Papo & Yo is a game developed and published by Minority on August, 2012. The game was based on the story by Vander Caballero and his relationship with his father.
The game is set in Favela (portuguese for slum) somewhere in Brazil. I think this is the first game I ever played (and owned) that felt uniquely Latin-American. I could be wrong but it just seems that way. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete this game. I might get back to the game and finish it but for now that seems uncertain.
If anyone is wondering, why I was unable to complete this game was mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I got too frustrated when I got stuck and after several attempts at figuring it out, I simply gave up. As I said, I might get back to it and give it another shot but not in the near future.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, it is based on Vander’s relationship with his father. In the game, you will see it manifest in a metaphorical way. It is like a metaphorical autobiography in a sense.
You play as a boy named Quico. In the beginning, Quico is seen cowering inside a closet, holding his beloved robot toy called Lula. It is implied that Quico is hiding from his abusive father who’s in a drunken rage. While hiding in the closet, Quico sees some strange markings on the wall, it suddenly lights up and opens into a portal which Quico enters. When he recovers, he finds himself in the before-mentioned Favela with a mysterious girl who runs away from him when he approaches her.
While journeying further into this fantastical dream-like world, you meet a monster that is well….named monster. Monster is docile and even playful, occasionally playing a game of ball by throwing a football at Quico. Monster can be lured around to certain areas with its favorite fruit, lemons or you can jump off his belly (while he is having a nap) to reach a place inaccessible to Quico. Sadly, Monster does have a dark side. If he sees a frog, he will attempt to catch one and eat it. If he is successful in this, he suddenly becomes an enraged creature that turns red and has flames covering his body. He will actively search and attack Quico during this state. The only way to calm Monster is to find a rotten fruit and get him to eat it (which he becomes sick and throw up the frog). After this, the mysterious girl (who is openly hostile towards you) tells you that the only way to help Monster is to find the shaman. Thus, your quest begins to find the hidden shaman.
Speaking about the girl, who is she anyway? The game has not explained who she is (so far in my play through) and she is openly hostile towards the player for an unexplained reason. Well, she does give a reason stating that you ‘are cursed’ but does not elaborate any further. I actually really want to know what she means by Quico being cursed. I find her role in the game changes too awkwardly….and abruptly as she is hostile then suddenly guides you.
Based on this, I reached the conclusion that Monster is a representation of Quico’s father. While the frogs are representing the alcohol, explaining why Monster would suddenly turn on Quico and harm him during that state.
Papo & Yo has a lot of puzzles for you to solve to progress further. However, for me it felt repetitive. You are always looking for a gear to push, lure monster to a drawn square (acting like a pressure plate) and so forth. It is also to mess up some puzzles, I often had to restart the level cause I fell off the roof of a house and was unable to reach it again to do the necessary action. There are ‘hint boxes’ which gives you hints in how to solve the puzzle. Sadly, they are often so vague that they felt useless to me and often times, the puzzles were straight-forward to solve.
It is by no means a terrible game. It took a serious topic involving children and turned it into something meaningful. The metaphors used in the game was beautiful, especially how the father was portrayed as the Monster, who could be docile one minute then the next become an enraged creature that Quico is forced to run from.
It is quite clear that Quico uses his imagination as both a defense mechanism and to escape the harsh reality of his reality. He defends his innocence by going deep into his imagination where he embarks on a noble quest, forgetting that he is hiding from his father who is an alcoholic. On that note, it does remind me of something that I failed to mention earlier. In certain points of the game, you enter what appears to be a flashback. I am assuming the flashbacks are memories of Quico that reveals the reason his father has become alcoholic and abusive towards him.
The game does have some flaws but it is still a beautiful and meaningful game. I do enjoy the story of the game, I enjoyed the visual aspect of the game, the soundtrack of the game was amazing to listen too but there is only so much frustration a person can handle before they give up. I am notoriously impatient and do have a bad habit of giving up on things when I get frustrated. It is something I am working on and it is getting better. I do truly think that people will feel a connection with the story, especially since it is from a child’s perspective. The story is something that I really would like to see to the conclusion.