My Papo & Yo Review
It is rare for me to come across an artistic stylized game that doesn’t grab me. As interesting as Papo & Yo story and even back story is, something about it left me not caring to keep picking it up and continuing through it. A big part of that was the repetitive puzzle platforming game play, but even the characters felt kind of dull for the most part.
Papo & Yo (Dad and Me) is based off the childhood of the game’s creator Vander Caballero, who grew up with an alcoholic father. That right there hits you when finding that out, the idea that he took such a tragedy and was able to make something unique out of it and share his experience with the world is amazing. You play as a young South American boy by the name of Quico. You find yourself in a fantasy world of imagination, which honestly should be grander on some scale, being a child’s imagination is out right the most grand compared to adults. This fantasy world greatly resembles that of some slums of a Colombian favela.
Quico has two main friends in this game that are both very strange and unique in their own rights. There is Lula a toy mech looking robot that will help you from time to time with puzzles and then there is Monster, yeah Monster a giant pinkish skinned creature that makes this game feel like an absurd version of A Boy and His Blob. He too will help throughout the game, but not exactly on his own accord. You seem to have to carouse him to go where you want and to do what you need him to do. At most times he is just big simple minded creature, but there is times you need to get him to do something by allowing him to eat frogs, which will send him into a psychotic rage where is body literally turns a blaze and he bashes on anything in his way, including young Quico.
It is made clear by this game and by Vander Caballero himself that the relationship between Quico and Monster is based on his very own relationship with his abusive alcoholic father. Here however, Monster is addicted to frogs and when he eats one he goes from apathetic wandering around or sleeping to blind rage wrecking havoc on anything and everything in his sight.
Papo & Yo is a very lightweight puzzle platformer that consists of nothing more than jumping and turning of switches throughout the world. It doesn’t puzzle you much at all, mostly it seems to be used to slow you down as a character and as the player of the game, making it stretch out the length of the game in an attempt to make it seem like there is more meat there than what there really is. The addition of using Lula and Monster isn’t even enough to make things too complicated. On top of this, all the puzzles make the game feel completely repetitive by the time you are halfway through it, not to mention a lot of the scenery constantly looks the same for a good majority of time.
Puzzles are being made by a young girl that is also in this fantasy world, she is able to draw doors to walk through, gears, switches and other gadgets from chalk outlines that create three-dimensional objects in this world. This is where the game is repetitive and most of all where the characters and story break. She seems to be helping you through, so why make all these challenges for Quico to stumble through? And again, the puzzles don’t really change and this is all you have to do throughout the game. You can see clearly in each section everything you have to interact with, so you interact with everything until everything is in its new place for Quico to get around and move onto the next section where you do the same thing all over again.
Unfortunately Papo & Yo suffers more then it entertains. The storytelling although interesting comes off very flat, which doesn’t help with the characters of the game being nothing more then over animated Sims speaking in gibberish. This hurts as a whole as it is easy to tell the over all idea that was put into motion. Papo & Yo could have used more depth to it in all areas. The story feels underwhelming, the characters are bland at best and the game play is simple and doesn’t offer much more than a few key things. I was really looking forward to this game for over a year as a kept hearing about it out of things like E3 2011, but now that I have played this game I wish more time and effort was put into this game. I guess you can’t complain too much for a PSN title that does offer some originality.