A very entertaining and beautiful puzzle adventure game, but solutions are a little obvious and game time could be longer.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Puzzle, Platform
Developer: kaleidoscube
Publisher: Mixtvision
Release date: 29 Sep, 2021

🎬Intro🎬

A Juggler’s Tale is a charming fairy tale adventure with puzzle and platform elements.

Abby, is being held hostage. Confined in a cage, she is only released to perform circus tricks for scraps of food. The ring master is mean and domineering, and her life is tedious and unfulfilled.

All she wants to do is break free from her prison and see the world.

One day the opportunity arises and Abby escapes, but the ringmaster won’t let his cash cow escape so easily, and enlists the help of Tonda and his gang to track her down.

Abby must run for her life, navigating rough terrain and solving puzzles to progress.

🕹️Gameplay🕹️

🎭All the World’S a Stage🎭

A Juggler’s Tale is cleverly presented as a stage play.

The stage curtains open and we are introduced to Abby, the leading lady of the show.

The characters in A Juggler’s Tale

All members of the cast are puppets and are controlled by the strings that hold them up. We watch as events unfold on stage. There are five acts of the play, with chapters in each act that can be accessed after the game to easily pick up any achievements you might have missed. The game should take between three and four hours to complete.

🎮Controls🎮

Controlling Abby, your movement is restricted by her strings. She is unable to pass objects that are in the way of her thread like shackles. To pass, she must find a way to circumvent these obstacles.

Abby cannot continue without working out a way past this obstacle.

Engaging like a 2D platform experience, the characters and the environments have 3D elements. Abby is able to jump, climb, push and pull objects, as well as swinging on ropes and throwing projectiles. All these attributes will be used in solving puzzles and navigating the landscapes.

Pushing and Pulling Objects Allows Abby to Reach Higher Ground.
Throwing Rocks or Objects is Useful in Solving Some Puzzles as well as Some Achievements.

There is quite a lot of stealth involved whilst trying to escape the clutches of the Ringmaster and Tolda’s gang. Avoiding searchlights is a common occurrence, and thinking up ways to distract and disable enemies is a popular puzzle choice.

Avoiding the lights of the Gang is Important if you don’t want to be Captured.

A Juggler’s Tale is one long run for freedom and there are sequences where you have to use your platforming skills to evade the chasing pack. Jumping up rocks, climbing ladders and solving puzzles under pressure of capture can occur.

🧩Boss Fights🧩

There are a few, what you would call, boss fights in the game. They usually involve Tolda as he hunts you down, but instead of combat, you must defeat him by solving puzzles and tricking him into submission.

Tolda and his Gang are always on the Lookout for You.

📕the Story Teller📕

The Rhyming Verse Plays a Huge Part in Telling the Story.

There are quiet moments of reflection and contemplation, along with some words of wisdom from the narrator.

The story teller acts like a friend, or even a father figure, offering Abby clues, and sometimes even lifesaving assistance by reaching for her strings and saving her from death.

As you travel through the different environments, the narrator talks in rhymes, describing the scene, her predicament, and the likely outcome.

It is very reminiscent of a fairy tale storybook being read out as you play.

However, The Verse Doesn’t Always Work Well.

📺Graphics📺

The visuals are a treat. They feel quite gothic in style with some stereotypical fairy tale evil. The landscapes are colorful and detailed and look absolutely gorgeous.

The strings on the characters are very well done and look very effective and I love the stage aesthetics that drive the story.

🎵Sound🎵

There are some absolutely beautiful soundtracks throughout the game, which give an amazing whimsical feel to proceedings.

Sound effects are impressive also with some noticeable environmental sounds like insects in the grass and weather effects.

The narrator’s voice can lose a bit of traction now and again but the way they have managed to tell the story through rhymes was admirable.

🤔Overall Impressions🤔

It’s easy to fall for the charms of A Juggler’s Tale. It felt very polished and considered. Behind the cute fairy tale façade lied quite a dark tale of confinement and control, and the need to break free. As with all fairy tales, there are heroes and villains, and the characters in this play are very compelling.

The Tale Can Be Quite Gothic In Places.

I loved the style of narration, even if the rhymes felt a little forced sometimes, I was still impressed with how the story was told in an effective manner. I thought the narrator struggled sometimes to keep in character but he grows on you and becomes a comforting voice in the end. The only issue I had with the game was its repeating text when dying in tricky situations. It can become slightly frustrating hearing the same verse over and over again. I wish the game would learn to omit this.

The puzzles are quite imaginative and woven into the story very well. They are quite varied with stealth sections, platforming, boss fights and various situations to escape from. The only downside is that although they feel original, they are reasonably easy to solve. The puzzle designs are so realistic and practical that it becomes a case of trying different things until you get that Eureka moment. Sometimes, it is plainly obvious what direction to take whilst other times it took me longer. I never felt that I struggled on any of the puzzles though.

The game has a habit of helping you out too much. If you are short on a jump, the game will correct your shortfall, if you ponder too long, the narrator will throw a clue your way. The experience is absolutely frustration free and I loved that.

Abby Showing Off Her Acrobatic Skills, But There is No Danger of Falling.

I kept thinking to myself that this would be a wonderful and challenging experience for children, but perhaps a little too easy for adults.

The pacing of the game is masterful with slow, poignant moments, interspersed with frantic chases and dramatic scenes. I absolutely loved the ending.

🍳Verdict🍳

A Juggler’s Tale is a weird and fanciful gothic tale full of interesting characters and magic moments.

The visuals and sound are a feast for the senses, along with its unusual story telling presentation, the game feels original and fresh.

The puzzles are imaginative but they are a little obvious, and although the game is very entertaining it is over rather quickly.

Written by
Janner
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