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Shadow Puppeteer (Wii U) Review

by Daan Koopman - February 20, 2016, 2:49 pm EST
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The heart is in the right place, but the design is flawed.

The puzzle-platforming genre is a mixed and varied landscape that evolves by the week. There is no shortage of games to play here, and most of them feel unique as well. That is certainly the case with Shadow Puppeteer, a game by Sarepta Studio. The prospect of controlling both a boy and his shadow is an interesting one indeed, but it is married by more issues than you actually want out of a game.

The story is a charming one at the very least. The evil Shadow Puppeteer is stealing everybody's shadow and making them bow to his will. The boy's shadow manages to remain as free as a bird and together they try to stop the villain. It is a simple tale and that is the beauty of it. There is no spoken dialogue or complicated plots, which ensures that the action starts quickly.

That action forces you to look over the entirety of the screen. You have the boy who walks in somewhat of a 3D plane, while the shadow solely moves and walks in a 2D setup. While the puzzles are the best thing about Shadow Puppeteer, the controls really take getting used when you are playing this by yourself. The characters are both assigned to one of the two joysticks, while the shoulder buttons will make them do various actions or jump. When I was playing through it alone, I felt constantly frustrated. The experience caused deaths that I could have avoided in more reasonable scenarios.

Luckily, you can play with a buddy throughout the game and this makes the experience far more entertaining. It elevates the journey to a higher degree and it is truly enjoyable to coordinate with one another. You will get slowed down a bit in co-op, but that may be a good thing considering how short the game is otherwise. I was done in like three hours and there isn't anything to do when you are done. You could always replay it with a new person, but it won't be any more fun. You already know all the solutions after all!

The presentation is somewhat of a mess as well. I really enjoyed how the game looked while playing, but the story bits could have benefited from way more polish. Next to this, there are also frequent issues when it comes to the framerate. It plummets from time to time for no particular reason. Finally, the soundtrack is really hit or miss. There are tunes that I really adore, while others sound so forgettable. The quality is all over the place.

While I can't call Shadow Puppeteer a bad game, the many design errors just left me mostly annoyed throughout. The game was clearly not optimized for the system and some additional polish could have gone a long way. Next to that, it is just a really short game that I can only recommend in co-op. If you do decide to take the plunge, you can't go wrong with the puzzles and story, but you will have to put up with a lot to truly enjoy yourself.


  • Cool puzzles
  • Neat in co-op
  • Nicely told story
  • Confusing controls in single-player
  • Could have used more polish
  • Framerate issues
  • Hit or miss soundtrack
  • Quite short

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Genre Action
Developer Sarepta Studio
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Shadow Puppeteer
Release Jan 28, 2016
PublisherSnowCastle Games
eu: Shadow Puppeteer
Release Jan 28, 2016

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