LifeisXbox’s A Juggler’s Tale review | Have you ever played a game where the narrator is exactly against the hero of the game? In A Juggler’s Tale, we follow the story of Abby, a circus puppet, and Jack, the puppeteer that tells Abby’s story. Developed by German studio kaleidoscube and published by Mixtvision, A Juggler’s Tale is an atmospheric 3D sidescroller set in a medieval puppet theater play. Even before this gorgeous game was released, it already won the best newcomer award at the German VIdeogame Awards in 2019. On top of that, A Juggler’s Tale also won six out of twelve awards at Game Connection Europe in 2019. It’s safe to say that a lot of pressure was put on the developers for the release of this game. We were lucky enough to try it out A Juggler’s Tale and we’d love to tell you a little more about it!
ℹ️ | Maui played A Juggler’s Tale for 3 hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.
What we liked!
- Artstyle | A Juggler’s Tale takes place in a hauntingly beautiful and grim world. The overall 3D art style was inspired by the tone and mood of traditional fairy tales and I think the developers really managed to capture this essence throughout the entire game. I’m a huge fan of the colors that were used and the entire mystical atmosphere surrounding the game was excellent. And even though Abby herself looks rather basic, she definitely has a charming vibe.
- Story | In A Juggler’s Tale, we follow Abby, a puppet artiste held captive in the circus. She spends her days entertaining an audience together with her fellow captive, a bear. Her nights are spend locked in a cage, longing for freedom, until one day she escapes and sets out on an adventure to explore the world and her newfound freedom. She quickly finds out that freedom comes at a cost and bumps into the dangers that the world had to offer. Who can she trust? How can she shake the relentless Tonda that’s hunting her down, and most importantly, can she every truly be free? I really, really, really loved the story in A Juggler’s Tale, I can’t stress it enough. It’s unusual yet recognizable for many, I’m sure. And a fun fact: the fairytale-like appraoch to A Juggler’s Tale is of more importance than one might first suspect. Developer kaleidoscube is a German studio, which is a country rich of fairytale culture. The developers actually wanted to link modern digital gaming culture with traditional, established theatre and poetry culture. Their motivation for A Juggler’s Tale was combining the narratives they grew up with, with their love for story-driven games. This resulted in a wonderful story that many can enjoy. I must admit that they succeeded in this as this is one of my top favourite fairytale-inspired games to date!
- Storytelling | Even though I really adored the actual story, I think I enjoyed the storytelling even a little more. We hear an older man, who turns out to be puppeteer Jack, talking throughout (almost) the entire game. He helps Abby after she escapes from the circus, makes sure she doesn’t drown or anything by managing her strings, and simply lends the perfect voice to this game. Even though Jack sounds nice at first, you’ll soon find out that he’s actually against Abby finding out that she might truly be free one day. It was such an amazing experience to see the narrator being against the hero in the game. Hearing the puppeteer being frustrated because the story didn’t proceed as he had wished and because Abby (aka you) pushed through, was a lot of fun.
- Rhyming | But that’s not all, I’m saving the best for last when it comes to the storytelling! The entire time that Jack is talking, he is doing this while rhyming. It really adds another dimension to this already amazing game. When I first heard that rhyming was being used, I got so excited! An example: “The sun’s warming beams have long since given way, to clammy slivers of the moon’s monochrome rays. The ground recedes into shadows so black, you can be sure they’ll never let you back. And the stars? Well, they’re there… and create a magical mood! But alas, I suspect Abby’s fate leaves them wholly unmoved.”
- Music | Just as the art style, the music was mesmerizing. It supported both the grahpics and the story as a perfect soundtrack should. I don’t want to spoil anything, but my favourite part of the soundtrack took place in the fifth and last act. It’s such an emotional and beautiful ending and the music was just perfect in every way.
- Puzzles | Once Abby escapes from the circus where she was held captive, she quickly runs into other problems. You see, she’s still under the control of puppeteer Jack so she still has strings attached to her. This prevents her from performing certain actions or going certain places. You’ll have to use your wits in order to solve puzzles where you’ll have to cross rivers, avoid being seen by the ones that hunt you, get around objects that are in the way, and more. Even though the puzzles were never really difficult to solve (I had to call in the help of my fellow writer Robby one time though, oops), they were still very exciting. A bit of logical thinking gets you a long way and keeping the environment in mind is so very important in this game. I’m positive players will have a tremendously fun time getting through all the unique puzzles that A Juggler’s Tale has to offer.
- Absolutely nothing.
What we disliked
- Bugs | I encountered a few bugs but these should be fixed in the first patch already, so that’s great. Still, I’d like to mention them because it did cause some confusion! At one point, one of the enemies chasing me got stuck in the surroundings and even though it looked kind of funny and allowed me some extra time, it was still very clearly a bug. Another bug that briefly interfered was Abby floating rather than walking. However, besides these two bugs, I had a very smooth experience with A Juggler’s Tale!
How long to beat the story | 2 to 3 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 3 hours
Similar with | Little Nightmares, INSIDE, LIMBO
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