A Juggler’s Tale by kaleidoscube
Puppets have always been a pretty apt metaphor for video game characters, given the nature of the medium. However, the actual number of games that use them as a direct theme is actually quite small. So it is that A Juggler’s Tale provides a novel, whimsical aesthetic take on the gameplay of indie darlings like INSIDE. The question is, is it just going through the motions?
I’m a Marionette
An unseen puppeteer begins his show in a cozy tavern, quickly introducing us to our hero: Abby. Abby is a circus juggler who dreams of escaping her life into the great wide world, seizing an opportunity one night. What follows is her tale of adventure as she flees her captors, but who those captors actually are may not be as clear as she thinks…
To describe any more of A Juggler’s Tale’s story would be to get into spoiler territory, and since this is a story worth experiencing I won’t be doing that. What I will say is that it takes its core themes in some very interesting directions, and I was pleasantly surprised by how mature the story ended up being.
Gameplay-wise, A Juggler’s Tale will feel very familiar to anyone who’s played a recent puzzle-platformer. You have Abby explore by running, jumping, pushing objects, and using her trained throwing arm to interact with the environment. There are puzzles to solve, stealth segments to sneak through, and quick platforming decisions to make. It’s nothing new, but it contributes to the game’s cozy feeling. If I had a gripe, it’s that the platforming could stand to be more precise.
What does elevate the game, though, is its stunning production. The world looks like a diorama brought to life, with simple landscapes accentuated by gorgeous lighting and weather effects. Equally beautiful is the game’s soundtrack, which sounds lush and cinematic.
One unfortunate mixed bag, though, is the narrator central to the game’s story. While his voice acting is solid, this is a German game translated into English, and this results in an uneven script. Most noticeably, the narration’s rhyming scheme is dropped repeatedly. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it happens frequently enough to become grating. That said, the game would definitely be a lesser experience without it.
Another thing that may be a problem for some is that A Juggler’s Tale is quite short. It’s easily beaten in a single sitting, with some extra time to unlock the achievements should you wish. It does maintain a great pace as a result and never feels padded, but I understand reluctance to spend nearly $20 on such a short experience. Personally, I think it more than earns its asking price.
Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed my time with A Juggler’s Tale and recommend it to fans of adventure platformers. It’s brimming with charm and warmth and will keep you engaged right up until the final curtain call.
A Juggler’s Tale is available via the Nintendo Game Story, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.
Watch the trailer for A Juggler’s Tale below: