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Harsh Surreality: Papo & Yo PC-Bound On April 18th

Unfortunately, this one flew right by us during all the GDC madness, but it’s still hugely worth noting. Papo & Yo, you see, is a tale of one man’s real-life childhood relationship with his abusive father, told by way of a giant pink rhino flesh wad creature. It’s exceedingly personal for a game of its scale (originally, Sony chipped in; thus an initial period of PS3 exclusivity), and that alone probably makes it worth a look. But it also functions as a window into a distinctly child-like state of mind – one where astounding feats of magical realism make the world go ’round, with dream-like puzzles to match. It’s coming to PC quite soon, too, so perhaps a trailer will be right up your dilapidated, graffiti-tattooed  South American favela alley.

Escape through imagination. A child’s most powerful refuge, but it’s impossible to keep all the monsters out. That, in essence, is what Papo & Yo’s about.

“Quico’s best friend, Monster, is a huge beast with razor-sharp teeth, but that doesn’t scare Quico away from playing with him. That said, Monster does have a very dangerous problem: an addiction to poisonous frogs. The minute he sees one hop by, he’ll scarf it down and fly into a violent, frog-induced rage where no one, including Quico, is safe. And yet, Quico loves his Monster and wants to save him. As Quico, players will build their friendship with Monster by solving puzzles together and adventuring through a magical, surrealist world. Players will need to learn to use Monster’s emotions, both good and bad, to their advantage if they want to complete their search for a cure and save their pal.”

Frogs, of course, equate to creator Vander Caballero’s father’s alcohol addiction, so it’s not hard to parse the rest of the allegory. It is, then, quite a premise, but the PS3 version was decently received overall. That said, Sony’s patented polish juice apparently got spilled all over another Killzone or something, so Papo clambered onto the playground rather rough around the edges. Hopefully, the PC version will be less overrun with bugs and glitches – graphical, show-stopping, or otherwise. Fortunately, Minority’s promising extensive fixes and improved controls, so it sounds like we’ll only be struggling against nightmarish hordes of inner demons. Thank goodness for that.

Papo & Yo’s coming to Steam, Amazon, Desura, GamersGate, and several trillion other places on April 18th. How are you feeling about it?

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Nathan Grayson

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