Papo & Yo Preview (PSN)

June 7, 2012Written by Dan Oravasaari

Personal tragedy has always been a source of inspiration for many mediums, but it’s not something that has ever been as apparent in the gaming industry as it is in Papo & Yo, a PSN title developed over the last year by Montreal-based studio, Minority.

Papo & Yo stars a boy named Quico, who uses an imaginative world to hide from the horrors of the real world. In this magical world he must learn to solve puzzles by experimenting with an abstract environment. On top of managing the landscape, he is faced with a number of characters that seemingly try to help him, but seem to have alternative motivations. A mysterious young female whose intentions are unknown, a frog addicted male figure named Monster, and a supportive robotic female named, Lula… These characters become the driving force to keep Quico moving through this magical dream world.

As simple as the concept of traversing a puzzle-filled dream world might be, the world of Papo & Yo is based on Minority Design Director, Vander Caballero’s childhood experiences. Caballero’s family life as a child was spent being protected by his mother from an aggressive, alcoholic father. Using these hardships, Caballero shapes the world of Papo & Yo to represent his use of escapism and want to help his father free himself of his addiction. This premise underlays the world that Quico must venture, as he uses Lula’s help to free Monster from his addiction to frogs. As such there is a growing complexity from not only the environment, but with the relationships that Quico has with Monster and Lula.

Layered upon this dark tale, Papo & Yo comes off as a simple puzzle platformer set in a magical environment that can come off inconspicuous to anyone not seeing the underlying themes. As the layers of fantasy world are peeled back, you can see that not only the world, but Quico himself transforms into something much darker. In hopes to free Monster of his addiction, Quico must utilize various fruits to both guide and get Monster to spit up his toxin. If Monster is not stopped or does not spit out the frog, he becomes an engulfed behemoth that hunting down Quico. While Quico cannot die, he must get around by positioning Monster, and he cannot do this while Monster is intoxicated.

Papo & Yo is a title that not only shows the results a creative mind can cook up, but the powerful effects that our experiences have on who we are.  If this build is anything like the final result, I will be picking up Papo & Yo late this summer when it releases on PSN.