Backlog Review: Storyteller (Switch)

Its fitting, charming illustrations and animations may be what first draws you in, but the satisfying gameplay will keep you completing the stories until the end.

By Achi Ikeda. Posted 01/30/2024 09:04 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
A refreshingly new puzzle game with adorable art direction
Poison Mushroom for...
A too-short experience that leaves you wanting more

Welcome to another Backlog Review, where we take a look at an older game that fans might have sitting waiting to be played or are still considering giving a purchase. This time we’re looking at Storyteller.

As someone who studied anthropology, I am pleased with the recent various indie games that involve language by turning it into a gameplay mechanic. Standouts include 7 Days to End With You, Heaven’s Vault, and Outer Wilds, which is finally on Switch! These games have you decoding a language, something all of us have done as we learned our native tongue as infants. Language is something hardwired in our brains.

But Storyteller is not a game of decoding language. Rather, it is about telling stories using the universally understood visual language and a comic book style of presentation most of us are familiar with. As long as you know western fairy tail tropes, you can play Storyteller and solve its puzzles.

The game is cleverly simple and easy to pick up. It is broken down into themed chapters such as “beauty,” “life and death,” and “secrets.” Each chapter has a handful of levels with a different story title. The title is your objective. Using the limited characters and backdrops icons on offer, you’re tasked with bringing that story to life. How you order the events and combine characters with settings is key. They can be ordered in different ways to create different results. The game is very accessible. Mechanics are simple, just drag and drop. Storyteller is a game I enjoyed on my own, but I’d also have fun sharing it with my friend’s children or my older relatives. The variety of each chapter and how mechanics build on themselves and keeps the game interesting.

Quickly, you’ll get to know the various characters. Most will react differently to the same scenario, thus leading to different outcomes. Experimentation is a key part of gameplay. Storyteller is a bit reminiscent of the Scribblenauts series, but with less breadth and more depth. Much of the gameplay revolves around building relationships between the characters to create a narrative that matches the level title.

The puzzles may be a bit easy for players who frequently pick up puzzle games, but that doesn’t detract from the fun thanks to the perfect art direction. From the narration and sound design to the visuals, it’s goofy, charming, and deliciously fun. Storyteller has a tone similar to Tearaway and Sackboy. That’s why the main detraction of the game is its length.

The base game is easily completed in a few hours. The recently added free DLC helps alleviate this, but at a difficulty bump that may put off some players. It’s unlocked after completing the base game and involves a new character, a devil, who completely alters the stories you’ve come to master. Now, you need to come up with new solutions to a small selection of levels you’ve already completed. Something else I came to wish for was a creative mode where you could experiment with all the characters and settings. It would have been fun to create and title my own stories that I could then share with others. This could potentially add many additional hours to gameplay, but may have been too complex to implement.

Criticism that a game is too short is also praise in its own way. It means that it is so good that it leaves you wanting more. I don’t think being short is necessarily bad. I prefer short and sweet over long and tedious. As I have gotten older and found free time becoming increasingly scarce, I’ve looked less for long epics and more for bite size experiences I know I’ll complete. Therefore, for those looking for something quick and easy to pick up, lovers of fairy tales, avid puzzle game players, and people of all ranges in experience with video games, I highly recommend Storyteller.

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