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Papo and Yo – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Thursday, 16 August 20122 Comments

There are games that are made for purely entertainment purposes, and then there are games that go beyond entertainment and reach a level of expression rarely seen in this industry. We Are Minority’s Papo and Yo is the latter. On the outside, Papo and Yo appears to be a simple puzzler involving a young boy and a menacing pink monster that eats frogs, but once you pick up the controller you’ll soon see that beyond its facade is a story about alcoholism and abuse.

Papo and Yo has players taking control of Quico, who with the help of Monster and his robot toy Lula solve a variety of platforming puzzles. Chalk drawings bring the magical world around him to life as walls and entire buildings transform and shift. The object is to simply progress through the Latin America barrio as you explore the relationship between Quico and Monster.

The puzzles are pretty straightforward, and typically involving having to push or pull a chalk rope or turn a chalk key. Lula can assist Quico by giving him an extra rocket boost when jumping hitting long distance switches. If you really get stuck, there are also cardboard boxes that provide hints at what to do next, although I suggest using them as a last resort as half the fun is figuring everything out on your own. Honestly, the gameplay is nothing special. It’s the story where the real creativity shines, if that’s what you can call it.

There’s no denying the heavy symbolism of the game. Creator Vander Caballero has explicitly said in interviews that Monster represents his abusive father. Quico needs Monster to progress through many of the puzzles, even though eating frogs turns Monster into a fiery rage-fueled beast that charges Quico with reckless abandon. It’s ferocious sight to behold, especially if Monster grabs a hold of the boy and tosses him around like a rag doll. The symbolism of it all only makes the experience more disturbing.

The opening scene shows Quico hiding in fear from his father. In order to get away, he must escape to this magical world where plain chalk can change the physics of objects and his best friend is a talking robot. As the game progresses, the two realities clash and merge. In one dream sequence about halfway through we see Quico’s father standing over a dead body, casting a shadow of Monster on the wall next to him. Caballero has created a game around his personal experiences and directly translates those experiences to the player, as disturbing as it may be.

Papo and Yo provides an emotional experience like no other that extends well beyond simple gameplay mechanics. There are a whole range of emotions that the game creates, especially with a hauntingly symbolic final act. I won’t spoil any of the details but it’s worth playing through the game for, trust me.

It’s evident that a lot of heart and soul was poured into Papo and Yo by both Vander Caballero and the entire team at We Are Minority. At the very least, give the demo a shot. Rest assured, the full game is worth every penny.