informa
4 min read
News

Papo & Yo: What the critics are saying

"Papo & Yo is a moving allegory about family, abuse, and the power of imagination to rise above," though its "charm wears thin near the end" with its "pointless push/pull puzzles."
Today's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Minority Media's PlayStation 3 adventure game Papo & Yo, which reviewers describe as "a moving allegory about family, abuse, and the power of imagination to rise above." Papo & Yo currently earns a score of 68 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Game Informer's Matt Miller scores Papo & Yo at 8 out of 10, calling it "a triumph of imagination." "Created as a parable about creative director Vander Caballero's childhood experience with an alcoholic father, this narrative puzzle game slowly tells a challenging and thought-provoking message," Miller explains. "Papo & Yo is a moving allegory about family, abuse, and the power of imagination to rise above." Miller continues: "The game opens on Quico, a young boy hiding in a closet as something monstrous stalks outside the door. A magic passage in the back of the wardrobe offers escape into the South American favela that Quico calls home, and with the help of chalk lines on the cement, Quico's imagination transforms the shanty buildings into a grand adventure through which he can leap and climb." Miller finds that the game's story takes priority over its gameplay. "Papo & Yo involves moving and pushing boxes, timed platforming, lever pulling, and other familiar activities," he notes. "These exercises are only moderately challenging and usually linear in structure. "While the puzzles themselves rarely astound, the magic of the experience comes from the way those puzzles affect the world, changing what might be an overly simplistic challenge into a surprising and memorable moment. [...] Nearly everything in the game is an analogue to something greater and more significant." Sterling McGarvey at Games Radar gives Papo & Yo 3 out of 5 stars. "This PlayStation 3 exclusive platformer and puzzle game uses symbols and metaphors just as handily as it utilizes makeshift staircases and levers," he begins. "It's undoubtedly one of the most unique and personal games to come along in some time. Yet, on many occasions, it suffers shortcomings that prevent it from delivering a truly powerful impact." "There's a real sense of awe within Papo & Yo," McGarvey praises. "In many instances, there are great opportunities to look around and appreciate the vibrant, imaginative, and colorful art style on display. And as you work your way through its puzzles, which are designed to open up and toy with Quico's surroundings, the game does an excellent job of conveying a sense of accomplishment and reward, chiefly through providing aesthetically pleasing cutscenes." However: "It's unfortunate that for the many powerful emotional beats that Papo & Yo executes so effectively, its mechanics can't match," McGarvey warns. "The gameplay starts off dazzling, and you'll be smiling ear to ear as you magically create a makeshift bridge by manipulating a group of houses to stack together. However, the charm wears thin near the end, as the variations on puzzles -- plus the temporary loss of certain important abilities, like double jumps -- can't mask a lack of gameplay variety." "Papo & Yo is undeniably one of the most unique PSN games you'll encounter," McGarvey continues. "It's a game that's as frustrating as it is dazzling. If you're willing to approach it with the understanding that it's a decidedly uneven experience, it's one worth considering, especially if your game tastes skew toward the unconventional." IGN's Mitch Dyer rates Papo & Yo at 4 out of 10. "Papo & Yo achieves what others don't bother to: it is purified emotional expression in adventure game form," he writes. "Sadly (and it truly is an upset) its successes start and stop there." Dyer cites the simplistic puzzle design as a particularly glaring issue. "Solutions reveal themselves instantly, and it becomes less about problem solving and more about your patience for pointless push/pull puzzles," he recalls. "Each switch you flip serves only to open up another switch that needs flipping, only now it's up a set of stairs that wasn't there before. Doors open because you press triangle when instructed. [...] Puzzles are about process, not challenge, so there's no sense of reward for what you accomplish." "One could make the argument that the tedium represents Quico's struggle," Dyer admits. "This is an especially compelling case when he meets Monster, a big beast who exists to restrict Quico's progress. The alcoholism and abuse metaphor is clear as day when Monster hurts the boy after eating irresistible frogs he's addicted to, and, once again, we're back to father/son issues. "The problem with this is that Papo & Yo sacrifices the player experience for the sake of proving a point. It's a rare case of substantial, emotional meaning supporting gameplay -- Papo & Yo just leans too heavily toward its message to service the actual interactions."

Latest Jobs

Treyarch

Playa Vista, California
6.20.22
Audio Engineer

Digital Extremes

London, Ontario, Canada
6.20.22
Communications Director

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, California
6.20.22
Senior Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
6.20.22
Lead UI Programmer
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more