Have to know

What’s it? The ultimate type of a 2008 browser game about telling tales to resolve puzzles.

Anticipate to pay: TBA (the Change model is £12.49)

Launch date: March 23, 2023

Developer: Daniel Benmergui

Writer: Annapurna Interactive

Reviewed on: RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM

Multiplayer? No

Hyperlink: Official site

Storyteller serves up conundrums drawn from time-honoured narrative constructions and tropes. As a teller of tall tales, you are tasked with mucking round with these story skeletons to see what sticks, letting you drop in characters and ideas till you’ve got crafted a narrative that matches the title of every puzzle. 

In Storyteller’s comic-strip world, any story will be instructed in three to 6 panels, eight at a stretch, and it is your job to determine how. Maybe the title is Eve Dies Heartbroken, for instance, and also you’re handed two scene varieties to play with, a marriage and a graveyard, and two characters, Adam and Eve. Place the marriage scene, then drop Adam and Eve into it, they usually fall in love. Place the graveyard on the following panel and Adam on the tombstone, and he is useless. Place Eve subsequent to the grave and, yep, she’s heartbroken. Now all that is left for panel three is for Eve to kick the bucket.

(Picture credit score: Daniel Benmergui)

From that fundamental starting, the tales turn out to be extra convoluted, crafty and farcical. What in case you place a 3rd character in a marriage scene with somebody who’s already hitched, as an example? Effectively, the married social gathering will reject their new suitor, leaving them both heartbroken or scorned. At the least that’s till later puzzles introduce an affair scene, wherein case you’ll be able to flip stated partner right into a cheat, and even have one other character hiding within the close by bushes to witness the illicit tryst.

Tragicomic tribulations 

Love, betrayal and jealousy gasoline many of those tales, in fact, just because they’re such timeless themes, and Storyteller takes you on a whistle-stop tour of fiction, from fairy tales to detective tales, Shakespearean tragedy to gothic horror. But on the identical time it performs with conventional expectations, with pleasingly versatile outcomes. Whereas every character has sure wishes or traits—the baron within the chivalry tales, as an example, schemes to usurp the throne—roles can usually be reversed. So, in a traditional love triangle situation, why should not the 2 ladies get married and stay fortunately ever after?

This flexibility additionally permits Storyteller to jiggle its comedy muscle groups by spiralling into foolish ‘what ifs’, just like the courtly romance entitled Everybody Rejects Edgar, where the hapless hero desperately tries his luck with anybody he can discover, solely to be taught they’re already spoken for. This willingness to indulge the extremes of established setups equally revels in mixing revered classics like Austen with soapy trash, like in a story where Edgar dies (poor Edgar) leaving his spouse Lenora behind, solely to return again to life and discover she’s already wedded Isobel.

(Picture credit score: Daniel Benmergui)

The enjoyment of Storyteller will not be merely in its options, nonetheless, however the course of itself. Usually, that you must assume backwards from the ending you are making an attempt to attain, asking your self, say, what would make Isobel wish to poison Edgar when there is no preliminary animosity between them? In some instances, the options contain cautious manipulation of the items, contemplating what every character is aware of and feels about one another, and how one can change their minds. It is to the game’s credit score right here that it virtually at all times maintains a good logic, where intention and impact are clear.

Higher nonetheless, due to that logic, typically probably the most enjoyable you’ll be able to have is to take pleasure in pure trial and error. Storyteller is humorous by design, but among the deepest chuckles it induces emerge as unintended effects of experiments gone incorrect. The fantastic thing about its system is that merely swapping the order of scenes or exchanging one character for one more might have unexpected knock-on results, like a model of the Frog Princess story which ends in two frogs snogging, or a tragedy wherein a heartbroken Lenora drinks poison and dies, then resurrects, realises she’s nonetheless heartbroken and downs one other bottle of arsenic.

The opposite motive such moments land so effectively is the game’s pitch-perfect visuals and interface. Plot constructing in Storyteller is merely a matter of dragging and dropping, and the second you plop a personality right into a scene, they react with out blinking, whether or not meaning immediately falling in love with whoever’s dealing with them, or pushing them off a cliff. Or watch how the harmless assertion “I’m your mom” abruptly turns into a shock revelation once you move the items round within the game’s hilarious tackle Oedipus Rex.

Quick story

(Picture credit score: Daniel Benmergui)

So pleasurable are Storyteller’s constructing blocks to play with, actually, that you could be end up wolfing it down in a single sitting. Fixing all 51 puzzles, plus some bonus targets which ask you to achieve sure conclusions in several methods, takes round two hours, after which there’s not a lot left to do than shut the e-book. Nonetheless, in case you’re on board with the notion of a game that serves up an enthralling 120 minutes earlier than calling it quits, you will have no complaints.

Besides, it’s arduous to not really feel just a little underwhelmed when the credit roll, even accepting what number of years it is taken developer Daniel Benmergui to make it work so fantastically and persistently. Partially that is as a result of some ideas are left under-explored, just like the monsters chapter that introduces vampire and werewolf characters and their specific modes of behaviour, then shuffles them offstage once more after a few tales. However greater than mere amount, the problem is that Storyteller would not actually construct to something climactic or profound. It simply stops.

Positive, its inventive programs do provide up a number of fascinating concepts to chew on, akin to what makes a narrative work or fall flat, or how tales can subvert apparently forged iron guidelines. However these themes are seen within the first ten minutes, as they have been in final yr’s demo, and do not kick on as you advance. In distinction, different transient puzzle video games like Gorogoa or Unpacking do not feel minimize brief as a result of they arc in the direction of a conclusion, which Storyteller by no means does. For all of the core genius of this game about telling tales, then, and the exact execution, the one factor it is lacking is a narrative to inform of its personal.