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PuppetShow: Return to Joyville
Game Review

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PuppetShow: Return to JoyvilleRating: 4.0/5.0  

Puppets. Creepy, life-like, malicious puppets. Reacquaint yourself with them in PuppetShow: Return to Joyville, the 4th game in this spine-tingling hidden object adventure game series. An antagonist has given you the opportunity to prevent a past tragedy that resulted in her corruption. Stop the puppet theater from exploding and save innocent lives using your wits and puzzle-solving skills!

ERS’ creepy yet enchanting hit game series returns with its 4th game, which acts as a pseudo-prequel. You visit the town of Joyville before the tragic event that corrupted the town and its inhabitants, in the hope that you can prevent the tragedy from happening and change history for the better. As expected, PuppetShow: Return to Joyville delivers the same high quality and suspenseful adventure you’d come to expect from ERS.

Felicia – an antagonist from the previous games – has managed to travel back in time to just before a terrible fire that killed her father and scarred her both physically and mentally. She asks for your help to warn her father and prevent this tragedy from happening, with the hope that doing so will change history and avoid the corruption of both Felicia and the town of Joyville (which should be in the running for the most inappropriately-named town award).

PuppetShow: Return to Joyville

" ...a pleasant surprise,
featuring unique takes on some
of the more entertaining and
relatively challenging puzzle types. "

The gameplay is the same as the previous PuppetShow games. You explore the town of Joyville and interact with the people and puppets that inhabit the place. Locations of interest include the puppet master’s workshop and the theater where the tragic fire is about to occur. Along the way, you will encounter plenty of puzzles and hidden object scenes. You will also pick up lots of tools that you will use to overcome obstacles or activate complex puzzles.

With so many hidden object games flooding the market, the puzzles in these games tend to feel standard and recycled. However, the puzzle minigames in Return to Joyville are a pleasant surprise, featuring unique takes on some of the more entertaining and relatively challenging puzzle types. They are also thematically strong, with dolls and puppets being the main feature in most of them.

Since the game is set in a time before Joyville gets corrupted and filled with malevolent puppets, the overall atmosphere is not as dark as it was in the previous games. You will also see more “normal” people running around town as well. However, you will still be treated to plenty of creepy and scary moments (watch out for that monkey).

PuppetShow: Return to JoyvilleThere are also plenty of puppets and dolls – ranging from ragdolls to extremely life-like robots – scattered throughout the town. It may be just me, but puppets (like clowns) are scary. Just looking at their beady eyes can send shivers up and down your spine. Add to this the puppet master’s ability to bring these monstrosities to life, and you’ve got yourself one creepy game.

The game lives up to the high quality you’d expect from a PuppetShow game (or any ERS game in general). However, things aren’t all roses here; since the developers basically used the same interface and art style throughout the PuppetShow series, it is starting to look a bit dated this 4th time round. The game is still very good though. It just doesn’t have that innovative new mechanic or style that lets it outshine its competition.

Having said that, this game is still a top notch game with an exciting story and engaging puzzles. If you have played the previous PuppetShow games, you will love finding out what went wrong with Felicia all those years ago, and how you can help set things right. If you haven’t, this serves as a great introduction to the series. You will also love it if you liked other creepy and surreal games such as the Shiver and Mystery Trackers series.

You can get the basic version of the game, or you can get the Collector's Edition that includes exclusive extras such as bonus gameplay, an integrate strategy guide and plenty of media bonuses. Or get the basic version or the Collector's Edition of the Mac game.


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