Review: Papo & Yo
Papo & Yo may well be the video game equivalent of catharsis, the emotional cleansing of the body. It’s a beautiful, personal piece that will undoubtedly set off a few eyes in people who play it. Its a uniquely personal tale, told with allegory for the most part, with occasional trips into direct metaphor to really drive the point home. While a swathe of technical issues set the game back, if you persevere through them, you’ll find a game that, while sparse in forms of interaction, tells a tale well worth hearing.
The game has to take control of Quico, telling you the story of his relationship with Monster. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who Monster represents, but the game is more than happy to hint along the way. With Monster, the game shifts from a straight platformer to an environmental playground. You’re going to find yourself performing much of the same actions along the way, but it’s the way the game presents those actions that makes it all feel so spectacular. From crate puzzles that become moving around entire houses, to a tower formed from buildings that shifts at your command, the game uses its assets to the best of its ability.
However, once Monster eats a frog, things take a turn for the worse. His rage is almost palpable as he chases you down, only to bite and throw you away. The first thing I noticed when that happened though, is that he never kills Quico. You know that this destruction is purely fueled by these frogs, and that there is still some of the friendly Monster tucked away in there. These chase sequences are intense, panicked runs through the very environments you were peacefully traversing earlier, with Monster always being a step behind you. It’s distinctly reminiscent of something like the Clock Tower series, but with less severe repercussions for failure.
While Papo & Yo’s gameplay is solid, the game is on shaky ground from a technical standpoint. The frame rate gets severely cut when the Monster’s fiery state emerges, and there’s noticeable tearing throughout the game. In addition to this, there are clipping issues and sometimes glitches that make it difficult to perform harder jumps. Its a shame, because when everything in Papo & Yo works, the game is wonderful to experience. The visuals, while not cutting edge, have a style all of their own, and the music is absolutely fantastic. When you’re exploring some of the game’s more colourful environments, with the music peacefully playing in the background, it’s an experience like no other.
Papo & Yo is a decent game elevated by the message it sends. While most games flirt with sensitive subjects, Papo genuinely tackles these things, and gives you some of the most striking images I’ve ever seen in a game. It isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it has more courage than anything you’ve ever played.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Tells an emotionally engaging story about a personal subject
- Fantastic music and visual design
- The way you interact with the world
What I Dislike:
- Technical issues galore
- Some poor signposting at times
- Some people may find it short