Papo & Yo

In terms of the audio and visuals, Papo & Yo is really neat, and it has some uncommon influences, which I like to see in games. But the gameplay is a little too crude. The platforming puzzles are mostly a matter of interacting with objects in the order you come upon them, each allowing you to move slightly further, with some tedious busywork. You do a few things with block placement very early on, and that’s about as complex as the mechanics ever get.

Simple things like running and jumping around seem joyless as well, though it’s obvious that things like that were never the game’s focus. It might just be that the player character doesn’t really interact with things like walls and ledges when moving around, and tends to ghosts through things like soccer balls and the tops of ladders. But it’s a 3D indie game from a small developer, so the bar should probably be set low here.

More importantly, interactivity isn’t leveraged in any particularly compelling ways, There’s “interactive storytelling” of the sort where you push the control stick forward during a kind of cutscene, and it reminded me of those heavy-handed dream sequences in Mass Effect 3. Rather than a 3 hour game, it probably would’ve been better as a 20 minute animated short. It’s a good foil for a game like Brothers, which was also a mechanically simple puzzle-platformer, but one with new gameplay ideas, and far better fitted by its medium.

The reviewer believes this game stands above total mediocrity. It has something going for it, but ultimately few real merits. Most of the time, it isn’t fun, and doesn’t otherwise provide any sort of emotional payoff. Even though it does some cool things, you should play something else instead.

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