Posted: January 9, 2014
I am outraged that I have never seen this game before getting it in the Humble Bundle. The fact that Papo & Yo got almost no attention while Gone Home got game of the years, 10/10s, and several thousands articles written about it frustrates me to no end. Not only is Papo & Yo a good game, it does more for story telling and social commentary than any video game I can think of.
Here's the important part first. Purely as a game, it is a good game. The player is required to solve a series of platforming puzzles that gradually become more complex the further in they go. None of them were incredibly difficult. Most of the difficultly comes from figuring out how you're suppose to use a new mechanic or item and then adding it to larger problems. Using the classic system of introduce, teach, then impliment, it makes sure the player is never confused. I was only once stumped enough to restart the level, thinking I had broken the game. However, I had just not been looking hard enough at the answer staring me in the face. Other than solid platform puzzling there's nothing completely amazing. It does what it does well and is definitely worth the Humble Bundle price.
Now for extra bullox.
Papo & Yo is not 2deep4you. In fact, it states the symbolism of the monster in the first few seconds of starting the game, but everything about the game manages to be abstract enough to make the player think and form their own interpetations. It is rather light on story, focusing instead on the gameplay itself. What this game aces is the use of gameplay to tell the story. From the beginning, the player should know that the monster is an abusive parent, but nothing else is ever stated. The interaction between the boy and the monster in the form of puzzle solving mechanics reveals their relationship. There is no walking around reading notes. Very little of the story is spoon-fed. This combination of gameplay and story is what makes Papo & Yo so fantastic. It is telling a story about social issues by the means of a video game, not by a collection of text files.
And the best part is that this social commentary goes beyond first-world, white people problems. It covers problems of child abuse, alcoholism, and class issues, which I feel are much bigger problems in the world than sexuality. Quite honestly, I didn't understand the story at first because I have never been in any similar situations. Still, I was able to feel for the central characters far more than any other attempts at video game social commentary because I was involved with the basics of the relationship through gameplay.
If video games want to be taken seriously they never will
, they need to bring to light world issues that don't involve the internet and Papo & Yo does that excellently.
I'm sure someone else could say this far more eloquently than I ever could. Papo & Yo is a good game and is a fantastic example of how to mix gameplay and a serious, non-action story into an enjoyable and emotional experience.