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About the Story
The world's most beloved puppeteer has died under mysterious circumstances. His legacy must be preserved! Hunt your way through his studio and talk to seven different puppets to learn the truth and protect Mal Newsome's honor.
10th Place overall; 2nd Place - tie, Miss Congeniality - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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“Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head” grabbed my attention because it’s not what you’d usually see in IF. As it turns out there is quite a bit to say about it.
One on hand, it is a game about wearing puppets. On the other hand, it is also a game about wearing puppets, because you are literally wearing puppets on both hands. You also have a lanyard, but that doesn’t help me explain what the game is like. Here’s what does explain it:
1. The aesthetic and game feel:
As the IFDB page suggests, this is a mascot horror game, building on a genre that seemingly originated with Five Nights at Freddy’s. Looking at other examples, it seems that this game is a fairly unique example of the genre because the mascots are friends rather than foes.
In this case, the enemies are some sort of synthetic monster owned and employed by the corporation you’re up against. Their attacks are never overly violent or gory. Instead, as the author suggests, the attacks are at type of body horror. It’s a bit watered down, closer to getting smothered by the weather balloon in The Prisoner than any sort of horribly visceral transformation that you have to undergo.
In any case, it’s enough to be unsettling, and enough to make the monsters-slash-employees feel like they’re worth evading, even though you can use the save and load button liberally.
Normally, you would expect a game like this to also draw on the separate genre of adult puppet shows, in the vein of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared or Avenue Q (either of which might be considered edgy or explicit depending on your tolerance level). However, the humor in this game is seemingly very clean…though maybe there is one double entendre that has to do with a certain writer. Anyway, the gentle humor is a good choice, because I genuinely cared about the puppets I was rescuing.
Beyond that, the jokes mostly land, and the puppets have genuinely creative names. I really like the idea of them being called “Handfuls.” The “exit through the gift shop” link had me laughing, regardless of whether it is a reference to the Banksy documentary, or just a reference to the sign that all of the gift shops have. I’ve also learned that the game’s title is a reference to a They Might Be Giants song.
I’m not sure if the horror of the monsters and friendless of the puppets converge as the game progresses, but there are hints that bad things happen to puppets that get caught. In any case, both the horror and the comedy elements of the game are gentle, but well-done.
2. The game mechanics:
The map layout is very good: small grids with a safe hub that you can return to pretty quickly. There is also some light color coding that helps with memorization. It would be helpful if the author had included a map, but then again, it is easy to draw your own.
The game also offers some very creative evasion and self-defense options when you are wearing particular puppets. At the same time, by the game’s own admission, it is often easiest to explore an area through trial and error unarmed. I am not sure if there are any sections where it is absolutely necessary to use a puppet to complete a goal, but I did not get that impression. Key items are held separately from your puppet hands, on the aforementioned lanyard.
I didn’t experience anything that outright broke the game or got me to a dead end. However, there is one thing that simply didn’t work: I hid in a freezer and the game told me it was safe to get out. I was immediately attacked by a monster-employee.
3. Ease of access:
Though I enjoyed the game, I recommend it simply because it’s is very approachable. One nice thing is that the game can be played only partially. You can exit and read an ending at any time after getting the first puppet, which is nice if you are playing casually.
It’s also explained in game that you only need to get 10 of the 12 puppets to truly finish your assignment. This threshold is a little high in my opinion but, again, it means that you won’t be hunting for one last obscurely placed puppet.
I haven’t assigned a star rating to the game because I’m writing this review after my first playthrough; I escaped with 3 puppets and haven’t seen the full ending. Still, I recommend it.
This is a complex and rich puzzle game written in Twine.
In it, you are tasked with recovering 14 different puppets from a studio that is about to shut down. It seems like a mix of Muppets and Disney, with a studio next to a giant theme park and all the old history about to be demolished.
You, a former puppeteer, are tasked with stealing the puppets with the help of an anonymous accomplice. The twist is (revealed very early on), when you find a puppet, they come to life! Each puppet has different features that can help you in different situations.
Opposing you are evil puppets that stalk through the halls or vents. They can steal puppets from you. I always used ‘undo’, so I don’t know if you can get them back. If you don’t have a puppet, they just kick you out, which can actually be a nice shortcut!
There are four main areas. I finished 3 on my own, getting all puppets, but needed to poke around the code to figure out how to get in and beat the 4th one. However, you can get a good ending even if you miss out on the final building.
While the premise is inherently amusing, the game is more about the march of time and the loss of childhood memories. There is a subplot that you only encounter in the very end parts of the game about the Black experience in America.
I found the ending to be a bit long, with page after page of fullscreen text. That part seemed like it was meant to be a tribute for Jim Henson (like the game mentions in the credits) or maybe an exercise in worldbuilding, but it was a little bit long for my liking. I may be a bit sensitive to that because I have something similar in my current game (a museum at the end describing everything you did or saw) and I’ve been trying to figure out what a good length of time to spend there is.
The ‘true ending’ I got with all 14 puppets worked out well, I think.
I found the random movement of the enemies a bit difficult to avoid at times, but with UNDO it wasn’t too bad. It provided a bit of flavor. The only place I found really rough was the final building, where there were usually only 2 exits at a time, so moving in and out was pretty risky.
I think fans of big parser-like twine adventures (like Agat’s games) will like this a lot. I enjoyed it!
Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head is quite a long entry mixing the heist genre with horror tropes, with a focus on puppetry, and a hint of a mystery. Your job is to recover different puppets hidden throughout an abandoned - about to get demolished - studio. However, the job is not as easy as it seems: monsters roam the corridors... and will steal what you carry.
From the (actual) start, PYHITPH reminded me of Five Nights at Freddie's, not just because of the puppets themselves, but also with the spooky buildings you need to explore at night, and the strange things that hunt you. You need to be strategic in where you go and when you get to it, or you'd cross path with the monsters (the Hints refers to the game as having a Pac-Man sort of gameplay). Adding onto it, you have to solve puzzles to get to certain puppets or bits of information.
I got frustrated losing the puppets pretty quickly (even if I tried to play it smart), so I ended up using the cheat mode quite early on to reach the endings. It is not an issue from the game itself, though. The mechanic and the puzzles pretty neat, I just couldn't handle it [timing puzzles are make-or-break-it]. Were it not for the spooky monsters and tracking their movements…
As well, not being a puppet person, I felt like I was missing context or references when I played the game. I could obviously be completely fiction*, but something about the writing made it pretty believable that something like this happened in real life?
*looking up names left me empty-handed, again...
[Originally played on 1-Oct during the IFComp]
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Average member rating: (11 ratings)
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Average member rating: (7 ratings)
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