Release Date: September 10, 2013 (NA)
Developer: SCE Japan
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The Puppeteer is a game you experience more than you play. It is a decent platformer with great depth but, it is so unique in a lot of ways that you will find yourself just sitting back and enjoying more than the gameplay. The Puppeteer provides a truly memorable experience despite its repetitiveness.
Just saying the title, The Puppeteer, will make you think of a theater setting with, well, puppets. The game places you, the player, along with other virtual audience members, in a puppet theater. A charming and charismatic narrator is there to guide you along from the start. Starting the game will begin the tale of a young boy named Kutaro. The narrator explains that Kutaro is one of the many little boys who have had their souls whisked away to the moon realm whilst sleeping. The culprit is the evil Moonbear King and he not only steals the souls but turns the boys into wooden puppets. This nasty Moonbear King used to be a precious little stuffed bear in possession of the Moon Goddess but turns into a tyrant stealing his master’s Moon Stone shards and a magical pair of scissors called Calibrus. Moonbear King has given the 12 Moonstone shards to his 12 generals and cast the Moon Realm into a terrible evil darkness. The Sun King is nowhere to be found and things don’t look good for the Moon Realm at all.
But as you may have guessed the main character, Kutaro, is a special boy who is worthy to free his souls and the souls of the other unfortunate little boys. Kutaro’s specialty is all in his head….. literally. The evil Moonbear King plucks little Kutaru’s head off at the outset leaving Kutaru to acquire heads in order to stay alive. Instead of hearts, or coins Sonic style, the various heads serve as an energy bar of sorts . During the adventure you will come across a cheeseburger head, skeleton skull, frog, spider, and even a castle head. And that is just a small fraction of the heads you will acquire. You will come across most heads through natural progression but there is a number of them hidden out of plain sight. Movement with the right stick will give you control of a flying sidekick that can assist in manipulating objects in the environment, revealing these hidden heads. Each head has a special little jig/dance that can be activated by pressing down on the D-pad, giving you access to bonus levels.
Heads may serve as a defense of sorts but the magical scissors will give you the attack power you need to battle the baddies. Calibrus, as they are called, will slice and dice not only enemies but various objects in the environment. See a plume of smoke leading up to a platform? Calibrus can be used to cut the smoke upward to the said destination. Does an enemy have a cape that will hurt him when cut? Calibrus has you covered there too. It’s kinda silly in some ways but it’s an ingenuous weapon and I always found its uses to be cool and fresh. Although Kutaru’s tale can be a dark one, it shines in its writing. Listening to commentary from the narrator helped me through the grind of repetitious gameplay that can rear its ugly head. Back and forth between the suspicious witch “helping” Kutaru along and the Sun Princess is equally entertaining. Different lands will bring different characters to the fore to interact with and each have their own peculiar personalities. Time shared with them may be relatively short, but it’s quite memorable. Although gameplay can become tedious, the overall puppet theater vibe keeps things fresh and creates a setting you can get lost in. Traversing through levels range from fun to laborious but the boss battles are what really shine during the quest. Albeit a little frustrating at times, the battles keep you on your toes and usually end with a satisfying QTE “beat down”.
The Puppeteer is a truly unique tale of adventure that adds to the long list of PS3 exclusives. There is a lot to love about the Puppeteer. The adventure is solid, the extras feel worth the effort acquiring them, and the ending will leave you with a warm smile on your face. The Puppeteer has its dull moments but the writing, setting, and humor will make you happy you paid the price for admission.