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    dkirschner's Papo & Yo (PC)

    [January 21, 2014 12:16:39 PM]
    I'd read about this since before it was released. Story sounded impressive for game content matter and intrigued me. It's about a boy's relationship with his abusive alcoholic father (sort of an auto-biography of the designer/creator). He's in this dream-like slum with another female child, his toy robot Lula, and a creature called Monster. Monster represents his father, and Monster likes to eat toads, which represent alcohol. When Monster eats a toad he becomes enraged and attacks the boy.

    I picked the game up in the last Humble Bundle. I'd avoided purchasing it before because it got slammed by some of the press. But I'll pick up all kinds of things in Humble Bundles that I normally wouldn't pay for, and I'm REALLY glad I have this game now. I disagree completely with the negative reviews for the game and myself would rate it very highly. Maybe it was patched up or something since its release because I didn't encounter any bugs like a lot of people had said.

    So Papo & Yo is like an action adventure/puzzle game. I can't go much into the plot details for fear of ruining the emotional story, but you essentially follow this girl around, use your robot pal Lula to solve some puzzles, and lead Monster from place to place. The game is really imaginative. The dreamlike favela is more than just reimagined slums, but takes on the nuances as seen through a child's eyes. Instead of seeing poverty or dirtiness, you see lots of pretty blue sky and soccer fields. The art is this mixture of the realism of the favela and chalk lines of childrens' drawings. As you go through the game, the environments get more and more trippy, which represents, I don't know, the strain on the boy of dealing with Monster's rage and unpredictable nature.

    One of the more incredible things about the game is how much you identify with the boy. I didn't have abusive parents or anything, but I think the rage of Monster can stand for a lot of things anyone can relate to in life, the things you can't control, the things or people that you love even though they hurt you, maybe even some part of yourself that you are struggling with. But the boy has to deal with Monster, sometimes purposefully, sometimes accidentally feeding the Monster's rage. The boy also has to quell its rage. The whole time he is dealing with Monster, he is solving puzzles. Whatever Monster means to you, you can't just drop everything, forget everything and deal with Monster. You have to keep living, keep going to work, keep up appearances,'ve got to keep solving puzzles regardless of the rampaging Monster.

    Anyway, there is no English dialogue in the game, so all character development is achieved through character/environmental interactions aside from decipherable speech. It becomes pretty obvious what the boy and girl's relationship to Monster is. You immediately feel a certain dangerous curiosity toward Monster, and you alternatively like him (he's useful sometimes, sometimes he's calm and easy to guide around) and/or hate him. It becomes obvious the significance of Lula to the boy. He needs Lula (fantasy?) to help him solve puzzles and deal with Monster. Lula becomes a lovable character. Every time you use it, it says its name in a cute robot voice. You learn the relationship between the boy and the girl, and finally understand why she is always in war paint. The boy's attitude seems to change throughout the game too. He gets lets naive for sure. It's just a beautifully told story. The end is just My girlfriend (who does have a history of being abused) was watching me play, couldn't turn away from the game the whole time, and when it was over we just sat there for a while. I think she cried. It was emotional.

    One thing I haven't said much about are the puzzles. Since it is a puzzle game, you're going to be solving a lot. Don't worry. They aren't hard. They're on the easy side of the spectrum. Some people didn't like the puzzles. I liked them because every switch, every thing that happened, was neat to watch. Most (early) puzzles are solved just by finding a gear, pushing it, finding a bar, pulling it, finding a box, moving it...pretty simple stuff. But every time you do any of those things, the environment shifts in often unpredictable ways (at least the first time you see it) and I found it pretty exciting to watch what was going to happen when I pushed or pulled puzzle controls. The farther the game gets, the puzzles themselves become interesting. I like the ones where you have to stack houses or other objects, then manipulate the stack in this way you could only do in a dream universe to reach new places.

    So I highly recommend giving this a play through. It's not long (~3.5 - 4 hrs), and it's probably not expensive. I want more games with emotional stories like this. Want to talk about the medium maturing? Papo & Yo is an example.
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    dkirschner's Papo & Yo (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 20 January, 2014

    GameLog closed on: Monday 20 January, 2014

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Amazing story told through interactions between characters, environments. Very mature. Wonderful.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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