Papo & Yo is free this month for Playstation 3 gamers who susbscribe to Playstation Plus. If you have Plus, you should really download this beautiful game that deals with the tough topic of alcoholism and co-dependency in a gentle and non-judgemental way.
The modern gamer has many independent puzzle platformers to choose from, and an unending amount of digital boxes to push and virtual switches to pull . While Papo and Yo has these boxes and switches, it sets itself apart by jumping past the obstacle of the TV screen, and tugging switches in the player’s heart.
As Quico, you explore a colorful version of Brazilian slums aided by his toy robot, Lula. This unlikely setting for a game under Minority Media‘s art direction becomes a wonderful place to explore as seen through a child’s eyes.
Quico explores this landscape finding switches, doors, and gears drawn in chalk by a mysterious stranger. Interacting with these chalk symbols allows fantastically dramatic changes to the environment. One room shanties fly through the air, stacking to form a bridge, or crawl like spiders to bridge a gap. The puzzles have a dreamlike logic, and stacking boxes changes from the mundane to a child’s daydream.
Early in the game, we are introduced to the giant pink Monster. He seems mostly indifferent to Quico, occasionally tossing back a kicked soccer ball, or in sleep, allowing Quico to bounce on his tummy to reach a high spot. Monster’s indifference changes terrifyingly after he spots poisonous frogs. Monster devours the frogs, and instantly becomes a flaming, rage-filled version of himself, attacking Quico ruthlessly, throwing him around like a ragdoll.
The end of the game leaves no doubt as to who Monster represents. Hopefully many of you reading this will play the game, so I will not fully discuss the ending. As I watched the credits roll, I pondered with sadness my relationship with my estranged father, and I think my young daughter summed up my feelings succinctly. “Sometimes you have to let the people you love go.”