I believe that not every puzzle game have to be that hard, and I mean sincerely. Us thinky games fans love a challenge that make their brains boiling for hours, but every one of us started somewhere in a more simple enigma. To be fair, not only are games that doesn't are too deep on complexity good for introducing the genre to new people, but they also are the best for advanced players to just relax and clean the brain. I play nonograms to get sleepy, and the fact they aren't super difficult is the reason that works.

All of this was written to make you understand that I was truly excited to play Tell Me Your Story: a cute and simple puzzle game, with beautiful visuals and an intimate theme. Who doesn't want to hear some cool stories from the grandma, and even solve some enigmas in the process? Unfortunately, the bad design of its challenges made me so frustrated that I couldn't even enjoy fully all the rest the game had to offer.

Geographically confused

In Tell Me Your Story, you follow the little Amelia during a vacation in Grandma Rose's house, just to discover that her granny was a globetrotter adventure in the past and have visited a lot of countries to learn about their cultures. All the chapters in the game are based on Rose's stories mixed with Amelia's imagination, collecting stickers to put in the girl's diary. Visually (and even for some of the "puzzles"), the feeling is that I'm playing with a digital pop-up book, where every drawing is beautiful and interactable.

Tell Me Your Story

It's a cute story that allows a lot of different scenarios to be shown, and it works... most of the time. In the first chapter, Grandma Rose is telling about her days visiting the Amazon Rainforest — most than half of its territory is in Brazil, where I was born. During the puzzles, you can see in a map the path that young Rose take on Latin America when exploring the Amazon... that goes completely OUTSIDE the Amazon.

Even if you argue that she is very, very old and she visited way before colonization, the rest of the country has other biomes! Like, the center of Brazil is known for the Cerrado and the Pantanal, and they are fundamentally different from the Amazon. Any Brazilian (or even Latin American, to be fair) you show the game's Amazon map would have spotted how wrong it is in seconds.

Tell Me Your Story

I don't know exactly a lot of about the other countries shown in the game (because I don't live there), and I also know this could have been just a confusion on the part of the dev team... but for a game that will totally be targeted for children, get this type of error is concerning, at least for me. Yes, I want you to Tell Me Your Story, and it's fairly cute to see grandmother and granddaughter bonding, but I would love if you didn't treat my country (and continent) as a big and uniform magical forest, thank you.

Mechanically frustrating

Well, if the theme is nice, what's the real problem with Tell Me Your Story besides bad geography knowledge? And my problem with it was on the mechanical meat of the game: the puzzles. Remember that comparison that I did with pop-up books? Some of the "levels" in the game really feels you are just interacting by the sake of seeing cute things moving in the screen — what's totally fine for me. It's not that innovative, but this idea of a "interactive comic" works both for the theme and the promise.

That said, there also real puzzles presented in the game, and although some were fine and had the complexity level I expected for the relaxing experience they were promising, some of them were just... not puzzles? Like, there's no enough clues to solve some of the levels on Tell Me Your Story rather than pure trial and error. The only other way is asking for a hint (more like an answer sheet) and then going backwards and try to understand if something was so hidden that you couldn't find. Spoiler: most of the times, the solution really felt arbitrary.

Tell Me Your Story

For example, there's a level where you have a lot of leaves in a tea garden and a basket. The hint only shows you to move the leaves to the basket. I tried for 10 minutes to find a rule for this movement, because they keep resetting positions. When I gave up and looked to my phone, I've seen, in the corner of my eye, a leaf vibrating every ~20 seconds. Yes, the solution was only to catch the vibrating ones. Why? I don't really know, the hint even less.

Some of the worst puzzles I encountered in Tell Me Your Story reminded me from the organization challenges in A Little to the Left, whose goal was finding patterns between objects and organizing them, like similar colors/patterns or matching shapes. Those patterns didn't exist here, the objects were just there, no further information. In a level where I needed to organize some macarons, I tried to organize them by color, because it was the only distinct feature in them. The solution? Making an arbitrary pattern that wasn't shown anywhere.

Again, I don't think that an easy puzzle game is a problem. I love those, specially with cute art like Tell Me Your Story. The problem here is these "puzzles" are so bad designed they not only feel unplayable, but also makes you more irritated than relaxed. Really, I got more tired trying to understand the impossible rules of some of those levels than I did for finished other harder titles. When your puzzle design goes totally opposite than your game's vibes, there's something wrong with it, and I don't think that good grandma stories are enough to compensate it.

The team behind this game sent me a press key so I could play it and write my review. Thanks for the trust!