The Puppeteer seems to riff directly off the Media Molecule game, Little Big Planet, but while it certainly has similar aesthetics and is a platformer, there are quite a bit of a difference between the two games. In what is supposed to be a puppet show, The Puppeteer tells its story with a mix of whimsy and dread. That show seems to be where the game comes together. Between the gorgeous animation, laugh track and snappy narrator, it really does feel that you are watching a twisted form of a puppet show. Even though the game is releasing for the Playstation 3 near the end of its life cycle, it’s one of the more visually pleasing titles the console has seen.
The gameplay is interesting, as it is not a side scrolling platformer, but regardless still a platformer. The entire playing field is presented to the gamer to try and traverse without losing your head. Did I mention that you’re playing a puppet missing a head? Usually you are using someone else’s head that you found off of the ground, but if that gets knocked off, then you have a limited time to recover it before you die — very reminiscent of Kirby in a lot of ways.
Unfortunately, at least from the brief time I played the game, the heads don’t do that much more than unlock special sections of a level. Maybe later in the game they will expand their usefulness to special powers, but they just felt underutilized. Regardless, the platforming is much tighter than Little Big Planet and it is generally just fun to explore the beautiful world the developers created.
Voice acting seems to also be top notch. The narrator, being a mysterious cat, is always commenting on what’s happening on the screen or teaching the player how to play the game. Everyone else in the game plays their role overly exaggerated in perfect puppet show style. Between that and the animations, it really comes together as visually appealing despite being from a smaller studio. You can tell there was a clear vision when designing the game; it’s great.
At one point while demoing the game, I wanted to turn it off to experience the the rest of it fresh. The story seems interesting and even if it doesn’t pan out, the way it presents itself and plays would more than make up for it. The Puppeteer is definitely a game that’s worth putting on your radar that will add one more game to your PS3 collection before packing it away.