There are many ways to talk about freedom. You can shout at rallies and meetings, or discuss it quietly. You can make a film about it, write a book, article, manifesto. But the authors of A Juggler's Tale talked about this in the format of a video Poki game tale, a puppet show that only at first seems childish and cute.
We play for Abby. Do not be alarmed, this is not a jock woman who escaped from Ellie on an easier adventure, but a girl who works as an artist in a traveling circus - she knows how to juggle, walk on a tightrope and is friends with a big bear. True, she is also a puppet, suspended by strings that run into the sky itself. And the invisible storyteller, who is also the local demiurge, who created this world and all its inhabitants, controls it and all the characters (that is, pulls the strings).
It all starts out nicely - Abby, to the applause of the audience, participates in the number. But after that, the girl is locked in a cage by the local Karabas-Barabas, who runs the circus (and he, in turn, is controlled by the storyteller). So it was and, it seems, will always be, but this time something has changed. And Abby decides to escape with the support of the bear and local rats.
The narrator is somewhat surprised at this, but at first does not show it and even decides to play along with the girl by helping her. And she will need help - Abby will face many obstacles - “Karabas-Barabas, a stormy river, spreading trees and a large spider.
Then the bandits, whom the circus manager hired to catch the impudent girl, begin to pursue her. Everyone is pulled by the strings of an invisible story, commenting on the events with funny rhymes. And if Abby in the process, for example, falls into a river or off a cliff, then by the same threads he pulls her out and puts her on the ground again.
At first, all this seems like a cute fairy tale about how a small actress, with the help of animals (she also helps them), runs away from the villain. This fairy tale is very beautiful and stylish in appearance and unusual, creatively presented - the threads of the characters participate in the gameplay, and the story is told in rhymes.
However, soon everything changes dramatically. The fairy tale turns into a drama about the struggle for liberation from the threads with which circumstances, duty, principles, prejudices, family, environment, obligations, or just another tyrant who imagines himself to be the master of everything around us.
The tension grows, the colors darken, corpses appear, traces of devastation and war. And for Abby, more difficult obstacles appear - either from a burning house to escape, then to survive on a fragile boat during a storm, overcoming a huge crater and the bandits pursuing Abby.
And, of course, one must see and hear how the behavior of the narrator changes, who switches from funny rhymes to expressive and sometimes obscene prose. It is shown very emotionally - you are imbued with what is happening, sincerely worried about the brave girl.
Throughout this short two-hour adventure, A Juggler's Tale is a physics-focused puzzle platformer. Abby knows how to move boxes and turn winches (I think I don't need to explain why), set fire to torches to destroy obstacles, and also throw objects that can be knocked down, for example, a bucket.
There are also stealth episodes, acrobatic exercises that make you swing on the ropes, and adrenaline shoots from enemies when you need to jump in time so as not to get caught.
But all this is familiar and traditional. It is more interesting when the same threads are involved in riddles. They can touch any beam and cling, preventing us from going further. Or we can specially hook objects - for example, so we move the chute along which water will flow into the trough for the cow - the cow will go to it, and the threads tied to it will shift the blades of the mill and open the passage for us. And it's also fun to lure enemies into traps so that they catch on to something with their threads and cannot reach us.
In general, nothing particularly complicated, but you will have to show your resourcefulness, and such puzzles look fresh. The only pity is that sometimes, due to honest physics, the character and threads are not very convenient to control. Plus a couple of times the Poki game just froze - you had to use the Ctrl + Alt + Del magic.
A Juggler's Tale is a short adventure, but bright and memorable for its creative presentation, deep, albeit far from new meaning and interesting gameplay features. However, before our "Amazing" it lacks the scale, the usefulness of the statement, more interesting and comfortably implemented from the point of view of puzzles management and technical perfection. Which, however, does not interfere with the pleasure of spending an autumn evening playing this Poki game.
Pros: fascinating story; creative presentation; funny puzzles with threads and physics; beautiful picture; very expressive voice acting of some characters.
Cons: the Poki game is very short; in addition to the original puzzles, there are many such that we have already seen in other adventures; rare but critical bugs.