A Juggler’s Tale is quite a simple sidescrolling title from the indie studio kaleidoscube, but it’s one with an engaging stylistic flair, as it follows the trials and tribulations of the puppet Abby. A Juggler’s Tale is a mix of platforming and puzzle solving to help Abby escape from her prison, and from those who hunt her, but the tale is presented as a puppet show being held in a pub, with the storyteller narrating everything that happens.
Abby’s story starts in the circus where she performs as a juggler and acrobat. However, her life is far from ideal as the ringmaster locks her in a cage between shows. Not the nicest of situations, so in the storyteller’s tale Abby looks to escape. Here is where you’ll encounter one of the simple puzzles where a distraction is needed so Abby can nab the keys, and make her getaway.
The puzzles have the added issue of Abby’s puppet strings. All of the character’s strings can snag and get caught on the environment, meaning a bit of extra thought can be required to navigate some parts of the world.
The world of A Juggler’s Tale is explored across five acts ranging from dark forests, to a village, and ruins. For many of these acts, Abby is trying to escape or avoid her pursuers. The environments themselves look fantastic with lots of detail, while giving off the impression that the world is inhabited by puppets. Even though the puppets do not have faces their movements manage to convey their emotions, as do the voices the storyteller puts on for each.
The storyteller is far from a simple narrator, as he controls the movements of the rest of the puppets. However, as the story unfolds it seems that he has an absolute hatred for Abby. The voice acting really helps to make his feelings become more apparent, and it gradually builds into a real dislike for the character, which is almost certainly the point.
Each Act has different puzzle types to work out from using flame torches during a storm, causing distractions to pass bandits, and defeating a couple of bosses so Abby can make her escape. The main story from A Juggler’s Tale can be beaten in about two hours, so it is a short experience that can be done in one run, but while the ending is decent it does leave a bit of an unresolved issue that might sap some satisfaction from it.
I also encountered some bugs during my playthrough of A Juggler’s Tale. One was where the loading screen would not disappear, even though I could hear the level had started. The other was when I missed a platform during a chase sequence leading to Abby falling, but instead of going back to the checkpoint I was able to pan the camera around the environment instead. Luckily, due to the ample number of checkpoints, I could just go back to chapter select and pick the most recent section, barely losing any progress.