E3 2011: Papo & Yo Preview Hands-On

We travel to South America to get first impressions of this imaginative puzzle game.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is where flashy graphics and highly anticipated sequels take the spotlight. But amid all the glamour and hype bubbling through the show floor lies a modest downloadable game that somehow stood out from the crowd. Papo & Yo is a game that chronicles the horror of growing up with an alcoholic father. Its deeply personal subject matter, clever implantation of puzzles, and surreal art design combined to make something unique and engaging. This PlayStation Network game is due for release sometime next year, but it has certainly caught our attention in the early stages.

Papo & Yo takes place in a small village in South America. You play as a small child named Quico, who's joined by a tiny robot pal. There is only a modest structure at this point, so it takes a bit of experimentation to figure out what you're supposed to do. Each section of the city contains a puzzle or two that is blocking your path, and you need to recognize where the barrier lies and figure out how to continue moving. The city is realistic looking, but dreamlike touches make it clear that this does not take place in reality. Platforms and boxes erupt out of the ground, trapping certain characters while allowing others to reach new heights, which makes it feel as if anything could potentially happen.

We only had a chance to see a few puzzles in the brief demo, but they provided a decent challenge without too much punishment. For instance, in one puzzle, you have to coax your robot pal to grab onto a length of rope. Once he has a secure grip, you call him over toward you, causing the rope to grow taut and platforms to rise from the ground. If you get stumped, a nearby hint box pushes you in the right direction. These hints look like a cardboard box, and Quico places it on his head. The view then switches to first person, and you can read the tips written on the inside, rotating the box to see more detailed explanations. It's a nice system that urges you along when you're stuck without clashing with the aesthetic.

Of course, Papo & Yo contains more than a collection of puzzles. You have a rhinoceros friend called Monster who tags along with you. He's nice enough most of the time, chasing after coconuts to help you solve puzzles, but he has a darker side. He's addicted to eating frogs, and when he chows down on his amphibian tormenter, he changes into a rampaging beast. In one puzzle, Monster was separated from Quico by a wall of buildings. To open a path, we needed to toss a few frogs into a wall. But when an opening appeared, Monster charged onto the screen, rushing right toward the nearby pond. He quickly gulped down a frog and turned into an angry, flaming version of his former self.

And that's where the demo ended. It was certainly cruel to end our play time right before the real action began, but it did leave us hungry for more. Check back on GameSpot for more information on Papo & Yo in the months ahead.

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Discussion

19 comments
gorezombiez
gorezombiez

Wow, this game looks awesome. Realistic, and that beast looks bad@$$.

SplahhMonkey
SplahhMonkey

Haha I think that hint system would seem fun :P

macca366
macca366

@imthelumberjack The boy has a big imposing figure (Father) that tags along with him, but when the monster eats a frog (alcohol) which he likes to do, he turns on the boy and becomes his enemy.

slainta
slainta

It looks interesting and I usually support new ideas from young developers, so unless the price is a rip off I'll buy this one as well no matter what.

usermikey
usermikey

That beast looks hella cool, I like the texture, and colors of it! Interesting new puzzle game with a story :D

Dragonballz290
Dragonballz290

@imthelumberjack This kid's life sucks so he escapes by daydreaming. At least I think that's it. The boxes did look like they were drawn by a child.

Burdonkadonka
Burdonkadonka

Sounds pretty sweet, and i'm digging the title of it.

imthelumberjack
imthelumberjack

Gameplay sounds intriguing and the art style is nice. I am a bit confused how this relates to growing up with an alcoholic father however.

final_fantasies
final_fantasies

"Papo & Yo takes place in a small village in South America" What about a map? South america is big... the game takes place in Brazil...

129achal
129achal

look's interesting game and the sound is great !!!!

WiiMan21
WiiMan21

Very very interesting, it's great to see a game that's not constantly having you aim down your sights.

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

Looks interesting, and since its a PSN game it will hopefuly have a fair price

Dragonballz290
Dragonballz290

This sounds really interesting and sad. It sort of reminds me of Paranoia Agent.

Feanor5503
Feanor5503

Is Nick Suttner involved with this game?

Yukeshime
Yukeshime

There was an interview of this game on the show floor during the live show but the stream got interrupted and i dont know if anyone was able to watch it. Is that going to be up any time soon?