Juggler’s Tale is great fun while it lasts. The visuals convey a strong sense of space, with a world that appears huge, even when stuck on a linear path. Colors, lighting, weather effects and more all combine to make a pretty presentation that made me pause more than once to take it all in. An autumn release, I especially like the scenes that play with the autumn leaves. Only certain disturbing scenes (with bodies hanging from trees) make me think this game is closer to a teen rating than an E10 +, but that is on the ESRB.
I also appreciate the tone, especially the settings. This allowed me to turn down the folk music (not my thing and limited anyway) and at the same time increase the volume for ambient noise and narration. The narrator who speaks in rhymes is a cliché at this point that a sequel could (and should) easily dispel. But despite these limitations, the story never gets boring of what already says something.
A Juggler’s Tale is a polished title that offers a smooth flow of the game that is over too quickly for its introductory price. Everyone can appreciate the visual presentation and spoken story. In the meantime, enthusiasts will enjoy the mix of puzzles (albeit simple ones) and action. It’s a unique game in many ways that makes an impact. But it also makes you want more. I hope to cheer Abby on in a sequel, the price of which better suits its length.