I have never encountered a game with a story that is like opening a children’s story book for the first time and reading it with the mind of a child with a wild imagination. Papo & Yo focuses on bringing you a world filled with strange monsters, characters, and puzzles that show you what happens when you put all of these together in a story driven adventure. But, does it give you the satisfying experience you are after? Read on to find out.
Papo & Yo places you in the role of Quico, a little boy who has run away from home to get away from an abusive and alcoholic father. Quico has the ability to turn the world/environment into a dream like world. There is certainly a sense of child-like imagination running throughout the game, and this happens to be the main theme of the game. You come across your sister throughout various areas, chasing her throughout different parts of town. You’ll find chalk drawings on different walls drawn by your sister, left for you to find. By turning different switches or pushing in gears, you create the ability to easily move objects in your path to solve puzzles. I found myself only getting confused by some of the timed sections, which you’ll find later in the game.
By pulling these levers, switches, and gears you have a new way to look at the world as you cross across the different levels. There really isn’t a sense of difficulty as you progress through the game, as in the beginning of each area the game shows you essentially what you need to do to finish the objective in front of you. But if you feel so inclined you can change the difficulty either mid game or in the beginning when you first start your session. Although there isn’t any voice acting the game, it relies fully on its script and text speech to engross you into the storyline to engage you in the characters, and I have to say that Papo & Yo successfully manages that. You begin to feel a relationship building between you and the main character, Quico, even if you can’t relate to his family situation.
There is a powerful relationship that builds between his sister and the characters Quico meets along the way. You’ll run into a toy robot that will help you reach far places, adding a sort of “double jump” to your abilities. He also lends you direction in certain areas to keep you on your toes. When it comes to Monster, you can use his giant belly to reach high places. By feeding him fruits you’ll be able to guide him in the direction you need him to go to push heavy buttons in the level or use his belly when he goes to sleep. However, if he eats a frog he turns into a wild beast that chases you around the level. You’ll have to quickly find a fruit to calm him down before he keeps you from advancing in the level.
I would argue that although the gameplay can feel like a chore (considering it is a puzzle game), it is worth it just because of the story driven experience. It’s rough around the edges but does give you a sense of accomplishment.
As far as the presentation is concerned, the game has an interesting art direction. You’ll notice the poverty like conditions throughout the village you are traveling through as well as the child-like appearance of the environments you do encounter. The game unfortunately has a few graphical hiccups here and there that could be game ruining depending on whether you want to look past them or if you are really picky. The design of Quico is simple and he seems to be able to show a sense of emotion when you pull through the story and during key sequences, including the ending. The game has a great soundtrack. The chorus alongside the guitar themes and overall orchestrated sounds gives the game a sense of excitement and rhythm. It helps keep your interest in solving the current puzzle at hand. It’s then unfortunate that the frame rate stutters and skips and you’ll notice glitches with Monster – whether it’s trying to go through walls or certain areas. It’s a shame because when the game runs, it runs great and it’s nice to see the environments you interact with crumble before you, or light up during a cinematic sequence when you complete a puzzle.
Finally, Papo & Yo is a hard game to grade when you pull everything together. There are times where you feel connected to the experience even if you can’t relate to Quico’s family troubles. The game has a great concept and finishes it off with a wonderful ending, but when it comes to the individual parts that make or break the game, you’ll be hard pressed to find a happy medium when you get further in the game. Therefore, I wouldn’t pick up Papa & Yo at its purchase price but rather see if you can find the game at a discount, or even as a gift. If you are willing to look past its faults then you shouldn’t have any problem finding enjoyment with the game – it does have a great story and character design. It’s up to you to decide if that’s what you’re looking for in the game.
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 8/10
Gameplay/Design – 7.5/10
Visuals – 7/10
Sound – 8.5/10
Lasting Appeal – 7/10
Overall – 7.5/10
(Not an average)
(Reviewed on PC – Review code provided by Minority. Thanks from the team at OnlySP!)
Platforms: PC, Playstation 3
Ratings: E10+ (ESRB), (PEGI)