Puzzle-platformers are no rare breed on PSN, but one upcoming title, Papo & Yo, is looking to revitalize the genre in a number of intriguing ways. Introduced in early June on the PlayStation.Blog, Papo & Yo tells the story of Quico, a young boy who has an unlikely best friend: a giant hulking beast named, appropriately, Monster. Together, the duo must navigate an ethereal world that’s reminiscent of a South American town but is set entirely in Quico’s imagination. The world itself is made up of dream-like neighborhoods to roam and populated with puzzles to solve.
After getting my hands on the game at E3, it didn’t take long to notice the unique approach developer Minority is taking when it comes to navigation and puzzle solving. Controlling Quico from a third-person perspective, I wandered a bit around Papo & Yo’s surreal world. Players can easily run and jump around the expansive environments, and also use visual cues to direct Monster (as well as a cute little flying robot named Lula) to points of interest. Utilizing all three characters to solve puzzles is key to progressing in the game, and once you learn a few basics—Monster is good at moving heavy objects, for example, and Lula can reach high areas inaccessible to Quico—the gameplay becomes surprisingly intuitive.
What really impressed me while playing is how the world changes according to Quico’s actions. Picking up a series of unassuming boxes near a line of houses causes the actual individual houses to lift off the ground and move according to where Quico places the boxes. Placing the boxes inside a nearby chalk outline causes the houses to create a rooftop bridge for Quico to cross. The entire segment really helped highlight the dream-like nature of Papo & Yo’s world.
There is, however, a dark side to Papo & Yo. If Monster happens to come across a poisonous frog (his favorite snack) and eat it, he’ll be thrown into a frenzied rage that puts Quico’s life in danger. Papo & Yo creative director Vander Caballero explained that Monster’s addiction to poisonous frogs is meant as an analogy to his own father’s substance abuse, which greatly affected the developer when he was a young boy (like Quico). Preventing Monster from eating the frogs, or hightailing Quico away from him if he does, is key to survival throughout the game.
There’s still plenty more of Papo & Yo that I can’t wait to see, but the game is already looking and playing wonderfully. Keep your eyes on the PlayStation.Blog for more news down the line.