Entertainment is what humans use to escape the daily troubles of life. Before there were home computers, our entertainment was usually provided through something we created on our own: our imagination. Many game critics have been begging for developers to take a leap of faith into a world that we hadn’t been introduced to in one way or another. What if a game developer used their imagination to drive a story home into the hearts of every girl and boy by reminding them of the creative ability trapped in their mind? New developer Minority teamed up with Sony to create an experience that stems off such an idea.
Papo & Yo, a PS3 exclusive downloadable title, is a straight to the point platformer with no mix-up of other genres. The main character, Quico, is having family problems and he is attempting to run away from them the only way he knows how: using his imagination. Through the game’s subliminal storytelling and a mix of your creative spirit, you’ll be able to understand the sort of distress that the boy is going through.
BREAKING AWAY FROM A GAMER EXPERIENCE
Pure Imagination - Within five minutes of loading the game for the first time, I caught myself cheekily humming ‘Pure Imagination’. During the game, I felt like I was nine years old again: sitting in my room and playing LEGOs pretending that I was orchestrating a wonderful adventure that my mind had barely begun to comprehend. Introducing the main character as a pre-teen boy, you immediately feel what I previously described just by seeing the first cinematic and playing the first level of the game. Though Papo & Yo at its core does have one of the darkest storylines in this console generation, the plunge into the darkness with child-like aesthetics creates a state of confusion within the world of Quico’s mind until the story’s climax.
Emotional Connection - Connecting to a relevant crutch in human culture, the main character is going through struggles with his father that seem to torture him internally. I don’t want to spoil anything because it’ll ruin some of the effect that the events in the game have to offer. Clinging alongside the story, the music composed for the game sets a perfect mood for the chapter of Papo & Yo you are playing, creating a more immersive yet emotionally dampening experience. The art and environmental settings immediately remind me of Rio de Janeiro, especially because of some of the cues found in later chapters. It creates a child-like imaginative world that blends nicely with the music and story that is presented; featuring graffiti art and different colored buildings to mark significance, making the game easy on your creative palate.
Simple Platforming - Papo & Yo is a straight to the point platformer. It doesn’t really break out of the norm and do anything new or interesting but that’s not a problem at all. If the game had a more realistic setting, it would be. *SPOILER* As you’ll see in the last cut scene in the game, there is really nothing real about the world Quico explores with his toy Lulu. *END SPOILER* Through Lulu, you’ll be able to unlock new areas and jump farther than he could on his own reinforcing the objective nature for Quico.
Brain Teasers - The puzzles throughout the game seemed really easy and didn't give me much of a challenge. They seemed a little boring but later puzzles gave the challenge that I would have liked to have seen at the beginning of the game. One of the later levels offered simple puzzles at the beginning but towards the end of the level offered something more challenging and enticing.
FEARFUL AND DARK
Dated Graphics - From the first cutscene, you can see that Papo & Yo has out of date graphics. Honestly though, it didn’t really detract from the overall experience as the majority of the game was played from a wide third-person point of view. The few close-up shots did blatantly scream ‘I Am Alive' graphics to me. With the colorization of the world, the mark off is small.
Invisible Walls & Game Mechanics - Nothing depresses me more than seeing a great concept for a game losing gamers from playing their games when the game mechanics don’t work properly. For most of my time with the game, I went through the game not having many issues. In one of the final chapters where concentration and proper mechanics are needed most, invisible walls started materializing right in the middle of the path that I needed to follow to complete the level. Not only did these barriers prevent me from completing your tasks but other ones with no visible textures appear as you are supposed to fall, taking me out of the experience and causing a bit of frustration. Most games this wouldn’t bother me much but since the game grips you emotionally you lose that sense of humanity.
I know I’ve been saying this a lot here but there is something about this game that just makes it an experience that I hadn’t felt in a game before. Papo & Yo is a game that should be experienced by children of older ages, despite what corner of the earth they are from, despite what kind of life they’ve had. Minority, simply, has put together one of the most universal games released this console generation and for that, they should have nothing to worry about as any future titles should please audiences as long as they put as much tenderness into them as they did into Papo and Yo.
With some gameplay issues and darker themes, I can’t recommend this game as a purchase for all, but more mature gamers that have a PS3 should at least check out the demo to see if they are interested in the title. Papo & Yo creates a world that we’ve only just begin to imagine as we sit in front of our TV and PS3. From the first cinematic to the end of the credits, Minority created an experience that breaks from the stereotypical mundane downloadable titles giving a new experience that had yet to be seen.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*