Game Recs

Storyteller Is 2023's Cutest Game About Poisoning Your Spouse

Regicide never looked so adorable.

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Like ‘em or lump ‘em, puzzle games often aren’t very engaging from a narrative perspective. Despite what the producers of the Apple TV Tetris movie would have you believe, few games manage to elegantly intermingle satisfying brain-teaser mechanics with an engaging story.

But Storyteller, out March 23 on Nintendo Switch and Steam, is a rare exception to that rule. The award-winning indie from developer Daniel Benmergui and publisher Annapurna Interactive gives you a series of 51 folktale-inspired puzzles — think witches, royalty, dragons, vampires, and marriages aplenty. Each puzzle is laid out like a comic strip, with anywhere from three to six panels. You’ll be given a handful of scenarios to mix and match across the panels, and a variety of characters to populate them, in order to create a story that matches the prompt at the top of the screen.

This is one of those instances where it makes more sense to see it rather than explain it, so here you go:

Annapurna Interactive

Much of the fun and charm of Storyteller comes from trial and error. In order to progress, you’ll often need to experiment with how different characters interact with one another in various scenarios. Each character has one or two traits they’re predisposed to — they could be family members, star-crossed lovers, or rivals.

Once you learn how these characters feel about each other, it’s up to you to manipulate their emotions and fates with a bit of narrative engineering. In one puzzle, you may need to use a medley of marriages, poisonings, and seances to get the queen and the knight to the altar. In another, you’ll need to send a series of spies to prevent a butler from snuffing out an oblivious duke. You’ll swap between familiar faces enough from level to level, but these stories don’t really connect together into some grand overarching plot.

Though the puzzles generally become more challenging as you go on, you’re free to pursue them in any order you choose. That also means you can move on easily if you get stuck on one particular prompt, and return to it later.

Annapurna Interactive

Storyteller would benefit from some kind of simple hint system, though. While most of its trickier stages can be solved with a second attempt after a good night’s sleep, an option to fill in the occasional blank would be welcome. There were a handful of instances where I systematically began to run down every possible combination in order to move forward, which felt contrary to the spirit of the game’s brightest moments.

Annapurna’s latest is a short but satisfying snack that will delight puzzle aficionados without make more casual players frustrated. At less than $15 bucks, it’s a charming bite-size experience for gamers without several dozen hours to spare.

Storyteller is out now for Steam and Nintendo Switch.

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