Game Reviews Playstation Papo and Yo (PS3)
Papo and Yo (PS3)

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Accessibility At A Glance Papo and Yo (PS3)


Precision > Maybe Read the detailed review please
One-Handed > No Avoid this game
Deaf Gamers > Yes You should have no issues with this game
Subtitles > Yes Character text is present but not ambiant
Colorblind > Yes Colorblind gamers should be okay

About the Game

Release Date
August 14, 2012
Licence Category


Papo & Yo is the story of a young boy, Quico, and his best friend, Monster. 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.

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Papo and Yo (PS3)
Papo and Yo (PS3)
Papo and Yo (PS3)

Editor review

Papo and Yo (PS3) 2013-01-31 08:13:20 Elizabeth Martin
Overall rating 
Elizabeth Martin Reviewed by Elizabeth Martin    January 31, 2013
Last updated: January 31, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Papa & Yo

There's been a lot of talk about the video game industry growing up lately, but in reality few games have even attempted to tackle an issue of any real weight. Papo & Yo is one of the first to explore a specific issue and it not only handles it with an understated dignity, but makes for a delightful and enriching experience at the same time.

The game tells the semi-autobiographical story of its developer, Vander Caballero, and the game begins with his acknowledgement: “To my mother, brothers and sisters with whom I survived the monster in my father”. Exploring the relationship between a boy and his abusive father may seem like a big ask for a video game, but it manages to carry across its message with both subtlety and ease. Instead of being dark and depressing, the game has a fun-filled lightness and a child-like imagination. The game avoids being heavy-handed by saying everything through metaphor, all the way up until its heart-breaking conclusion.

At the beginning of the game a young boy is trapped in reality, cowering in fear in a cupboard whilst his father rages in the room outside. A mysterious symbol appears on the wall of the cupboard and, going through, the boy is launched into a strange new world. He emerges into what appears to be a typical favela, but as Quico explores his new surroundings he finds that not everything is as it seems. The town appears to have a population of just one, a young girl who can draw chalk outlines, similar to the one which appeared in his cupboard, to create new doors and switches. She uses her skills to help Quico reach home where he lives with the simultaneously adorable and terrifying creature known as Monster.

Quico and his new friend set off on a quest to take the beast to the local shaman, in the hope that he can quench Monster's rage. Along the way there are platforms to jump across and puzzles to solve that open up the route forwards. These puzzles often involve getting Monster to do something, so the first task is to understand what makes him tick. Most of the time Monster is harmless enough, spending his time sleeping or munching hungrily on any fruit he can lay his hands on. The problems start when a juicy frog happens to hop by as it will immediately take Monster's attention and its ingestion results in an enraged, flaming Monster who directs his wrath at the young boy. Much of the game revolves around managing Monster, attempting to get him to do what you want him to do and keeping him calm at any cost.

Unfortunately, despite having a number of very good ideas, the puzzles in the game rarely require much thought. Generally they boil down to pulling a switch to open a route to another switch, which lets Monster through so you can persuade him to stand on another switch, which opens another door etc. etc. It's often impossible to do anything in the wrong order and can feel like you're just going through the motions somewhat. Challenge more often comes from the platforming required to move around. The game is presented in third person and jumping between platforms can be pretty tricky. Also, Quico's toy robot Lula gives him the ability to double jump, which requires some careful timing to reach over the longer gaps. As you might have guessed, however, the crux of Papo & Yo is really its characters, story and setting, and neither its puzzling nor its platforming.

The setting of the game, in particular, is something pretty special. The environments are wonderful to explore and exude a unique vibrancy; its colourful streets punctuated with striking graffiti painted onto the walls of the town. The favela is made up of hundreds of cute little cubic houses which can magically come to life, sprouting little chalk legs and bouncing out of your way or forming themselves into neat lines for you to traverse across chasms. Pulling on strings dangling from the sides of buildings can pull them apart and reveal a staircase hidden within. There are all sorts of wonderful little touches and some spectacular set pieces towards the end where the whole town is manipulated to your will.

