The wii u is finally starting to truck along and getting some really great games released for it, making it one of my favourite consoles outside of playing on PC, so I am always happy to see another 3rd party game gets released, as so far it’s a pretty 1st party machine. will be released and a co-op game too, without having to worry about online interaction, great!
So what is Shadow Puppeteer? Well a 2D/3D puzzle platform game, depending on who you play as.
If you choose to play as a shadow, you get to play a 2D platformer as you roam around walls, pick up objects and bounce around shadows. If you play as the…person… Human kid thing, you have a 3D platformer instead. Now I know puzzle games are not always great or well received, mostly because of repetitive puzzles, or hand holding when anything remotely new is thrown at you, Shadow Puppeteer is pretty different in that regard as it never once felt patronising when learning the mechanics.
Those mechanics is running, jumping and picking up objects, though thankfully isn’t your standard physic puzzle affair, you are tied to your shadow that has been ripped from your body, and you need to help it, the other player, as it helps you around the levels.
The shadow mechanic was really great too, again going back to the limited tutorials it was really fun finding out about everything that works for the game. There really is something to be enjoyed about a game NOT holding your hand for a puzzle, and then using it repeatedly again and again after it lost all of its meaning.
Here you get some puzzles that you just find out about, you need to get on that ledge? Well shadow you can pick up the shadow, and the actual object will move along with you, just before you needed to cast its shadow as a ledge. One that really got me excited was a column of smoke was blocking the way for my shadow, due to its own shadow, annoying, but quickly remedied by blocking it with my body, only to accidentally find out that if you are still on top of the columns shadow, you are quickly pushed upwards to some secret areas. There has to be something to be said for puzzles in a game without hand holding, especially when you don’t get forced to do the same puzzle again and again as in other games, here it feels fresh and the time between another, similar puzzle feels just right.
Puzzle length and difficulty was about right, sometimes early on though some of the longer puzzles did become a little frustrating, the speed of which you can run with certain items felt a tad too slow. But every time I failed the puzzle I knew I had done something wrong, I couldn’t blame the game that I fell down that drop or jump again, I could only blame myself, which at least helps me enjoy the game a little more.
The story is shown through a series of cut scenes, where a rather creepy man with a music box steals all the shadows of a village, if your shadow goes too far you die so…he just casually committed mass genocide or something, that’s a great way to start a game off. I would like to point out at this point that the cut scene of the main character at the start of the game, I found this really creepy as the main character has no mouth. I don’t know why, it reminded me of that scene from the matrix, and really, really creeped me out, and I just don’t like it, so I play as the shadow. My co-op buddy also pointed out that the shadow looks somewhat like a fox due to the hair of the character, not sure if that is true and is leaning on Japanese culture, but throwing that out their also.
Graphically the game is quite nice, with very gothic themed levels and surroundings, I got a massive Medieval vibe from the PS1 era, how all the levels are not really cluttered, and more on the sparse side, how the real work actually is and I quite liked it. Level designs were all simple even after the first part of the game and whilst I didn’t get on much with the music, really thought the graphics helped the game a lot.
One thing I didn’t like, and probably my only problem with the game was loading times, I was using a digital version of the game and the levels are not that long either, lasting mostly 5-6 minutes at a time, so I wasn’t expecting 30-40 second loading time between levels, and sort of made it a little frustrating to progress through the game, and I hope this is something that can be fixed post release.
Shadow Puppeteer is a really good game, but it should be known that it is not for everyone, if you don’t have someone to play with, this game isn’t for you. If you want something that you and a friend, or even better something to convince a friend or partner to get into gaming, this is a perfect game for you. Its relaxing and easy to get into, with a difficulty curve that is forgiving enough to enjoy over time. Grab a friend and enjoy great puzzle platformer, and enjoy some of the more tricky levels together, 9/10.