I was kindly provided a copy of Shadow Puppeteer by Snow Cannon Games to review on Wii U.
I didn’t know anything about the game, I know it was released on Steam back in 2014, but other than that, I wasn’t sure on what the game consisted of.
First noticeable thing to me was that the game was a 2D side scrolling platformer, everyone knows my feelings towards this genre. However, there are 3D elements to it as well, which was rather interesting. When you are playing the shadow, that is solely 2D, but when you’re moving the boy around, that is 3D and you can move freely around the area you are in.
The games main story is about an Antagonist who looks very much like an iteration of Wolverine, who is going round and stealing shadows from people. When he comes to the last boy and tries to steal his shadow, the music box he has been using to steal the shadows breaks, leaving this one boy with his shadow.
While the Wolverine runs off (I’m going to call him Wolverine because there is no mention of his name, or the boy’s name…. Think of it as a silent movie with no subtitles…) with all the shadows he’s been able to steal, the boys task is to now find him and get those shadows back for the people who lost there’s.
That’s the basics of the story, what is it like to play? Well, I found it a cross between A Tale of Two Sons and Contrast. Bit of a weird combination, but with the mechanics and how the game plays, that is what it reminded me of. Mainly because the one stick on the Gamepad will control the shadow, and the other stick the boy, pretty similar to Tale of Two Sons. The link to contrast is the shadow, you can basically only jump on things that are shadow and light, so the design and the way the light is effects the game and where the shadow can go, a bit like shadow mode on Contrast.
Just like in Tale of Two Sons, I found the 1 stick per character controls to require a bit of getting used to. Especially as most of the time I would end up using the wrong stick or jump button (each character had their own jump button) and would end up falling over the edge, or another neat and interesting feature was that you couldn’t take either character too far ahead of the other as this would break the connection between them and they would die, meaning you would have to start from the latest checkpoint. I rather enjoyed this little feature as it added a bit of dimension to the puzzles you were trying to get through. (It might be that my poor coordination is to explain why I struggle with dual controls on one controller, and others may pick this up rather easily, I’m just trying to explain this from my own perspective and how I found the game. :))
The puzzles overall weren’t too bad, some of them we’re quite straight forward to understand, and others required a bit more thinking to them. Everything is there on the screen for you at the time, but sometimes the puzzles aren’t as obvious as somethings a tiny further back in the level that you can use, you don’t realise that you need them for that point in the level.
The level design is brilliant with fantastic uses for the light and dark as well as how things are laid out, which creates a rather unique and rich atmosphere, this is also helped along by some rather wonderful music. I also enjoy the character design within the game as well, as the characters look like the love child of Tim Burton from films like Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride.
You can play this game either solo or go in it with a friend and play co-op. In co-op one can take control of the boy and the other the shadow, I never got round to playing the co-op but feel in terms of controls and how to play the game, I think this would be better for getting the hang of it as you would only need to control one person at a time. This game can also be played via TV or through the Gamepad, which for me is another big plus, as when it’s come to the Wii U this is something I have looked for in games, the ability to be able to play off screen. To be able to walk out of my games room with he Gamepad and sit with the wife in the living room playing games on the Wii U while she is on the Xbox One.
I was very pleasantly surprised with the games load times as well. Sometimes there are horrendous load times when trying to get into the game or load it up for the first time, but in this instance, it is very smooth and fast, which was enjoyable and added to the rather good experience I have had.
Overall this is a good game, the puzzles are well thought and the level design and art is brilliant, but again it’s a platformer that hasn’t wow’d me in terms of gameplay ability. I’ve not had the urge to sit and play for hours, I’ve dipped in and out of the game completing a level here and there while going back to Mario Kart 8, Splatoon or another game.
Thank you to Snow Cannon for allowing me to review this game, I’m going to give it a 8. (This is the highest score I’ve given a platformer, but the game deserves it.)