Papo & Yo may not be perfect, but it is engaging, charming and full of surprises. The game play may be relatively simple, but this is a game where the mechanics have been designed to fit the story and its characters, rather than the other way around. Its developer set out to tell his story and he does so in spectacular fashion, creating an unforgettable little video game in the process. At the end of the game Quico takes the first difficult step out of childhood and into adulthood, and as he does so he pulls the video game industry that bit further out of infancy along with him.

Accessibility Issues

1. Visibility

The game is presented with a good amount of contrast, the whole game taking place during daylight. There is also a brightness option in the menu. There are one or two very short sections in black and white with low visibility, but during these you simply need to follow a bright white line along the ground so these should not cause much issue. Throughout the game important items and routes are highlighted with bright white lines and these show up pretty clearly.

The main issue with visibility is when Monster is chasing you as he takes up most of the screen and it can be very difficult to tell what you're doing yourself. This is a problem for everybody, however, not just the visually impaired, so it's difficult to really count that against it.

The menus are written very clearly in white on black and there is no information given on screen during play.

The environments can use a number of shades of brown and Monster is pink so it is possible that the colour blind will struggle with making things out. It is never important to be able to tell the difference between particular colours, however, so I think the game would be perfectly playable overall.

2. Hearing

The deaf should have no trouble with this game whatsoever. There are audio cues, but everything has a clear visual cue as well. When Monster is angered, the whole screen turns red and whenever the game needs to let you know something's happened it shows you it visually. All of the help given by the game is also given in drawings or written in text.

3. Subtitles

The dialogue in the game is in a made up language and subtitles are presented automatically. They are written in white on a black speech bubble which indicates who is speaking. The subtitles are written in a serif font, but they are very large and clear to read.

4. Precision

Precision is the only aspect of the game where Papo & Yo really falls down in accessibility terms. There is a lot of platforming to do in a third person perspective which can be very awkward. There is a shadow to show you where Quico is in space, but this is often misleading and falls are common. To succeed it is necessary to aim your jumps very carefully with the analogue stick. Checkpoints are frequent so the replay length is short, but repeated deaths can be frustrating.

Timing is also an issue when placing jumps. Lula gives you the ability to double jump and it is important to time your second jump correctly to get across the bigger gaps. A few jumps also require timing because of moving platforms.

There is no button mashing and there are no QTEs.

5. Controls

Controls require both analogue sticks to move and look, but are otherwise very limited. X is used to jump, circle throw, square toggles grab on and off and triangle triggers Lula to perform an action.

None of the shoulder buttons or the directional keys are used at all.

The keys are not customisable and it would be very difficult to play one-handed with a standard controller.

6. Difficulty

There are no difficulty levels in Papo & Yo, but the game is not especially difficult. There are a few times when it is not clear what you need to do next, but generally the solution is found by wandering around and pulling whatever lever you find. There are only a few occasions where you really need to think about what you are doing and do things in the right order.

There is also plenty of help available. Quico can pick up adorable help boxes which contain crayon drawings that either explain what it is that you need to happen, or teach you about new items and their uses.

There is one puzzle which plays as a cup and ball test and requires a certain amount of memory. This happens three times in a row and gets faster each time. There are also times when fast reactions are required, especially when Monster is chasing you and you need to do something under pressure. Monster can make the game quite stressful and it can get frustrating if he keeps catching you and throwing you around.


Papo & Yo is a broadly accessible game, but there are a few niggling problems which can make it a frustrating experience. Platforming requires both timing and precision and Monster can make the whole thing quite stressful when you get bogged down with trying to escape from him. On the plus side, the subtitles are excellent and there are plenty of visual cues. Visibility-wise there are also few problems and the help boxes are a neat touch that save the player from wondering what to do next when at a loose end.

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About the Author
Elizabeth Martin
When I'm not busy at work (helping scientists do whatever it is they do), or at college studying sign language, I'm at home playing video games, reading about video games or writing about video games.

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