Papo & Yo (PS3)
Developed by Minority
Published by Minority
Released August 14, 2012
Review Written January 10, 2014
Papo & Yo is a short title that is intertwined with creativity and imagination. Developed by Minority, Papo & Yo is a refreshing puzzle platformer that derives similar game style and elements from the same vein as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Although Papo & Yo isn’t entirely in the same tier as Ico or its counterpart, it still engulfs the player with intrigue through visual narrative, a wonderful soundtrack, and a plot that can be interpreted through many lenses.
With a fairly short four hour single player campaign, Papo & Yo plays with the idea of a child’s imagination and incorporating it through environmental manipulation. All of the puzzles within the game require you to either move a building to use as a stepping stone or move parts of your environment to advance to a new area. Albeit most of the puzzles are fairly easy, they do become more challenging as you progress while not being too overbearing in difficulty. If necessary, throughout the entire campaign there is also some hand holding available with the use of hint boxes. I found myself using them more for the trickier puzzles, but often the solution was staring me in the face without me realizing it.
You play as a young boy named Quico and control him through third person view. Using his favorite toy Lula as a jetpack and the mysterious Alejandra as a guide, Quico sets out to traverse a strange terrain while also meeting a gluttonous beast named Monster. You start the game as confused as Quico is and learn more about the world he’s in with every step. The plot of Papo & Yo was a big factor that helped captivate me to finish the game in one sitting. The story truly makes you want to know more about what is being shown as much of the story isn’t really explained until the very end. Luckily with this, Papo & Yo is fun for the four hours it offers but doesn’t really give much beyond that. After finishing my first playthough I didn’t really feel the need or want to replay. For this I was glad that the game ends before becoming too stale and having just the right amount of ambiguity to not leave the player too lost in story and in interest.
Beyond that, the game has fairly solid mechanics and a few glitches but none that truly ruin the experience. In my two playthroughs I only ran into two invisible wall glitches, but they were both out of the way so I was always able to get around them. The visuals aren’t super breathtaking, but they do accomplish what the developers intended with the environment manipulation. The soundtrack is also something to be acknowledged as it is phenomenal. The music was strongest during key moments when the player is most vulnerable; musically matching the tone of the scene as well as the emotions that the players and Quico are feeling in the moment.
That leads me to state as well, the ending is a punch to the gut emotionally as a character comes to terms with his situation while leaving the viewer pondering what will come to pass. Using a child’s imaginative view to explain events happening in his own life was an interesting gaming aspect to me personally. I felt the game emanated themes of abuse and guilt but the beauty of Papo & Yo’s story is that it’s open to anyone’s interpretation as the story could be viewed with many different meanings.
As I started this short journey, I was left in awe of the puzzle structure manipulation and of the ambiguous storyline which eventually comes full circle by the ending. Papo & Yo may require some reading between the lines, but not much as you’ll quickly connect the dots with your own interpretations as you play. With a surprisingly emotional story, I recommend buying Papo & Yo for at least one playthrough to enjoy the artistic value of this alluring game.
Review Written by John of The Time Heist