Creepy Tale (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 12.08.2020

Review for Creepy Tale on Nintendo Switch

Between titles like Lydia and A Normal Lost Phone, the Nintendo Switch has become a comfortable home for short, story-focused puzzle-solvers. That said, it would be wrong to imply this genre is abundant in quality, especially since the Switch's eShop has built a reputation for itself as a cesspool for low quality indie titles vying for sale supremacy (and in just three short years, at that.) At first glance, Creepy Tale promises a denser, consciously artistic alternative to its contemporaries, but underneath its haunting atmosphere is an aesthetic derivative by design, and gameplay that barely scrapes the surface of its own puzzles.

Creepy Tale has something of an elephant in the room for anyone familiar with the John Kenn Mortensen's work. The art design and general aesthetic are extremely reminiscent of his style. While Mortensen is given an "Inspired By" credit, it's important to acknowledge how this does not suggest his fingerprint on the game. This goes beyond stylistic imitation, with the central monsters in-game more or less ripped from Mortensen's Sticky Fingers. Where does the line between homage and plagiarism end?

What's particularly disappointing about this cloudy Mortensen connection is how the art direction will look to an unaware eye. Character models are expressive, the monster design is creepy, and there's just enough softness to the world design where the harsh and morbid gore stands out all the more striking. The first time the player character falls to his death and is impaled is genuinely jarring, but it's memorable in all the right ways. To the unaware eye, that is. Regardless, designing an independent work's aesthetic in the style of a living, still working artist is never not unprofessional

Screenshot for Creepy Tale on Nintendo Switch

Art theft aside, the sound direction is top notch. The story opts to forgo a script in every sense, and the end result in a focus on ambience. And for what it's worth, visual design for puzzle solving is well implemented and often clever. Players are asked to interact with the world in increasingly creative ways, with the horror continuously amplified by the sound design. There are no jump scares, but the music keeps a tense mood steady throughout - almost a Grimms' Fairy Tale given life.

Gameplay is also paced well, with puzzles flowing in and out of one another seamlessly. Stealth is prioritized (never in the same way across set pieces), but death isn't punishing. Like most modern indie games, players respawn before major gameplay sections with no consequences. There's a nice flow to progression in turn, but this in itself leads to another glaring flaw: length. The main play-through is insultingly short, with veteran puzzle-solvers capable of blasting through the story in under an hour.

Short indie games aren't unusual, and can even be good, but Creepy Tale never builds up to anything. It introduces gameplay mechanics and puzzle solving concepts that fail to evolve due to a limited play time. The best puzzles make conscious use of their difficulty curve, and three very short chapters of gameplay aren't enough to flesh ideas out. The full play-through feels more like a prologue to a larger adventure altogether. There's nothing rewarding about solving an easy puzzle in record time. Coupled with the Mortensen dilemma, and it becomes very difficult to appreciate the genuine good in Creepy Tale.

Screenshot for Creepy Tale on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Creepy Tale certainly lives up to its namesake, courtesy of superb sound design and art heavily inspired by the works of John Kenn Mortensen, but it's a title which falls apart under scrutiny. A completely silent narrative is ambitious, as is designing puzzles exclusively around visual cues, but there's barely an hour of actual content in-game. Any puzzle-solving veterans are basically guaranteed to roll credits within 45 minutes. What's worse is that while the atmosphere is palatable (with enough mild scares that feel earned), Mortensen's "influence" borders on plagiarism. He's mentioned in the staff roll for what it's worth, but under a very specific "Inspired By" credit. Regardless of any involvement Mortensen may or may not have had, the fact the game is dripping in his style does it no favours - if only because it's a blatant imitation lacking artistic integrity. Creepy Tale is fine enough on the cheap, but it won't satisfy competent gamers, nor is it a suitable introduction to newcomers given its emphasis on gore.

Developer

Deqaf Studio

Publisher

No Gravity Games

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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