Game review: Marionette Night

BABA: Animals do enjoy fresh soft bones. Farewell, my own boy. My pies need me!

Lily Ounekeo

Summary: All-in-all this interactive witchy novel is beyond what I expected and I am pleased I had the honour to read the story, I am looking forward to playing the other two connected games in the (hopefully near) future. The ending was a little abrupt, but this added to the sudden flow of actions, so it’s a pro! Tagged story-rich, it owes up to that name and can proudly wield it, I would’ve added “breathtaking” as well (if it would be possible on!

Introduction to the game

VVitching Hour is a game series following a coven of witches who cross the occult in an industrializing world of dark arts and ever-darker influences. As the witches gather in the forest, their encounters with mystery, wonder, and horror reveal secrets kept by people they come to know, as well as the desires creeping within themselves. For each story, you take on the perspective of one of the witches in the coven (In this blog we will follow Marleau). Uncover additional pieces of lore and secrets as you explore the story world since there is more to meet the eye than just the obvious. The game’s menu allows you to keep a reference of your findings and your progress, and it includes a beautifully made map system. Each story stands on its own as a short-story experience, thus stories can be played in any order, very convenient! As for this story, we will play as Marleau, mentioned earlier, and we hope to visit a travelling funfair in Aspencroft, yet confronted by discouragement, we begin to question our desires.

Content Warning: May contain strong language, alcohol and drug usage, sexual content, violence, gore, abuse, and disturbing imagery.

My opinion

As one might know about me, I love to explore all options before I start playing a game, to ensure I don’t miss any settings or quirks. Doing this on a soothing screen of soft white doesn’t feel like I am about to enter a horror game, but I think I should prepare myself, for the disclaimer states the opposite. Before I can explore all mechanics and things, we are met with the introductory scene, which radiates “rebellion vibes”, for some reason. A young Marleau wants to visit a funfair but his supervisor (we assume) doesn’t want to join and points him to someone else who could take Marleau, all one has to do is stir the given mix to brew a rebellious move. Also, a small note, the content warning is righteous, since the very first few sentences are gory! Alright, one can take control of the game after the introduction, and all I can say, “I love the user interface”, it’s both clean, subtle, and convenient to navigate.

The game seems to be operated via a task menu, helping one to reach their goals. Besides tasks, we also have a few other options, including, “Map”, “Inventory”, “Notes”, “Observations”, and lastly a portrait of ourselves with a poetic text if pressed on the image. Please have a few glances at the map, not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also useful to know the whereabouts of our protagonist. The map zooms in on hover and more on an image click, I wished the dev would’ve used the infamous magnifying glass scripts, but it’s not important (just a random thought!). For now, our inventory, and notes seem close to empty, except for a few story-rich excerpts inside those menus. Sadly our observation tab is completely blank, but I think we will fill it soon enough!

Here is some eye candy to visualize what I mean with, pleasing.
Here is some eye candy to visualize what I mean with, pleasing.

Back to the story after staring at the map for quite some time. I had a few brief talks with Artrius, and he feels like the strict no fun kind of mentor. All Marleau wants is to play an instrument he choices… not one chosen via an assessment. The dialogue with Artrius did reveal a few more notes. This game was tagged story-rich, well, it’s not only that, but it also seems to create a whole universe around the protagonist, I am awed. The notes are detailed, not too flowery and above all, contain so much more information about the daily life in the institution. After this, I can firmly say we are a student inside a coven. Moments later I completed the first task, and how much I wish to elaborate on its details, the story is too big, my advice already, it’s definitely worth a play! Normally I would say this at the end, but the writer of this series must have been putting a ton of work into the game, it’s insane! Time for a quick save with the handy save/load buttons in the bottom right corner and eat something (and drink some coffee) before continuing to our second day in the world of Marleau, the acrobat.

