Storyteller from Annapurna Interactive and Daniel Benmergui and is now available on PC and the Nintendo Switch. I had a lot of fun with the narrative puzzle adventure, where I decided the fates of monarchs, stabbed vampires, and broke the hearts of many. I had the opportunity to talk with the man behind the storybook, Daniel Benmergui himself, to talk about the game, its influences, and its development.
Note: These questions were sent before the release
For anyone that still doesn’t know what Storyteller is, how would you describe it?
Storyteller is a puzzle game that challenges you to make stories instead of just consuming them. Every level gives you characters, settings and a title and your task is to make a story that fulfills the title, regardless of which story it is.
I understand that Storyteller has actually been in development for a very long time, and had a completely different visual style. What would you say is the biggest change in the final release compared to when you first showcased it?
The biggest challenge was to make a game where every single level is good and enjoyable to play. Since Storyteller is played based on common sense you bring from the outside world it was very difficult to make it universally accessible and playable.
Knowing how long Storyteller has been in development, are you a bit surprised no one else went with your idea to create something similar?
We were hoping someone would try to figure out the hard problems of designing a game like Storyteller but we had no luck and ended up having to figure it out all by ourselves!
I really like the art style you landed on. Can you tell me more about why you chose it? It also really reminds me of a television storyboard, is there a reason behind that?
We went for a sytle that is sort-of children’s book but at the same time grownup dark. That’s why characters feel cute but not in a childishly cute way. The new art went through several iterations as well, while we tried to make it look great, express subtle emotions and be coherent throughout the game.
I’ve been playing the game for the past few days, and I’m quite impressed with the number of solutions one can interpret at each level. What was the biggest challenge in implementing such a complex structure, especially when you have to account for so many potential player perspectives?
Actually the story simulator we developed for the game is pretty powerful, the biggest challenge is to find interesting stories to tell with it. So I guess I mean the curation process was the hardest part, not making the stories flexible.
Storyteller is a pretty unique game, and I’ve genuinely not played anything like it, but what other games, if there are any, have served as an influence for it, even outside the core gameplay?
Not really! The biggest inspiration for Storyteller were children books.
With this game, you’ve committed deeply to player choice, offering them a variety of meaningful methods to finish the level. How important is this aspect when you’re developing a game?
So far every game I made tried to give you something new to experiment, so I think in those terms, not really about choice. Choice for Storyteller was just a consequence of letting you make the stories.
Are there any recent puzzle games you think people should check out?
Well I loved The Case of the Golden Idol
What was it like working with Annapurna Interactive?
We are still working with them! They understand how development works, which is rare in the world of publishing.
Do you have plans of bringing the game to other platforms? or are you happy with the current platforms?
We are already working on a mobile version and it may reach other platforms, depending on the platform holders!
What did you think of our Storyteller interview? Have you played the title yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.