Puppetshow is a series of hidden object games produced by ERS Game Studios and published by Big Fish Games. The story tells of a detective following around and solving mysteries involving strange dolls. The first five games is part of the Joyville saga in which the detective unravels the mysteries regarding the Puppetmaster of Joyville and his daughter, Felicia.
Mystery of Joyville, tells how the detective is asked by an old man and his daughter to find a young boy named Simon, who had gone missing for days. Piece by piece, the detective slowly finds clues that lead them to the mastermind of the plot.
Souls of the Innocent takes place some time after the first. An epidemic has arrived, with children asleep for two whole days. There's a connection between the children and a new doll store in town, and the detective soon finds themselves with a familiar face.
Lost Town takes place in a city named Moonstone. Secret tunnels have been found, but it becomes dangerous after a giant golem steals little Suzy from her mother.
Return to Joyville takes the detective back to the day that Felicia was caught in the fire and tries to figure out a way to set things right.
Destiny Undone takes place in an alternate Joyville set prior to the first four games. The detective is tasked to find the whereabouts of Felicia's father, the Puppetmaster. However, there's a mysterious woman and an evil duplicate of Felicia that's standing in their way.
The first game was a success, and put ERS Game Studios on the map for producing well-thought supernatural/mystery based stories with gorgeous graphics and puzzles.The sixth game has been released, starting a new story arc. Named Lightning Strikes (working name "Steam Heart") takes place in 19th century France where strange lightning has transformed helpless women into large life-size puppets.
This game series provides examples of:
100% Completion: Lightning Strikes will feature achievements that act like this.
Addressing the Player: If the player collected all ten dolls in Destiny Undone's Collector Edition, the Puppetmaster will thank the player for giving him and Felicia a happy ending and states that while Joyville's story is over, there will more adventures in store.
Adult Fear: In every game there's some poor innocent child in danger.
Mystery of Joyville: Your child was kidnapped and is going to be used by a mad puppeteer and have their very soul transferred into a doll. And then the doll will have its screws removed, essentially killing them.
Souls of the Innocent: While you're asleep, the cute doll your child got will steal their soul to revive someone's youth. If the soul's not back in three days, the child will never wake up.
Lost Town: A crazed person whose still bent on getting their youth back will essentially kidnap your child and hope that they will switch bodies.
Return to Joyville: Your child will somehow get caught up in a madman's scheme to burn a building to the ground and thus accidentally render themselves burned and crippled.
Destiny Undone: Your child will block a blow of acid meant for you, scarring her for life.
Lightning Strikes: A maniacal life-size puppet will kidnap an innocent child right in front of your eyes taking them to who knows where.
Aerith and Bob: The hotel owner in Mystery of Joyville is named Egidio. His daughter is named Sarah and her son's named Simon.
In Lightning Strikes: The owner of the zeppelin is Froissert, the fortuneteller is named Shanta and the boy's name is...Jean.
Always Night: Lost Town is the only game to take place completely at night. Mystery of Joyville starts at sunset but the majority takes place at night.
Anachronism Stew: Lightning Strikes takes place in Paris in the year 1888 (see Shown Their Work for more details), but there's a modern drum set in the Moulin de Rose, and an ice cream vendor with helium balloons that didn't come in for another few decades. This also doesn't count the zeppelin and Steampunk aesthetics.
The newspaper in the beginning of Lightning Strikes has a poster of Rosie the Riveter stating "We have steam power!". Rosie the Riveter wasn't shown until World War ii, at most six decades after the game takes place.
And the Adventure Continues: At the end of Lightning Strikes's bonus chapter, Jean is in Froissart's zeppelin, telling the detective that a new mystery is waiting for them.
Apocalyptic Log: In Mystery of Joyville, the detective finds the diary of the Puppetmaster. It reveals what happened to the old man after the theater burned down and why there are kidnappings at night.
Another one is shown in Lost Town, which explains that a disease hit the town long ago and the robots were there to replace the people who died.
