Storyteller Review

Annapurna Interactive can be relied upon to find some of the most fascinating indie games each and every year, and with Storyteller they’ve certainly found something special. It proclaims that it’s a book about building stories and it certainly wants to be, and while it can’t get away from being a puzzle game, it gives players the tools to build an array of stories, albeit with some limitations.

Storyteller has a delightfully literature-centric outlook, and its overarching narrative is suitably fable-like. There’s a crown waiting at the end of this book – the crown to the kingdom – and you can only earn it by telling the best stories in the realm. The book is more or less empty when you receive it and it’s up to you to fill it with meaningful, amusing, tragic and action-packed tales for the reader.

Everything happens on the page, with the book’s chapters made up of different levels. The only thing you have to go on is the level’s heading, and an occasionally vague description of the story’s expected plot. You’re then given a select cast of characters, events and settings which you can drag onto the page’s comic storyboard in order to fulfil the story’s requirements.

These can range from the simplistic, such as having a member of your cast find a new love after the death of their spouse, to more complicated, multi-stage stories where you need to kill your entire cast off. The solution is often relatively clear, but at other points you’ll be stumped as to how you can possibly tell the story they seem to want with the tools you’ve been given.

This can lead to a bit of trial and error, with the drag-and-drop nature of the game meaning that you can resort to brute forcing your way to a solution. However, it won’t feel as enlightening as when you’ve been able to work out the narrative for yourself. While I don’t believe Storyteller is likely to turn you into Shakespeare or Elizabeth Bronte – though there’s at least one of two solutions that are straight out of their catalogue – it tickles the creative parts of your brain so that you feel as though you’ve found the solution to that tricky part of the book you’ve been writing for years.

Storyteller certainly isn’t War and Peace. It’s light, relatively short, clear, and focused, making it more of a short story than an epic series. It’s limited by the tools it provides you with, and there were points that I wanted a wider selection of them so I could tell the story in the way I wanted rather than the developer. Perhaps a sequel would find a way to let you loose, but that will likely bring its own problems with it.

Storyteller is a delightfully different indie puzzler, and its accessible tale-telling is well worth settling down with for a few hours.
  • Accessible and engaging gameplay
  • Solutions make you feel intelligent
  • Cute art style
  • Limited by the tools given to you
  • Occasional obtuse
  • Short
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.