By Jared Cyhowski / June 16th, 2013
Puppeteer is a title that I didn’t really have my eyes on until I played a demo at E3. The trailers that have come out so far didn’t really entice me enough to garner a lot of interest, and the art style, while unique, just didn’t capture my attention. I spent about 30 minutes with Puppeteer and I experienced a full tutorial of the game’s mechanics.
Forgive me for not remembering every detail of the story, for at E3 it is challenging to fully grasp the narrative of every title. The character that you move around is a small puppet named Kutaro who has had his head removed at some kind of a stage show. He’s tossed to the side by the evil Moon Bear King and it was up to me, the player, to move him about and find new heads to try on. I was introduced to a flying cat character that moves around with the right analog stick, and it helps you to find collectables and new heads.
Different heads give the puppet a new ability, and it’s easy to switch on the fly for which head you would like to use. The three heads I was able to use were that of a spider, a skull, and a tasty burger. If you get hit by something in the level you will lose your head, and if you don’t recover it within a few seconds it will vanish forever. I’m not too sure what the spider and skull heads were supposed to do in terms of abilities, but the burger head allowed me to take a simple sandwich in a kitchen level and turn it into a larger burger. Then I was able to use the burger as a spring to jump to a higher platform. I liked this mechanic and I think it will provide a good number of unique experiences within the game.
My favorite part of the Puppeteer demo is the level design. The game is a platformer that features a unique array of landscape that’s also pretty to look at. A lot of this is owed to layered backgrounds and a nicer-looking art style that makes each level stand out. When you enter a new area it’s like you’re looking at a set, and you use the flying cat creature to search different areas of interest on the screen. Then the next part of the level will have traditional platforming, while some sections would combine both exploration and platforming at the same time.
One other mechanic that I enjoyed is how at one point later in the demo you get a pair of scissors to cut cobwebs with. You dive onto the webs and continuously cut, maneuvering around whatever item or keyhole there is to unlock. It’s not a groundbreaking mechanic or anything like that, but I did have fun with it.
While Puppeteer isn’t the best game I played at E3 2013, it certainly proved to me that the trailers I’ve seen for the game didn’t do it justice. I would recommend this title to platforming fans especially, and it seems like a game that’s fairly easy to pick up once you get past its art style. I will say that some people on the show floor were drawing comparisons to Little Big Planet, but I would have to disagree. Sackboy sort of controls in a similar fashion to the puppet character Kutaro, but I enjoyed Puppeteer a bit more than LBP.
Puppeteer will be released on the PlayStation 3 on September 10th, 2013. A Sony representative that I spoke with stated that if the game is popular enough that a PSN release would be considered later on.