Alas, Summer Game Fest is now over, and with it go the free demos. Luckily I got to try a fair few whilst they were available, and this is the last one left to review. A Juggler’s Tale is a 2d indie puzzle-platformer that tells the tale of a little circus girl who’s desperate to escape her life of captivity and find her own adventure. I wasn’t overly excited by the trailer, but I enjoy platformers, so I thought it was worth checking out. So, going in with low hopes, here are my first impressions of the A Juggler’s Tale demo.
This was an incredibly short demo, only about 10 minutes long, and that included pausing repeatedly to take notes for this review. However, it gave a good idea of what we could expect from the gameplay. It’s your typical 2d platformer – you can move forwards and backwards, and you can jump. The place where A Juggler’s Tale differs from others is that we have strings attached to us that come down from the ceiling, and our strings can get caught on other objects that are higher than us in our path.
As well as regular movement, we have a couple of other tricks up our sleeves. We can swing from ropes by jumping on to them, and then moving our left analogue stick from side to side. There are also a handful of objects that can be picked up, such as juggling balls. We can then aim to throw them at other objects to solve puzzles. The aiming is incredibly sensitive, and it can be tricky to get your throw to the right position. Even once you find the angle you want, it’s hard to hold it there for long enough to throw. Finally, we can either push or pull certain objects, such as boxes.
My first impressions of the A Juggler’s Tale demo were that the game is very linear, which isn’t particularly surprising for the genre. As such, I don’t see it as too much of a negative, as I was expecting that from the get go. The pacing is pretty slow, however, and I’d have liked if our character moved faster. Having said that, I do love the way she bobs her head and limbs from side to side as she walks. It’s incredibly cute to watch, and somewhat makes up for the slow speed.
Graphics and Audio
I love the music on the front menu screen. It has a renaissance vibe to it with a range of melodic instruments. It really fits the aesthetic of the game, and was a great music choice. There is spoken narration in the game, but the voice actor sounds almost confused by the words, and it’s clear his heart isn’t really in it. I would have liked a more enthusiastic narrator. Also, I noticed inconsistencies in the volume. The dialogue was much louder than the narration, so it was impossible to choose a good volume. It is cool that there’s narration though, as we get a little poem as we progress through the game. In the game itself, there’s no music, but there are ambient sound effects. It’s peaceful, if a little lacklustre.
The graphics are the star of the show though. The game uses a cute yet detailed art style that really makes the settings shine. When we first load up the demo, we start in an area that looks like a theatre set. There are wooden stands with hand-painted images on them, but as we move forward, we emerge into a world with so much more vibrancy. The textures on the assets are quite realistic, and the models are of decent quality. The only exceptions are the character models, which are comparatively basic. I think they could have benefitted from the same detail as the backgrounds. Whilst the gameplay is strictly 2d, it’s set in a 3d world, so we have foreground and background interest. On the whole I was pretty impressed with the visuals of this game.
I’m conscious that this has been a short review, but that’s simply because it was such a short demo. There was no point in rambling on, when the game seemed pretty straightforward. The gameplay and audio were alright, and the graphics were really nice to look at. The puzzles weren’t all that exciting, but there was a small element of challenge. There was also a touching moment at the end of the demo where our friend Urs (a bear) sacrificed his own freedom so that we could escape. It was a poignant scene to end on. My first impressions of the A Juggler’s Tale demo were that it wasn’t as good as some other games, but wasn’t bad either. Join the Screen Hype community on Facebook!