Papo & Yo is one of those great games I never hear anyone actually talk about. You play as Quico, exploring the beautifully authentic South American favela with the twist that it can be manipulated and transformed in any way Quico likes via the power of his imagination. Suddenly this downtrodden environment bursts into life with the whimsical, upbeat charm it so desperately needs. This makes for such a unique space to play in and it’s so far from anything I’d ever seen or explored previously that it was automatically magnetic to me. Then there’s the big fella you’ll be sharing it with!
Along for the ride is his best friend, Monster, who you must learn to work with, using both his strengths and weaknesses in your favour. Though Quico himself does a lot of the heavy lifting too… Moving pieces of the world, pushing gears into place, creating bridges and generally climbing here, there and everywhere just to name a few things. But they still need each other. They make a good team… Usually. Sometimes Monster’s bad habits can get the better of him, landing you in hot water, so be cautious. Though he isn’t the only one that you should be keeping an eye on throughout the story.
You’ll also meet a few others along the way who will both help and impede you on your quest to find a cure and save a friend. But you’ll come to form relationships with them as you bump into one another from time to time. Having these characters just out of reach only makes them more intriguing the further down the rabbit hole you go as you try to figure out their motivations. It’s definitely refreshing to have them mixed in with the usual puzzle gameplay instead of simply getting burnt out doing puzzle over puzzle for the sake of it. They have their reasons to be there and you have yours.
The developers of this game had some serious guts sticking to their guns when it comes to the plot. Not only is each element of the topic handled extremely maturely but they’re executed beautifully as well. That needs to be commended considering how easily it could have been screwed up and the potential implications that could have followed that. It’s an issue rarely touched on by games, but Papo & Yo is a game that shows off the power of gaming as a storytelling medium. I could talk about it here, but I’d rather you experience what I did by playing it yourself. Just trust me on that one.
It’s stunningly beautiful, charming beyond belief and clever as a fox. Both in gameplay and story, which is a compliment only rarely achieved. It may not be the most polished or longest title out there, but it’s most certainly one of my favourites for what it offers! Give it a try… Also, this was torturous to write without simply blurting everything out. So hopefully I did it justice with those limitations in mind!