StorytellerSwitch, PC ¦ puzzler
Everyone loves a great story, which is why films, books, theatre etc. are so popular. And certainly one of the most impressive elements of video gaming is being able to immerse yourself in stories, allowing you to take on various roles such as an adventurous plumber, or a cowboy, or even a blue hedgehog.
Storyteller is a beautifully crafted game, that gives you the tools to create various stories within a puzzle format.
When you first start to play, a book is presented to you as it opens, revealing its pages. Within it are chapters, containing four levels. Each level is its own short story, which you have to complete. This involves a number of panels, like a comic strip, that can go up to as many as six. Within each panel you have to place one of the scenarios provided, such as throne, kidnap, gun and witness. Then within that panel, you place characters provided for that appropriate story, such as queen, butler, duke, detective etc.
Each level is given a title, which acts as both a form of clue and direction, for example, Edgar Shocks Himself. Now with the options given to you, you have to execute the story so Edgar does indeed get a shock. So much like a comic book, you have to decide how the story progresses to get you to the conclusion of the tale. For the most part, there is only one ending, so the game will help you get there to a certain extent. For instance, if you put to characters together who don’t belong, one character will show a question mark, which is a clue that this isn’t the correct route for the story to go, which is the puzzle element.
On a few levels, there is an alternative story to follow, which is a great idea, but unfortunately these are very few and far between.
The game is more than that however, as it makes you think about the process of storytelling. For instance, you may be told that someone loses their head, but why? So you have to go through the thought process of why the queen would want this person executed. Because your options are deliberately limited, it’s not an overly taxing process, but it’s wonderfully fun going through various scenes.
And it may look fairly simple in its presentation, with very basic character figures and locales, but it’s wonderfully effective.
And it may have a puzzle element to it, but what it does more than anything is make you think about a structure of a story, and what goes into getting one from the beginning to the end. To that end, it’s a brilliant piece of subliminal education, which can really boost both creativity and imagination for both young and old.
To a certain extent it’s reminiscent of the Scribblenauts games, that dealt with a similar theme, albeit with a more graphic approach. As inventive as that game was, it was a little too open, which could cause frustration. Here though, despite having limited choices, you know there is only one path for the story to go, which makes it easier to focus on it.
It should also be mentioned that the game has a pleasingly subtle soundtrack, featuring some popular classic music, which keeps its distance and provides a comforting background.
There is only one disappointing element to the game and that is its length; it’s sadly more like a short story rather than a pages-packed hardback, and once you can get into the natural rhythm of the game, there’s only a few hours content here. But what there is of it, is just a sheer joy to play.
Also, there’s no real replay value, so once you’ve completed a story, there’s no reason to return to it.
Storyteller is a deceptively simple title, and yet it delivers some hugely entertaining moments, that may well see you becoming quite attached to some characters; we become involved in Edgar’s life, for instance, and we often made him the protagonist of many a story.
Despite its brevity, Storyteller is the perfect love letter to the art of storytelling, that forces you to create various plots in your head so that the story can have its perfect ending. It is charming, witty, lovely to look at, but most importantly it’s hugely creative and imaginative, making you the teller of some highly original stories.