Sunday, July 14, 2013

Puppeteer "Rehearsal" Demo - Impressions


This week the first of demos for the upcoming Puppeteer (PS3) was released onto the Japanese Playstation Network. This demo is called the "Rehearsal" demo because it is not the actual "full-game" demo. It's a demo that is used to introduce the controls and overall game-mechanic of Puppeteer, which is a pair of magic scissors (named Calibrus) that the player uses to cut through the world. These scissors serve primarily as a means of traveling where, when cutting through objects such as flags or clouds, it instills a motion similar to "clawing" across it (but at a brisk, satisfying pace). Inside this brief, five-minute demo you make your way up to the top of a tower while simultaneously cutting it and destroying it.
And at the end of it I really wished there were more, as this game is looking to be great.
Cut 'Em Down!
This is the primary way of travel; essentially, these bats are a ladder
Unfortunately I do not understand Japanese, and so the stunning introduction video, which shows off the game's bosses as well as gives what I believe is an overall introduction to the story, as well as the large amount of dialogue that runs throughout while you play, I did not understand, and so whether or not it reveals anything or strengthens the experience is beyond me. Still, the video, and characters, and overall "mood" of the thing was simply sensational, and really delivers this overtly charming experience of being inside of this comically-dark children's story and performance, and throughout the whole demo the same quality and attention to detail was displayed with equal strength in-game as it was inside of the video.
Again, it's a short, five-minute demo, but it does grant a bit of mobility. As a platformer Puppeteer seems to bear physics akin to traditional Mario titles, which is that it is much tighter than the floaty-ness of the Little Big Planet series, but certainly not as tight as in Mutant Mudds. You are limited to a single jump (in the demo at least), but unfortunately there is very little to try the base-platforming out on here. Instead, the focus is fully on Calibrus, the magic scissors.
The Glowing Strand Here Allows you to Cut through Much Faster: reminded me of Classic Sonic
The Glowing Strand Here Allows you to Cut Through Much Faster: the Speed is of Classic "Sonic" Games
As you progress up the tower you come across a variety of things that you can cut and therefore travel by, from tarps that cascade down from the ceiling to smoke-clouds generated by jackhammers. The tell-tale on whether or not you can cut these things is that interactive things are prominent on the screen, and not of background; it seems loose, as at the jackhammer clouds I was not immediately aware I could cut them, but there is no frustration here, and discovering what can be interacted with seems more a delightful mystery rather than frustrating or obscure.
Cutting is a speedy process of mashing the square button that is accompanied by oddly soothing scissor sounds. Objects bear their own sounds as well when under the blade; tarp fabric tears while spider webs peel and wobble. A lot of detail is also in how these mangled objects fall apart, and each of them display a consistent blend of realistic alongside imaginary in their destruction.
Beyond the basic cutting the demo also offered two unique moments with the scissors, the first being when you come across a tentacle arm shackled into the wall. This brought a button-prompt atop the characters head that required the quick-mashing of the square button; success brought the tentacle slamming out of the wall and offering a new path, but failure did nothing.
The second mechanic actually brought to mind a once beloved series of mine; Sonic the Hedgehog. In the picture above is shown a glowing strand; when you cut into these strands your characters cuts through at an extreme pace and as if on-rails, following the glowing path linearly. In the demo these strands are throughout the top of the tower, and offer really unique pathways of swerves and loops. When one ends abruptly your characters is thrown the air, and slicing into another rail-strand before touching ground offered a really great sensation of speed and control. I could really imagine a lot of uses for these rail-strands and overall I'm pretty excited to see what can be done with them.
No Doubt About It; This Game is Beautiful
No Doubt About It; This Game is Beautiful

Again, this is the "rehearsal" demo, and so there's plenty of Puppeteer not shown here, or is just omitted. For one, the cat you control by the right-stick is totally absent, and as you've only one head there's no experimentation with the aspect of swapping heads and what their uses are. Also strange was that you can't receive game-over here, as at one point there are enemies; get hit and your character's head flies off and you've to chase it and reclaim it. But if it falls off a cliff it is just returned to you, and also you are granted invincibility while headless. Truly, this is just a very basic, clean Tutorial, rather than a game-demo (which is coming).

Overall I loved what I got to play though, and am pretty blown away by just about everything. The art-direction is just charming as can be, the overall graphics/animations simply delightful, and the gameplay is just solid. It's a lot of fun but it's also simple, but never once did I think it "babyish" or dull. Really, this is looking to be just one heck of a genuinely fun videogame, and I am certainly eager to get my hands on the full thing soon.

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