E3 2011: Papo & Yo

QUICKTAKE: The indie scene is filled with deeply personal games that try something new and make you think "huh?" Papo & Yo is one of those games. Coming exclusively to the PlayStation Network, this quirky story of a boy and his monster friend is one of the most fascinating games at E3. Technical shortcomings hinder the experience, but it has the workings of becoming a potential indie darling.

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THE DEMO: The short demo introduced a young boy, Quico, participating in what appears to be a game of hide and seek. As he makes his way through a desolate village, he meets Lula, a flying robot that Quico can pick up and command. After picking him up, the dreamlike adventure continues. Quico chases a boy through a glowing door on the side of a building.

As Quico makes his way through a cave, he comes upon a rope that makes a floating staircase appear. Quico can command Lula to hold the rope to keep the staircase steady as he traverses upward. Eventually, Quico comes across a chasm that can only be crossed by moving cardboard boxes, magically connected to houses in the distance, and arrange them to create a path across. Running across the newly-formed bridge of roofs, the demo ends.

DETAILS: What makes Papo & Yo feel so unique is its ability to remind you of the magic of childhood. Seeing Papo carry a cardboard box and seeing a house in the distance move in exactly the same way is a reminder of how imaginative children can feel. This is a beautiful dream-like world, and I can only hope that more moments like this pepper the entire experience.

While the art and premise have me sold, I am concerned about the technical shortcomings in the demo. Quico is a difficult boy to control, and traversing a winding path is rather difficult to do. While I don't expect the game to have the same responsiveness as a Mario game, simply moving around the environment shouldn't be so difficult. Given Papo's expected 2012 release, there's still a lot of time to polish the game and work on glitches, like clipping. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing much more of the game in the future.

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