Papo & Yo is one of the results of Sony’s Pub Fund initiative where the publisher supports small game developers in exchange for a PSN exclusive (among other things.) Led by Creative Director Vander Caballero, Minority Studios’ Papo & Yo is a personal tale that was inspired by his childhood and what it was like dealing with an alcoholic father.
The E3 demo this year was midway through Act 2 (there are 5 total) where the focus was to find a path of some kind to get you to the next area. Objects that can be interacted with are drawn with white chalk, whether that be in the form of a key, gears, or a wind-up switch. You play as Quico, a young boy with a robotic friend on his back named Lula and Monster, a giant pink rhino. The goal is to get Monster to a shaman because he has a tendency to want to eat poisonous frogs, which transforms him into a raging beast.
After speaking to Vander, he acknowledged that it’s difficult to show what the game is truly about in a setting like E3. It’s an extremely emotional story that’s supposed to represent what it was like for him as a child; to have a father that can be kind and comforting, but after a few drinks he becomes an entirely different person.
But even though the slice of the game that we played through wasn’t particularly eventful in terms of story, we see a warm connection between the boy and Monster, whether it’s playing soccer with him or luring him to a switch with a golden piece of fruit. The game’s rundown environments are also beautiful in a tragic way. Vander had been raised in a wealthy family in South America but the poor lived in shanty towns next door. As we walked through the grimy streets and climbed onto the dilapidated rooftops, we’d see a rainbow in the distance and felt strangely at home. Part of the reason the story is set in this location is also because Vander was tired of having South America featured in video games as a country where minorities are constantly being slaughtered.
Most of the puzzles that we encountered required some exploration and careful observation of the environment. Platforming is a large part of the game, and you’ll use Monster to help you get to where you both need to go. We look forward to playing the game once it releases, and we hear that it’s going to be soon – sometime this summer.