Developer(s) – Minority
Publisher(s) – Minority
Designer – Vander Caballero
PEGI – 12
Papo & Yo is an adventure game similar to how The Last Guardian plays out. However, due to a great number of factors, and problems plaguing this title, I would hardly call this game a placeholder.
Graphics – 6/10
The best thing I can say about the game’s visuals is that the atmosphere varies greatly from place to place, keeping the overall feel of the game either intense or calm according to which areas the player is progressing through. Apart from that, however, the game’s visual design is conceptually weak as well as graphically questionable, containing some noticeable glitches throughout as well as inconsistent textural design; particularly concerning the character Monster.
Gameplay – 5/10
The objective of Papo & Yo is pretty straightforward; navigate through a linear progression solving puzzles and guiding a huge monster for the most part. The puzzle-solving element is fairly elaborate, but I was particularly disappointed to find how just how linear the game is. I thought that with the multiple paths there are to take, to begin with, there would have been much more to find than there is. But the only thing to do aside from the story progression is to find each Easter egg of a teddy bear tied to a plank of wood. Some of them can be pretty hard to find, but the side quest offers extremely little in the way of replay value.
Controls – 8/10
Even though this gaming formula has been done many times before, and a lot more has been done in previous games in the genre than in this, the controls feel quite stiff, and sometimes, even platform detection can be inconsistent. Otherwise, there are no other problems, and it is quite clever how the tutorial system is handled, in the form of cardboard boxes that can be found throughout the course of the game explaining the control scheme to players.
Lifespan – 1/10
Clocking in at merely 2 hours tops, a 3D platformer to have this short a lifespan is utterly unforgivable in my opinion; especially when there was so much room to add so much more depth in gameplay than what there turned out to be. This game to me, like Banjo-Kazooie, may be a sign of the direction the industry is going. However, I think following a trend like this would have an extremely negative impact. The fact that this came from the indie movement, where many games have more depth in gameplay than even mainstream releases, is also a cause for concern.
Storyline – 7/10
The story of the game is by far the best aspect of it, which is why I believe it may prove to be a negative sign of the times. It follows a young boy named Quico, who whilst suffering the latest tirade from his dysfunctional father, suddenly finds himself in a strange world where he must guide a monster around in order to solve various puzzles throughout. The game’s director, Vander Caballero, based the story on his childhood, whereby he, unfortunately, suffered continuous abuse from his own father, and through the game’s story, players will be able to sense the full force of his conviction throughout, at least making the game memorable for its pretty immersing narrative.
Originality – 5/10
Taking into account how well the game’s story does to differentiate it from other games, it still leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of gameplay in my opinion, as well as visual presentation. There’s no reason to suggest why the game’s core concept couldn’t be built upon in the development of a spiritual successor, but the original game, unfortunately, does little to stand out among some of the better 3D platformers released throughout the years.
To summarize, Papo & Yo, despite its decent story, is a particularly flawed game and could’ve done with a lot more added to make it much more of immersing gaming experience. It may be argued that a smaller budget may result in a smaller game, but there have already been a plethora of indie developers who have proved that wrong and that the only limits are within the developer’s imagination.