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Review: Shadow Puppeteer

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The worst of both worlds

Shadow Puppeteer; a game that takes the shadow-manipulation mechanics of Contrast and the dual character control of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and wraps them in a Tim Burton aesthetic… and doesn't do any one of those things well enough to produce a cohesive end product. The game aims high, but ends up a bland mix of gimmicks that never becomes a compelling whole.

I like the raw ingredients, but I could not stomach the end result.

Shadow Puppeteer (PC, Wii U [Reviewed])
Developer: Sarepta Studio
Publisher: Snow Cannon Games
Released: January 28, 2016
MSRP: $14.99

Shadow Puppeteer is a puzzle-platformer about a young boy whose body and shadow become severed by an evil figure, and their quest to become one again. You use one analogue stick to move the child in 3D space, while using the other stick to control his shadow on a 2D plane.

The boy can move items around, altering the locations of shadows, and can pass through obstacles like smoke that cast a solid shadow, blocking movement for the shadow child.

The first thing to note about Shadow Puppeteer is its lack of technical polish. Cutscenes have visible compression artifacting, the menus are poorly produced, every move to another small environment involves a lengthy loading screen and the beautiful art style is let down by the quality of the in-game models when compared to the visual design of the cutscenes. In short, it looks and feels very rough around the edges.

While playing Shadow Puppeteer, I couldn't help but compare it to Contrast and Brothers, the two games whose mechanics it poorly mimics. Where Brothers' use of dual character control felt seamless and responsive, SP frequently felt loose, unresponsive, and fiddly.

Where the shadow manipulation puzzles in Contrast were thematically tied and provided impressive visual spectacle upon completion, those in Shadow Puppeteer often felt basic, simplified, and unconnected to the world of the narrative.

Oh, and the game is terrible at proper checkpointing. There were times where I died, had to replay multiple rooms, each with a load time between them, and re-watch a cutscene to return to making progress. This did not feel challenging; it just felt tedious.

Shadow Puppeteer tries to do interesting things, but ultimately comes off as unpolished, bland, repetitive, and mediocre. I really tried to enjoy it, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about it.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Shadow Puppeteer reviewed by Laura Kate Dale

5

MEDIOCRE

An exercise in apathy, neither solid nor liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.
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Laura Kate Dale
Laura Kate DaleFormer Queen of England   gamer profile

Laura's gaming journey began in the 90′s when she was given a SNES by her older brother with Mario paint. From that day video games were all she thought about day or night, be it playing them, ... more + disclosures


 


 


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