As a reviewer it is usually fairly easy to describe a game, working through the plot of the story. An action-adventure, when a husband seeks revenge for the death of his family is one that I must have played a dozen times over. But there are other games where the plot, subject matter, or even what you have to do, all come across as very abstract, strange, and surreal.
There have been quite a few games like this recently, what with the experimentation of developers being rewarded with a new life on the Xbox console. Papetura is one of those games; an experience that not only experiments with its world and narrative, but also with the way the game was made.
Papetura comes with an unusual and fascinating story at its fore, one that focuses on a little paper creature – Pape. At the start of the game, he finds himself in a flowery prison, guarded by a strange shadowy creature. As you escape you find yourself taking in a journey through this strange and wonderful world. Soon he meets another creature – Tura – who becomes his friend, his ally and his weapon. They explore the world, trying to stop the place from being destroyed by fire from the shadow creatures.
At least, that’s how I’ve read it, but Papetura is very much open to your interpretation. Whatever you make of it though, the world is an amazing one to explore and I loved the characters that I found and interacted with. However, it might be too abstract for some, but even then it’ll be hard to fault the work that’s been put into creating this artistic vision.
In terms of gameplay and the closest thing I can compare Papetura to is a point-and-click adventure. You move little Pape around and can interact with items, climbing up and down, utilising objects. You can jump a little and interact with items as well as Tura who transforms into a little directional weapon. You will find yourself faced with abstract puzzles to find and complete all as you hope to get through certain areas. For example, at the start of the game you find yourself in a prison, left to interact with flowers, lighting them up. Do so and the prison door might open up.
As you go further into the game, different mechanics are introduced: some shooting, some jumping, and the need to go avoiding big fireballs falling from the sky. There are other moments that standout too, like when you find yourself inside a whale, talking to characters in hope of finding out what they need before going on an old-fashioned fetch quest… in the stomach of a whale.
If I was highly critical I would say that Papetura sometimes struggles with a lack of direction and purpose, and that can be quite frustrating at times, but thankfully there are many visual clues that help you figure out what you need to do. Further, there are times the controls can feel a bit awkward and movement feels a bit too slow; you’ll need to start to feel the pace. But overall the gameplay is original, unique and very enjoyable.
Visually the developers have really excelled in the making of Papetura. The whole art style has been lovingly handcrafted through paper models, before being digitalised and animated. It is beautifully lit and runs with an old school stop-motion feel which is the highlight of the whole game. It creates a wonderful, strange, and surreal atmosphere that takes you on a journey into someone’s brilliant imagination.
The soundscore is also excellent too, capable of adding to the strangeness. With added audio effects, Papetura is a truly amazing artistic achievement.
You’ll probably be able to complete Papetura in less than two hours, but I like a short experience that is full of quality, rather than something stretched out with fluff. Papetura delivers on this. Papetura is superb in terms of the handcrafted visuals, but also in its strange world-building. But it will probably be that which might put some off; that and the lack of direction in the gameplay.
For me, Papetura is worth trying out; a game that should be cherished on console.
Papetura is on the Xbox Store