Alternate Universe: Destiny Undone takes place prior to the first four games, which seems to be set in the alternate timeline where Felicia doesn't get burned in the fire at the Theater House. In this one, Cricks isn't a Stalker with a Crush who burned down the theater, but was once the Puppet Master's friend before working on a varnish that rendered him blind. Unfortunately, it ends with Felicia getting the scars, thus making it more like a Downer Beginning. However, unlike her original counterpart, the Destiny Undone Felicia doesn't give into despair and learns to realize that she is still her beautiful self on the inside and thus the events of the first four games never get set into motion.
Lightning Strikes takes place in an alternate Paris with a few steampunk aesthetics and zeppelins.
Art Evolution: Lightning Strikes in comparison to the previous games. In particular are the circus cutouts and the paper theater Hidden Object scenes.
Ax-Crazy: Evil Felicia of the first three games, Cricks in Return to Joyville and Destiny Undone.
Bad Future: Return to Joyville's bonus ending shows that even though the detective saved Felicia from her fate, Joyville has become even worse than it was in the first game with people gone missing and a strict curfew being placed on the town. Felicia is more or less under house arrest, and the Puppetmaster is imprisoned at the puppet factory, forced to design the puppets and robots that control the town.
Bears Are Bad News: Maria, a circus bear, will not let anyone enter the circus tent until her cub is found in Lightning Strikes.
Big Bad: For the Joyville Saga we have: Puppetmaster in Mystery of Joyville, Felicia in Souls of the Innocent and Lost Town. In Lightning Strikes, the role goes to Alessandro.
Bigger Bad: Cricks, the deranged former puppet master, is revealed to the one behind the tragic theater accident in Return to Joyville and nearly kills the Puppetmaster and scars Felicia with acid in Destiny Undone. His escape sets him up as the series's real Big Bad in future games.
Bittersweet Ending: In Destiny Undone, the detective manages to save the Puppetmaster and reunite him with Felicia, but Felicia is horribly scarred saving her father from an acid attack and Cricks still manages to get away. However, Felicia has accepted her scars as she grew up and does not become the evil and desperate Felicia of the prior games.
Brats with Slingshots: Jean in Lightning Strikes, who uses his slingshot at a street lamp that somehow came alive.
Broken Bird: Felicia of the first four games. By Return To Joyville, she's begging for the detective to help her.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Froissart in Lightning Strikes is hanging on for dear life onto some rope high in the atmosphere in his own zeppelin while there's strange lightning storms about. He calmly tells the main character not to worry all while smoking a cigar with his free hand.
Chekhov's Gun: The musical score that you obtain in the very beginning of Mystery of Joyville is the key to free Simon from having his soul trapped inside one of the Puppetmaster's puppets.
Chekhov's Gunman: In Souls of the Innocent, the detective finds a fortuneteller in a meditative trance. He then meets up with the fortuneteller, whose soul has been trapped in a typewriting doll that gives him advice on how to stop Felicia.
Continuity Nod: The detective finds posters of Egidio and Sarah in the Bad Future in the Collector's Edition of Return to Joyville. In Destiny Undone Collector's Edition, the detective can find ten puppets resembling puppets/people from the games (minus Lost Town for some odd reason).
Shanta, in the upcoming Lightning Strikes looks very similar to Madam Lulu from Souls of the Innocent (the seer who was in a meditate trance and whose soul was in the type writing doll). In Froissart's zeppelin, there's a painting of Sarah and Simon from Mystery of Joyville
Cool Old Guy: Froissert in Lightning Strikes, who has been part of the Parisian for forty years and is the owner of a zeppelin that carried the main character from New York to Paris. The bonus chapter reveals that Froissert isn't as nice as he seems.
Dull Surprise: The Puppetmaster, upon being freed in the Bad Future in Return to Joyville's bonus chapter, greets the detective with an "Oh, hello detective."
Earn Your Happy Ending: The detective saves young Felicia from her Start of Darkness at the end of Return to Joyville... Only for the Collector's Edition to reveal that Joyville has become much, much worse.
