Storyteller is a build-your-own-story puzzle game. But instead of offering you words to build your constructs with, it gives you comic-book-like panels to fill. It’s creative and challenging, if just a bit too brief.
This inventive game offers you a book of relatively empty pages, each decorated with sets of two-to-eight blank panels per page. Each page sets you off on your journey with a title that tends to be drawn from some classic story structure, encouraging you to concoct stories of love, vengeance, murder, intrigue, monsters and more.
How the story plays out is up to you … as long as it fits the title.
For instance, the book’s first title is “Lonely Person Finds Love.” It gives you just a couple of character pictures and a pair of empty panels with which to build that basic tale.
The rest of the stories follow suit. For each story title challenge, you’re given a set of character images (a queen, a Holmesian detective, a vampire, etc.) and a set of scenarios (a church wedding, a dungeon kidnapping, a gravesite, a lonely cliffside, a fireplace-warmed sitting room, etc.) to combine as you see fit and fulfill the title challenge on hand.
Your book of interactive tales is divided into 13 chapters, each with four puzzles, for a total of 52 challenges. And though the beginning puzzles are as easy as pie, they become much more difficult to accomplish in a limited number of panels as you proceed. So by the time you get to “Knight and Maid Murder the Monarchs and Have an Affair,” in eight panels and only three scenarios, the solution might leave you a bit stumped.
The simpler-feeling story puzzles can also come with bonus challenges from time to time. For example, a straightforward story of revenge might ask you to fulfill your goal without anyone dying, or by turning the table and having the villain find his vengeance.
Each character you place in a given panel also can react with certain small movements or thought bubbles to help guide your choices. So, if you place a detective at the scene of a crime, he’ll quickly pull out a magnifying glass to check for fingerprints. Or if you place a married man with another woman in a wedding chapel, his thought bubble will display an image of the woman he truly loves.
This fun puzzler is light and generally whimsical. And though the titled scenarios can involve death, betrayal, monster attacks and even suicide, the characters all appear much like colorful, cartoony stickers or refrigerator magnets. There’s no nasty language or mess in the mix.
That said, parents of younger players may not be all that happy with some of the classic story challenges on hand. Something as straightforward and Shakespearian as “Son Kills Uncle to Avenge Father” can be off-putting. And Storyteller throws the doors open for lots of similar scenarios.
The fairytale-like characters can commit suicide with poison; drink heavily; murder spouses; kidnap and cage enemies; jump into an affair; have a séance; betray a loved one; become a vampire or werewolf; enter into same-sex marriage with their mother … the possibilities are many. It’s all kept light, cartoony and blood-free, but the scenarios can still feel rather dark.
Storyteller is a relatively short game of light puzzles, creative stories and grin-worthy solutions. But it might not always leave mom and dad with a smile.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.