Gavril seems to be a rather interesting character since our “ride” to Aspencroft was eventful in terms of speech and communication. To my pity, our lunatic new friend seems to have betrayed our friendship, he cares more for the pub than a lovely day with Marleau. Luckily we can enjoy ourselves at the funfair, for we arrived without too much hassle. There is so much to do around the fairground! Our neat map updates itself and a quick glance gives me my first decision firmly, relying on textual options is the way to go in interactive fiction, but seeing the top-down view of these options certainly helps in picking our next destination. The token booth seems to be the place to start, even though we seem to be a well-educated youngling, we don’t want to boost on free rides (if that’s even possible), do we now? Little did I know I can turn our behaved protagonist into a mischievous one, time to explore the dark side of Marleau I suppose! After nicking a pocket watch (whoopsie) and some tokens for the rides we can safely continue our journey. I could’ve taken many more tokens since the option did exist, but one ride per token, and we got three, so I think Marleau has already stolen enough for now. Three games/rides, three tokens.

The map of the funfair.

If Gavril doesn’t bother with me, I don’t bother with him, time for some fun! Our protagonist seems deprived of joy, so let’s give him some! Our first stop, was the unicorn game. Marleau didn’t seem too fond of the game and surprised me with something I didn’t expect, living up to his description. Time to move on, after receiving a token ticket, to the mermaid, who is deemed to be invisible. We did receive a rather sad note about our past here, possibly revealing Marleau’s logic behind his way of acting and reasoning. Our last stop includes the last game, “Kings of the Jungle”, which shows a brutal depiction of racism towards an innocent Marleau, or well innocent, karma for stealing stuff in my opinion. But let’s say the games were rather, saddening, not in a way of poorly written, far from actually, but in a way showing that Marleau doesn’t fit in.

I suppose it’s time to leave the eye-opening fair behind and sneak out. I am glad we snuck out, for we found an unadvertised attraction, namely, the puppet’s show. We met a kind but twisted being there, who even gifted us with something, a music box (the one you can wind up), I do still want that promised pie! While I am writing some of the parts of this blog I was actually celebrating my own birthday, so an apple pie would’ve been nothing too much for my mind. Alright back to the now broken down funfair (how long did we watch puppets now?). After having yet another short meeting with the rogue (Gavril), we decide to return to the coven and gift our strict mentor something, we can even choose what to give him! I gave Artrius a nice pocket watch since I have a strange feeling about the music box being cursed… As for our other items, Artrius has no use for tokens or tickets, does he now?

Our mentor is not only strict, but he also saw right through us, maybe it is expected of Marleau to steal things, but Artrius was not too happy with our “unnecessary gift”. Time to play some hide-and-seek, or rather, we do the hiding, and either Artrius looks for us or doesn’t. After a short swing moment on a swing, we descend into the forbidden parts, because one must live up to his name, right? Our items were gifted to some interesting figure we have not yet met, and we return to the passage after looking through the dungeon window. I believe Marleau gifted them out of anger, if Artrius doesn’t want them, the thing in the dungeon can have them. period. We hid in the music hall shortly after and we had an intriguing dream to say at least. Calberus (the being in the dungeon) is nothing compared to this nightmare in terms of eerie frightening dialogue/story.

I didn’t know I started our last task, the last one before Marleau would reach his end in this part of the story. Following the music, I did blindly, and soon I came to meet the big bolded word “END”. I am stunned, amazed, and awed! This horror story is one of the deeply rich details variants, and intertwined dialogue, background stories, and everything else. I am honestly deeply in love with this universe, and I didn’t expect it to end so soon, the story soaked me, and only the occasional noting for the blog post drew me out. I can proudly say I achieved everything, besides two missing observations. All-in-all this interactive witchy novel is beyond what I expected and I am pleased I had the honour to read the story, I am looking forward to playing the other two connected games in the (hopefully near) future. It also would be awesome if audio would be used in the game, I secretly hope to hear the tunes of the melancholy music of the box one day. The ending was a little abrupt, but this added to the sudden flow of actions, so it’s a pro! As for the missing observations, time to replay the story, for I am both a completionist and a perfectionist (if those aren’t the same actually).