Papo & Yo
Sony revealed Papo & Yo a week before E3, and we were instantly intrigued by the creativity on display. This week we got a chance to play a demo for the creative puzzle/platformer, and our time with the game didn't disappoint.
If you didn't read our announcement preview, Papo & Yo tells the tale of a boy named Quico, who lives in a South American favela with his friend, Monster. Quico and his gigantic pal normally get along, but whenever Monster eats a poisonous frog, he loses control and becomes a danger to the small boy. The story is an allegory for Creative Director Vander Caballero's childhood experience of growing up with an alcoholic father, and is beautifully conveyed without resorting to any heavy-handed narration.
The E3 demo takes place inside the favela, where Quico must turn a series of magical gears in order to stack the floors of a tower. The tower can then be bent around the environment like a giant snake, allowing Quico to run up the side of it to access new areas of the level. The player must also periodically guide Monster, who towers over Quico. Luckily, Monster has a sweet tooth, and will follow Quico around whenever he picks up a piece of fruit from the environment.
I was impressed by the sense of awe created by both guiding Monster and the shifting tower in the level. Not surprisingly, Vander cited Ico and Shadow of the Colossus as inspirations. He says he wants to create a triple-A gaming experience as a downloadable title, with five percent of the budget of a retail game. To accomplish this means capturing those larger than life moments that only video games are capable of, and the demo succeeded nicely.
Vander is no stranger to game making, having worked on series like Army of Two, FIFA, and Need for Speed. But growing older has motivated him to create new experiences. He told me that he can't bring himself to just make another shooter, and that he's disappointed video game haven't aged as he has; He feels like we're still playing the same games we were ten years ago.
If I learned anything from my 30-minute demo of the game, it's that Papo & Yo is far from the same old game experience players are accustomed to. We'll bring you more on Papo & Yo as we approach is currently undisclosed release date. In the meantime, you can see a bit of the game in action in the E3 trailer.