In Destiny Undone, an alternate Felicia still obtains the scars, but she doesn't go through the events of the first four games, breaking the cycle of anger that her original counterpart went through.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Puppetmaster's name is never revealed. Felicia only calls him "Father" and Destiny Undone just call him "Master" (of Puppets). The main character is mostly known as detective. In an amusing note, Jean in Lightning Strikes immediately calls the main character "Detective" justifying in that he's a little kid and assumed the main character was one due to the case file they had on them.
Evil Twin: An evil version of Felicia pops up in Destiny Undone. It's actually a puppet double created by Cricks. When the detective meets up with her in the bonus chapter, the doll explains that she was just created to imitate Felicia and ruin the Puppetmaster's reputation by doing terrible things. She undergoes a Heel-Face Turn after realizing that Cricks never cared for her.
Extended Gameplay: In Lightning Strikes, the character can find piggy banks to help spruce up areas around the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty.
Featureless Protagonist: Our only clue as to what the detective looks like comes from Mystery of Joyville in which Egidio says that he made 'his' [the detective's] bedroom. Meanwhile, there's no clue as to the gender of the detective in Destiny Undone. Lightning Strikes confirms our character as male.
Foreshadowing: Destiny Undone has this regarding a newspaper with the front-line news of the Puppet master's disappearance. Near the article of a blind patient who escape the sanitarium, it has Crick's silhouette on it.
For Want of a Nail: The Joyville Story Arc hinges on Felicia getting the scars all over her face after the fire from the theater. She has them removed once the detective goes back in time in Return to Joyville. In Destiny Undone (see Alternate Universe) she obtains the scars by taking the acid that would've scarred her father. However, the ending narration states that she never goes through the events of the first four games, realizing that her inner beauty is what truly matters.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: The newspaper shown in Lightning Strikes shows that the date is October 28, 1888 and on the corner is a Rosie the Riveter poster.
Freudian Excuse: In the bonus chapter Destiny Undone, a fairy doll (who is actually Crick's first creation) explains that after the accident that rendered Cricks blind, the man who wanted to make puppets and people happy believed that there was no point in making the world happy and thus wanted to spread that hatred onto his old friend's creations before moving on past Joyville.
Ghost Town: Almost every city in the series has this. Joyville is due to failing business (the Puppet Theater attracted lots of people, not so much when it burned to the ground) and even more so in the fourth game if you play the Collector's Edition. The second city is because the parents are at the side of the soulless children. The third in Lost Town is just plain abandoned with the robots replacing human jobs when a mysterious disease hit them years ago.
Go for the Eye: Jean's advice in Lightning Strikes when it comes to fighting off living statues and street lamps.
Green-Eyed Monster: Crick's in Destiny Undone which made him capture the Puppet master and wishing to blind him with acid just like what happened to him. It actually goes deeper than that. See above.
Haunted House: The Puppetmaster's house in Mystery of Joyville. It even has a theater inside it!
Hidden Object Game: In spades. One of the only complaints is that you have to collect multiples of some items (Some justified more than others)
If I Can't Have You: Cricks didn't like getting rejected, so he decided to tie up the girl he likes in the theater and set it on fire.
Ironic Name: Joyville isn't that jolly when first seen...
Moreover, Felicia means "happy and prosperous".
I Was Quite a Looker: Anyone wondering who the green-haired puppeteer is in the Destiny Undone Title Screen? It's Cricks prior to the accident that blinded him.
Karmic Death: In Mystery of Joyville, The Puppetmaster's soul is sucked into one of his own dolls. But since his daughter removed the screws to the joints, he collapses and dies.
Kids Are Cruel: In Mystery of Joyville, it's noted how Felicia grew malicious and twisted over the dolls her father made her.
Lightning Can Do Anything: The subject of Lightning Strikes is the lightning storms that can cause statues and lamp posts to become monsters, and innocent women into life-sized puppets.
Lost Forever: In Lightning Strikes, there are two piggy banks in the zeppelin that can be easily missed in the beginning of the game.
