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Papo & Yo – E3 Preview

June 10, 2011 Written by Ray Conley

If there is one PSN title that you want to put on your radar, Papo & Yo would be a strong contender for that position. Developed by Minority Inc. and Vander Caballero (Creative Director), this simple game opened up an experience that was truly unique, and a fresh break from the rehashed traditional methods of gameplay, with it even managing to pull at a few heart strings as I lost myself in a world full of interactive and imaginative innocence.

Papo & Yo, a game that is based off of Caballero’s childhood, explores an imaginative reality where the players take control of a young South American boy while discovering the complex friendship he shares with Monster, a pink rhinoceros-like creature who has a hankering for poisonous frogs that send him into a violent rage when he indulges into his addictive treat. While that aggression has underlying metaphors of the addictive struggles with Caballero’s father, Papo & Yo attempts to paint that conflict in broad strokes to allow others the chance to find their own associations of personal conflicts. The fact that the main character is a child, only puts more emphasis on the vulnerability of the player. Vander also commented that as the Quico progress through the story, he begins to lose items of his clothing, thus increasing his sensitivity to the world around him.

Aside from the embedded analogies of addiction and frailty, Papo & Yo delivers very imaginative and artistic gameplay. While playing through the demo, I was thoroughly engrossed with the platforming puzzles that required some light teamwork with his small robot companion. With the robot’s help, Quico can summon him to activate parts of the level from simple requests like pulling on a rope, or the boy can control houses with the simple effort of moving cardboard boxes, and then use the roof tops as stepping stones to cross a chasm.

While the description of that gameplay seems opaque and far-fetched, Caballero intentionally wanted the levels’ solutions comparable to a child’s imagination. “When designing the game, I took a step back and wondered how a kid would solve these puzzles,” he said.

Even though my play through Quico’s world was short, that time was enough to kindle a desire to escape further in his reality and to explore the emotional undertones of the world he shared with his conflicted friend Monster. Granted, while some may not care to understand or see the artistic message of Caballero’s personal story, the uniqueness of the gameplay and puzzle elements are sure to give gamers their own private and personal adventure.

Papo & Yo is currently planned to hit the PSN at an unannounced date in early 2012, for more on the game be sure to read our exclusive interview with Caballero right here.