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Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head

by The Hungry Reader profile

Mascot horror

(based on 15 ratings)
6 reviews

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.

Game Details


10th Place overall; 2nd Place - tie, Miss Congeniality - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A gentle comedy-horror game about puppets, October 3, 2023

ďPut Your Hand Inside The Puppet HeadĒ grabbed my attention because itís not what youíd 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 doesnít help me explain what the game is like. Hereís 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 Freddyís. 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 youíre up against. Their attacks are never overly violent or gory. Instead, as the author suggests, the attacks are at type of body horror. Itís 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, itís enough to be unsettling, and enough to make the monsters-slash-employees feel like theyíre 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 Donít Hug Me Iím 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 cleanÖthough 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 ďHandfuls.Ē The ďexit through the gift shopĒ 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. Iíve also learned that the gameís title is a reference to a They Might Be Giants song.

Iím 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 gameís 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 didnít experience anything that outright broke the game or got me to a dead end. However, there is one thing that simply didnít 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 itís 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.

Itís 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 wonít be hunting for one last obscurely placed puppet.

I havenít assigned a star rating to the game because Iím writing this review after my first playthrough; I escaped with 3 puppets and havenít seen the full ending. Still, I recommend it.

Note: this rating is not included in the game's average.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
E is for Existential Dread, December 27, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

Itís time to inaugurate a new review sub-series: ďTwinesformers: Parsers in Disguise.Ē Encompassing Twine works that share enough DNA with parsers, Maury Povich could dedicate an ďare you the Father?Ē episode to it.

Like many in my generation, I have a soft spot for the Muppets. Sesame Street, sure, but especially the Muppet Show. Henson and Oz et al had a unique sensibility of optimism, generosity, and melancholy darkness that just went down amazing when delivered by felt. They created characters (so many characters!) that were multi-dimensional, often with a desperate core that nevertheless served up raw red comedy chaos. Boy did I lap it up.

And boy was I angry when the Disney IP machine gobbled it up. Is there anything more squicky than a formerly creative studio buying what it can no longer produce, then milking the joy from it? See also Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar. On top of its generation-long war on public domain, after building its rep by plundering it. That Disney v Florida feud? I wanted BOTH to lose. DISNEY DIDNíT DESERVE THE MUPPETS.

So you can see I was primed for this game before it ever showed up in my queue. For at least a decade.

The setup is a clandestine raid, to save Handfuls (Muppets) from a monstrous fate under a rapacious and demonic new corporate owner, and by the way rehabilitating their creatorís unfairly besmirched rep. (Yeah, Henson was not actively crushed by Disney, but it FEELS like Disney, doesnít it?) It is a hopelessly youthful gesture whose success would lead to uncertain benefits, but whose urgency is completely tied to the risks willingly embraced anyway. I love it so much for that. ďIím not sure what stealing Kermit will accomplish, but BY GOD I will risk horrific daemonic death to do it!Ē

The work makes the crucial, wonderful decision not to replicate the Muppets with thinly veiled pastiches. Rather, it creates a completely different and unique pantheon of felt that effortlessly evokes the VIBE of the Muppets. The bananas, unique multi-dimensional characters. The shades of melancholy and chaos. The super-specific details that marry an impossible breadth of influences. I was smitten and awed by the consistent, creative RIGHTNESS of it.

The writing is a full partner in this, not just via in-character commentary (which is wonderful), but descriptions, incidental text, and the hinted picture of the studioís hey day, as seen post shutdown. If this had been all there was to it, Iíd be fully satisfied. But to then marry it a Horror premise: a deliciously stark contrast lurking around every corner! And to then further up the ante with engaging gameplay!!!

See, there are (Spoiler - click to show)supernatural stalkers haunting the defunct studio. You need to steer clear of those while searching for and liberating the Handfuls. And each of the Handfuls has a specific power to help you, but with two hands (one if you hope to carry a rescuee to freedom), you must select which power will be most helpful for specific circumstances. Itís a puzzly challenge with a terrific buff mechanism, each with their own hilarious and poignant commentary that ALSO can help build an underlying story of sweet sadness.

Exploring, solving key-based puzzles, avoiding monsters, interacting with delightful NPCs in service of a powerfully human story. What a great parser gaÖ rheeeeCORD SCRATCH. ITíS NOT PARSER. It is a deeply parser-influenced gameplay engine, rendered in Twine choice-select. Look this author can do what they damn well please if they are serving anti-Disney Muppet Horror to me. But there are artifacts: blocks of text not abbreviated on subsequent visits, uncertain geography, sometimes clued/sometimes not adversaries. It is hard to tease out where it is actively wrong, and where it is really just the vibe of the piece. As an experience I have to call it Mostly Seamless, as itís not game breaking so much as ďoh author, parsers could solve this for you.Ē

This is the first game I rejoiced at being incomplete at 2hr expiration. Iíve got at least two more hours ahead of me and I CANíT WAIT. An amazing alchemy of Henson-flavored horror and human tragedy. BALZAC (say that name like 50 times. youíll get it) and BLINTZ 4EVA!

Played: 10/22/23
Playtime: 2hrs, 7 Handfuls, 3/4 buildings explored
Artistic/Technical ratings: Engaging, Mostly Seamless
Would Play After Comp?: Good luck stopping me!!

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Daring rescue mission and puppet puzzler combined, December 19, 2023
by Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland)

(Note: this review was based on the mid competition version of the game. Some issues it refers to may have been since ironed out in the latest release.)

This is a rather wacky Twine choice piece, where you set out on a daring mission to recover lots of puppet figures, before the studio where they were used to make programmes is destroyed. Note I played for about an hour (thereís no time guide on the competition website), including replaying a view bits from saved files.

I liked a lot about this. You are on an abondoned studio lot, split into four sections, and you have to explore each one, including figuring out how to gain access, while dodging scary monsters that are after you. It was really quite spooky. The author in the notes at the start describes it as a bit like Pac-man in these bits. Though to be honest it felt more like Hunt the Wumpus (or rather Avoid the Wumpus!), very IF appropriate.

Your goal is to collect and save as many puppet characters as possible. Each one when you put your hand in it to rescue it responds with a unique character. It was quite hard to put the puppets down safely in the getaway van for safety. The puppets can help you in situations, but carrying a puppet near the monster is risky. I took a pretty low risk strategy of whisking them to safety as soon as possible. And saving a lot.

I didnít manage to rescue all the puppets, especially in the last quarter segment of the game, where I couldnít get past a puzzle ((Spoiler - click to show)getting the light on in the final setting). I also seemed to run into a bug mid game - but not a killer one.

But otherwise I really enjoyed this. I also liked the nicely written epilogue (note: I didnít see some stuff other reviewers mentioned, but I donít think I unlocked the relevant part of the game i.e. (Spoiler - click to show)didnít rescue the relevant puppet). I feel as though Iíve had a real adventure, high stakes, and did good. Thanks to the author.

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Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head on IFDB


The following polls include votes for Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head:

Outstanding Twine Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Twine game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible games...

Author's Choice for Best Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best overall game of 2023. Unlike all other polls in the IFDB Awards, this...

Outstanding Game of the Year 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best overall game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible...

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