Missing Mom: Nothing is ever mentioned of Felicia's mother.
Musical Nod: The music played on the phonograph in Lightning Strikes can be a track from either Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue, or Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial both made by ERS. Fitting in that the Dark Tales series takes place in France.
Mythology Gag: In one of the first hidden object scenes in Lightning Strikes, the player clicks on a "Dead End" sign and a photo of a family that were found in Phantasmat: Crucible Peak, a previous ERS game.
Never My Fault: In Mystery of Joyville, Felicia blames the detective for causing the death of her father. The father, sucked into the doll Simon was supposed to be in, dies due to having all the screws removed, lamenting that Felicia intended to do this to Simon.
In Destiny Undone, Cricks blames the Master for blinding him when it was actually him working on the varnish that caused him to go blind.
In Destiny Undone, the detective can find instructions to make different types of hats for their Spider-head doll.
The hint system for Lightning Strikes is a stylish top hat. If one goes to use the Steampunk theme, it has a blinking meter at its side.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The first diary entry in Lightning Strikes has the main character recaling how he saved the Brooklyn Bridge from demolition clowns.
Pet the Dog: The CE of Destiny Undone shows that despite Cricks wanting to cause nothing but evil after his accident, the only puppet under his creation that didn't convert to evil was the first one he ever made.
Playing Card Motifs: The evidence for the case file in Lightning Strikes is presented as playing cards. For example: evidence with Nightingale is shown as the Heart suit.
Police Are Useless: In Destiny Undone, Felicia states that the police won't go searching for the Puppetmaster unless he has been missing for more than 2 days (the detective was called in just a few hours after the kidnapping).
Private Detective: Although there are two of them: one that spans from Mystery of Joyville to Return to Joyville and another one in Destiny Undone.
Prophet Eyes: Shanta has these when she communicates with the main character in Lightning Strikes.
Record Needle Scratch: In Lightning Strikes, the main character finds who they believe to be Nightingale sitting at a chair, only to reveal that it's a mannequin dressed in her likeness. There's a sound of a a needle scratch to drive it home.
Red Herring: Gabriella Rosetti in Destiny Undone is shown to be angry at the Puppetmaster and even attacks the detective for no good reason...until it turns out that she had no idea that the player was even a detective and just thought he was stalking her. Once they give her her missing purse, she's much more nicer... until Cricks kills her offscreen.
Remember the New Guy: Cricks who appears in both Return to Joyville and Destiny Undone. It's justified in Return to Joyville because he died when he set the theater on fire and Felicia's memory about the night were fuzzy at best.
Ridiculously Human Robots: The subject of Lost Town. Many of them have replaced humans in jobs (whether they be barbers, cashiers, pianists or plain guards.) This is because they replace the people who died long ago to a mysterious disease.
Roma: Prominently shown in Lightning Strikes, with a gypsy man's love for a young girl relevant to the game's story.
Rule of Three: In Souls of the Innocent, once the soul of a child is taken away, they only have three days before they're in comas forever. Likewise, Felicia antagonizes the detective three times (Mystery of Joyville to Lost Town) before begging the detective for help.
Scars Are Forever: Felicia, the Puppetmaster's daughter, still has burns from the fire years ago. They go away after you save her from the fire in Return to Joyville. Unfortunately, in Destiny Undone, Felicia gains the scars once more after taking the acid that was meant to scar her father, but she keeps it that way instead of wanting to obtain her former beauty.
Scenery Porn: Everything's hand painted—except for the moving dolls—and it is gorgeous.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The subject of the 4th game, Return to Joyville. The detective succeeds, but the bonus story reveals that a Bad Future was created in the process. Felicia and what's left of Joyville are imprisoned in their homes and her father is a prisoner of the Big Bad, forced to design the robots and puppets that patrol the town.
Shout-Out Theme Naming: In Lightning Strikes, the boy Jean, and the zeppelin owner Froissert are named after a famous 14th century author known as Jean Froissart, who helped chronicle most of the Hundred Years War up till 1400.
