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Storyteller review

Storyteller Review

Do you like stories? What about ones that you create yourself?

Storyteller is the latest game to be published by Annapurna Interactive, landing this week on Switch and PC. It’s a puzzle game, but one that’s all about building narratives. You see, each short level of the game will give you a story prompt, and a number of scenes and characters to place in storyboard cells. You’ll need to figure out how to answer the prompt by arranging the scenes and characters in just the right way. It can be trickier than it sounds.

For example, you might have to figure out how to get a murderous butler arrested: that means catching him in the act, telling a detective what you’ve seen, then putting the detective in a position where he can safely confront the butler. Another might task you with having a queen kidnapped then rescued, or curing someone of vampirism.

A lot of the story tropes in Storyteller are old-fashioned and tried-and-tested: recurring themes are handsome princes, ugly witches and star-struck lovers. It works: with eight or less story cells to complete a narrative, Storyteller‘s stories need to be simple at their core with instantly familiar characters. Using fairy tales and classic tales works perfectly here, and they’re recycled in a fun and interesting way.

Related: The Best Relaxing Games on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, Storyteller isn’t the longest game: we’ve got through everything it has to offer in less than two hours. Your own mileage may vary a bit, depending how easy you find its puzzles. Most of them we’ve powered through, with only a spot of trial and error required on the toughest levels. One or two had us stumped for a little while before the solution suddenly clicked. And with the same themes and characters used again, levels can feel a little samey.

Storyteller review

It is clever, though. Some of the solutions made us smile when we finally figured them out, and there’s a lot of delicious debauchery throughout Storyteller‘s brief stories. Get ready to kidnap queens, poison princesses and dress the villain up as a dragon to fool royalty. While a prompt of ‘The Queen Marries’ sounds fairly innocuous, when you realise your only available prompts involve the villain and kidnapping, the story becomes a lot more fun. (The villain needs to don a dragon disguise, kidnap the queen, then rescue the queen without his disguise to win her heart, if you’re interested.)

A handful of Storyteller‘s levels have multiple solutions to extend its gameplay somewhat. There’s not always just one straight-cut solution, and the story prompt of each level could be answered in multiple ways. Some levels, once you’ve completed them, will give you a second prompt in order to find another solution. Maybe you need to get the queen to marry the dragon instead of the villain, for example.

The animations here are great, too, and the way that character reactions change along the storyboard depending on the actions that come before them are wonderful. Get the prince killed, and he’ll appear as a ghost if you place him in any subsequent cells. Or slot in a scene of him catching the princess cheating on him, and he might not be quite so loving to her in future scenes. Characters are simply drawn, but it works very well for the style of the game, which is, surprisingly enough, presented as a book, with each level being a double-page spread.

Although it’s short and some of its levels may feel a little repetitive, we can’t help but like Storyteller. It’s not going to set your world on fire, but the two-or-so hours you spend with it, working through its levels, will provide you with plenty of challenge – and just as many smiles. It’s an innovative concept, and we’d love to see it expanded upon in future releases.

Storyteller Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Storyteller is based on the PC version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC and Switch.

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