Today’s gaming options leave players rather spoilt for choice when it comes to delving into rich worlds, seemingly endless landscapes, and complex narratives. It is a great time to be a gamer, but it can be rather exhausting too, since each game can feel like a commitment of tens (sometimes hundreds) of hours. Storyteller, developed by Daniel Benmergui and published by Annapurna Interactive, is not one of those games. Taking about 3 hours to complete, the puzzler provides an escape from the latest blockbuster epic whilst letting you bask in narrative at its simplest.
Storyteller is a puzzle game where the puzzle itself is the story – with the title of each level a premise you must fulfil. It is your job to select the right scenes, characters and sequences that will yield the outcome desired. It is a neat idea and well constructed – feeling more like playing with a responsive dollhouse than a static puzzler. Each character you place in a scene, they will instantly respond – and if you reorder the scenes, characters behaviour will change with it. As a result, the puzzles feel alive, a paean to the art of storytelling.
There are 51 stages, grouped into themed chapters that can largely be played in any order. Some levels are easy, but others can be fiendishly tricky. What often drives the difficulty is the number of frames in which to solve the puzzle increases, with additional scene possibilities and characters to juggle alongside. If you get stuck, you can jump to the next puzzle – which keeps the experience feeling relaxed. The game also doesn’t need to be played all at once, so players can dip in and out.
On the Nintendo Switch, gameplay utilises the touchpad in handheld mode, which is more intuitive and satisfying than the traditional control scheme. You can easily drag, drop and place elements without having to recall which button does what. Sometimes the spell of the game is broken when characters follow rigid behaviour patterns such that getting the desired outcome feels more like solving an equation than solving a puzzle, but this only becomes most apparent in the hardest of puzzles. But even when that happens, it makes solving them feel all the sweeter.
Storyteller is an interesting mix between the feeling of inventing stories with action figures as a kid and a refreshing little brain stretcher – it isn’t overly complex, but this simple puzzle game knows what it is, and does it with a lot of inventiveness and charm.
Storyteller is available now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed) and PC. Review code provided by Annapurna Interactive.