Shown Their Work: In Lightning Strikes, there's a poster that tells the completion of the Eiffel Tower on March 1889, and Froissert mentions that the epidemic had to be solved before the "World Exhibition". The exhibition was the World's Fair in Paris, which was held in the Eiffel Tower at the time.
The main character can also collect coins to spruce the areas around the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty. The setting takes place on October 1888, and the Statue of Liberty was completed in late October of 1886—two years earlier.
Spider Headed Dolls Are Scary: There's always a doll on top of mechanical spider legs following the detective in every game. They were made by the Puppetmaster to be companions for Felicia. In Return to Joyville they are nowhere to be seen (justified as the game takes place prior to the fire that damaged Felicia). The detective finds sketches for them and builds one for his own use in the Collector's Edition though.
In Destiny Undone, the detective finds one that can be used to pick up items that they can't, and can create hats for them to wear. A malevolent one also wreaks havoc, although this one was created by Cricks.
Stalker with a Crush: Return to Joyville reveals that the fire that set up the original events of the first game were because one of the former theater masters, Cricks, was so obsessed with a younger actress in the theater's troupe that he had blown up the theater with the two of them in it. Felicia had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Start of Darkness: Felicia became evil due to being scarred when the theater was burning. Return to Joyville explains that she was stuck in the theater while Cricks, a performer in the troupe who was a Stalker with a Crush blew up the theater with the girl he fancied.
In Destiny Undone, this is subverted as Felicia does get the scars—by taking the acid attack meant for her father—but decides to not go through the events of the first four games as she learns that it's her personality that matters and accepts her scars as an adult.
Steampunk: The setting for Lightning Strikes is 19th century France with this aesthetic. Froissert has a wicked looking gauntlet on his left hand, there's a poster of Rosie the Riveter in regards to steam power, and there's an article about mechanisms replacing human workers during what looks like the French Industrial Revolution. The menu style will reflect the steampunk look if you choose it. For example, the diary becomes a steampunk-like scroll, and the Hint Top Hat will have a blinking meter at its side.
Stealth Pun: The hint button for Lightning Strikes is a top hat. It's a thinking cap.
Story Arc: The first five games completes the "Joyville" story arc.
Suddenly Voiced: Many of the characters become this beginning with Lost Town. The main character gets a voice in Lightning Strikes, confirming that the character is male.
Sweet Tooth: The bear cub in Lightning Strikes loves sweets, and will go with the detective if given a lollipop. A poster in the circus also confirms this: the cub is shown on a unicycle juggling numerous lollipops.
Tagalong Kid: Jean from Lightning Strikes. The main character even lampshades this and admits that Jean has been helpful. At the end of the bonus chapter, Jean ends up in the zeppelin, telling that a new mystery has come up for the two of them.
Taking the Bullet: The end of Destiny Undone has Felicia take a vial of acid that Cricks intended on her father, thus giving her the scars on her face.
In Lightning Strikes, Jean moves in the way of the living lamp post to take a blow for the main character. He ends up all right.
Time Machine: Felicia created one of these in the Collector's Edition of Lost Town, setting up the story for Return to Joyville.
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Return to Joyville reveals that Felicia was one. Destiny Undone shows that she's learned to accept her scars as an adult and the events of the first three games do not happen.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: In Mystery of Joyville all the Puppetmaster wanted to do was help his daughter regain her beauty and ability to walk. He even states that Simon would be his last victim...until he gets defeated.
Woman in White: The main character encounters a strange human-sized puppet all dressed in white in Lightning Strikes. That happens to be Marianna, Alessandro's beloved.
The X of Y: Mystery of Joyville and Souls of the Innocent.
Your Soul Is Mine: In Souls Of The Innocent, Felicia creates dolls for children to buy and uses them to suck out their souls in an attempt to obtain her beauty. The detective also meets up with a fortuneteller stuck in a type-writer doll.
Zeppelins from Another World: The main character rides one of these in the beginning of Lightning Strikes along with the zeppelin's owner, Froissert.