Released in August last year exclusively on the PlayStation Network, Papo & Yo told a deep story with interesting results. To further extend the chance of people experience this touch but dark story, Minority Media have release Papo & Yo on Steam. How does the game stand up to the PSN version and is it worth your time anyway?
Papo & Yo sees you take control of a young boy named Quico. Entering this favela inspired world, Papo & Yo exhibits environmental puzzles that twists and transforms everything around you. Throughout the areas there is a bright outline of switches, levers, and cogs that allow you to manipulate buildings and other scenery around you. This ranges from the building moving to peeling the scenery to create bridges and new areas to explore.
All these are to encompass the environmental puzzles that are never really a challenge to figure out. Those that are looking for puzzles to bend you mind and leave you stumped need not apply; The puzzles aren’t too simplistic either which require to move from one area to another to figure out the entire puzzle but each puzzle only has one solution too meaning there’s little to no room for experimenting.
Quico is not alone in this world either. Along the way he meets a girl that keeps impeding him along the way, a trusty robot friend called Lula that helps solve puzzles and allows Quico to double-jump and then the centre of the entire game in terms of gameplay and story, a monster named monster.
The monster is both Quico’s best friend, and biggest threat. Most of the time, you help monster navigate the levels by unlocking gates and paths for him to make it through. However, if he eats a frog, then the tame and lazy monsters will begin to burn and in a literal red fury, chase you down and toss you about. He can never hurt you, nor can you do, but the violence inflicted by this monster is quite vicious, especially given the context.
Papo & Yo is a two-layer game. On the surface, this is an incredibly inspired world, all manifested in a young boy’s mind, but these people he meets in his world are real, even if they look different in the real world. Monster is the boy’s visual representation of how he sees his own father. Sometimes his timid and helping Quico get out of situations and saving him, but should the monster turn, the first one to feel his wrath is Quico.
The story is inspired by the creative director’s childhood and when that is taken into consideration it goes from being a deep fictional story to a brave and sometimes unsettling true story all covered in a layer of environmental puzzles and great locales to visit.
I’ll be perfectly honest: At times I felt a little uneasy because of how much this man’s life was out there, for everyone to play at will. It’s an extremely personal story, one filled with a lot of pain which can be clearly seen, but then it all clicked.
The game covers themes that, unfortunately, are quite common these days. Domestic abuse and abusive elders are stories you hear growing up in the schoolyard that you just pass off because you’re too young to comprehend just how much this may affect that child later on in his life.
Papo & Yo then stops being a game about being abused but rather a game about stand up to any type of abuse and becoming stronger than before, a transformation you see Quico go through. By the end, all uneasiness is removed and in its place and a proud sense of never letting anything that has hurt you affect your life. It may also help young people understand the situation more and know there’s always a positive solution.
Papo & Yo is a brave game in its narrative, but it’s also a fun game to play. It lasts between three to four hours but it’s another great title from another great up and coming indie studio.