Papo & Yo was developed by Canadian studio Minority, with Vander Caballero as creative director. It is a direct allegory for Vander Cabellero's childhood, in which he had a alcoholic father.
Papa & Yo is mostly based in an imaginary world created by Quico to understand his reality, however parts of real world make their way into the game as the story progresses. This is a puzzle platformer game in which a large part is learning to harness Monsters emotions, including his addiction to frogs.
Papo & Yo is a third-person puzzle game. Quico interacts with chalk drawings and symbols on the walls of his imagined world of Brazilian favelas. By pulling levers, turning keys, and reconnecting gears, Quico can alter a staid, often realistic-looking environment into a abstract, fantastical area, replete with leaning stacks of houses and wooden planks that grow legs to become friendly insects.
The game introduces new mechanics until the very end, but interactions include moving boxes that correspond to large houses in a grid, pulling ropes on walls to peel out their layer like a fruit, and directing the centipede plank Monster is asleep on along a chalk path.
When Quico acquires his robot friend Lula, he can send the robot across expanses to push otherwise unreachable chalk symbols and change the environment.
In each area, the player is given an exit to reach and the buildings and walls needed to reach it, with a little manipulation. However, often it is also imperative that the player bring Monster along on the journey.
Monster is a lumbering, usually sleepy or hungry creature. The player can lure him to stand on buttons or to fall asleep on flattened cardboard-box areas using golden coconuts that spawn in the area. A sleeping Monster becomes a trampoline to higher areas when Quico utilizes Monster's sizable gut.
Besides chalk interaction points and coconuts, there are also poisonous frogs. These neon-colored creatures can be picked up and thrown by Quico. If Quico is near a wall, the frogs will splat against it and die. If he is aiming at a animated pipe, the frogs will enter the pipe and allow progress in the level.
However, if a frog reaches Monster and he eats it, he changed form. Lumbering but docile becomes a flaming, fast-moving force. In his enraged form, Monster will chase Quico until the player reaches the safety of high ground.
The player can also, when available, use a piece of rotten blue fruit on Monster, making him pass out and bringing him out of his rage state.
Cross jumps (with Lula, hold to use her jet pack to hover), square interacts, circle throws held objects, and triangle launches Lula.
When stuck, a player can find a "hint" box that will give the player useful tips such as Lula being able to grab a rope. Quico sticks his head in the cardboard box and the player can choose to turn the box to read the hints on the side until they feel confident to return to the puzzle.
At the outset, Quico is huddling in a closet, holding onto his robot doll Lula, as the shadow of a monster crosses the closet door. A chalk pattern appears on the wall behind him, and he walks into it, transporting him into the world of the game.
Here he first encounters Alejandra, a young girl who leads Quico without explanation, pushing him and calling him "cursed" when Quico finally reaches her. Lula the robot, now talking and moving on her own, saves Quico from the fall and they venture onward.
The game soon flashes to a slow-motion vignette of the real world where Quico sits in the back of his father's car as they approach a pedestrian.
Alejandra keeps leading Quico despite her reservations, reuniting him with Monster, who Quico "frees" from his lair inside a giant metal enclosure. Quico, learning from Alejandra, leads Monster with coconuts until they reach an arena like area. Here, frogs first come into play. Monster at first obsessively reaches for the frogs in pipes he cannot open, but then free range frogs come out of the wall and Monster eats one. His angry, violent form takes over and he tries to kill Quico. When Quico manages to escape Monster, Alejandra says that he must cure the beast. To do so, he needs to follow her to a shaman. Quico says that Monster cannot control himself, and Quico wants to help him.
As the game progresses, Quico again flashes to the past on the road where his father is now standing outside of the car, and a seemingly dead body lies in the street nearby. Inside the car, Lula promises to protect Quico.
Back inside Quico's imaginary world, Monster breaks Lula. Alejandra explains that the only way to bring back Quico's friend is to trap Monster and push the anger out of him.
Quico uses a series of traps to release floating flames from Monster that re-energize Lula. The negative energy seems to become positive as it leaves Monster's body. With Lula reborn and a permanently angry Monster, Quico flees, following Alejandra and using Lula's powers to reveal a path to the shaman. Alejandra needs to finish the chalk line that opens a magical door, but, as she completes the task, Monster grabs and eats her, leaving Quico and Lula to find the cure.
Reaching the impromptu zipline-trolley/house to the shaman's mountain, Quico stands, divided from Monster by a impenetrable fence, as the house climbs into the clouds and away from all he did. Lula has to activate the extensive line between the house and the mountain, and, as the line only extends while he remains on its end, he cannot follow Quico upwards.
At the peak, Quico comes upon statues of Monster, Alejanrda, himself, and Lula. He speaks to a floating flame, the shaman, who tells him that there is no cure for Monster. Quico must instead accept the past and move on without Monster. Quico transforms the statues into their real life counterparts--Monster's anger becoming that of his human father, the pain he caused and the alcoholism he exhibited revealed.
With the past understood, Quico must lure Monster to their parting. Watching Monster from across a crevass, Quico throws items into Monster's world to move him toward Quico's goal. He throws bottles of alcohol through a pipe on his platform and watches it become a frog on the other side. Monster's rage builds with each frog until the area is wholly aflame and Quico pushes Monster onto the lower level.
Here's Quico uses simulacra of Alejandra, which, in Monster's world, become the real, frightened girl. As Monster destroys versions of her, a wooden path appears that Alejandra can use to escape. When Monster follows, he falls into the final area and lies dormant on a slab of wood.
Quico slowly pushes the slab to the edge and watches as Monster slides forward into the abyss. He then walks forward into a corridor in the sky, one that ends in the same pattern that he used to enter this world at the beginning. The credits roll.
Upon completion of the game for the first time, the player can now collect hats for Quico. The hats are on stuffed dolls which are hidden throughout the game. There are 25 hats in total. When the player approaches the doll, the doll's hat goes onto Quico's head until he finds the next one.