The review of Papo & Yo, 3rd person puzzle platformer from a couple of years ago that could have used a bit more work.
I have to wonder if I would have been more happy with this game on release. It did take nearly two years to finally tackle the title…but even then, I think that only goes to prove that the game will age poorly. I’m definitely going against the grain on this title. I don’t think it’s worth your time. After all, it wasn’t worth my time. I definitely thought long and hard on this one, as the review went through several drafts and redrafts before I felt confident in what I had to say.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Papo and Yo. Lacking in Interesting Characters or Puzzles.
- Genre: 3rd Person Puzzle Platformer Title
- Developed & Published by: Minority Media Inc.
- Platform: Windows Only
- Business Model: Base Game.
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts & Preamble
I was rather interested in giving this a whirl when it came out a few years ago. Fast-forward to this past week and I finally got a chance to try it out. Well, this game makes two major mistakes to me. First: the characters are given very little backstory or personality. You could swap in any person to fill the role of these characters and it would come off as the same. The other problem is the puzzles themselves. They mostly range from really easy to unnecessarily frustrating. Not even the good kind of frustrating, just time-wasting frustration. So, let’s dig in and talk about Papo & Yo.
I’ve seen comments been made that the game’s story is subtle and full of meaning. I found that it was rather blunt and in your face with its themes about living with people that abuse alcohol. I mean, a shadow in the shape of Monster behind a guy, it’s just not that subtle. The toy getting destroyed by Monster wasn’t all that subtle. I do recall that I wanted to know more about the main character, more about this mysterious girl who’s guiding you around. Instead, you’re given very little information. The story seems content to focus on one little part of the boy’s past. It’s hard to get invested when you’re not given any character to invest into. So, if I can’t get invested in the characters or story, all that’s left is the gameplay. And for the most part, it’s boring.
A lot of the puzzles consist of getting monster from one place to the other using what few items and environment puzzle pieces you have at your disposal. Most of the time though, it’s climbing up ladders, doing very basic platforming, puzzling with levers, switches and buttons. Each puzzle is overly long and unsatisfying to finish. I can’t help but get the impression they were put in to stretch the game out. Especially when one particular puzzle has you climbing all over rooftops and platforms to collect around 10 pieces of building in order to finish it. There isn’t a lot of nuance, its figuring out the quirk of the puzzle you’ve stumbled upon and then sinking however many hours the puzzle decides you need to until you finish it.
It’s got texture, shadow, AA, light shafts, motion blur, bloom, depth of field and all other graphic settings a 3rd person game requires to tweak. Most, however, are on/off switches but at least you have options to optimize your experience. Not that I think you’ll need to tweak with them much, the game isn’t very demanding. You may need to tune up the gamma settings as the game seemed really dark to me.
Finishing the game isn’t tough. However, this is one particular journey that I didn’t feel better for having experienced. I think the main problem lies in the characters themselves. I felt no investment into them, no reason to find moments evocative when perhaps I should have. It feels like this subject has been handled better elsewhere. Add that problem to the other problem of the simple, time-wasting puzzles that were far more frustrating than they should have been. I don’t recommend this title. This has been done better.
Thanks for reading!