Developer & Publisher: Papetura/Petums
Released: May 7, 2021
Requirements: Windows 7, 8, 10
Processor: 2 GHtz dual core
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce 610 1 GHtz or equivalent
DirectX: Version 9.0
Storage: 2 GB available space
This is a delightful painstaking whimsy, not at all perfect but a charming place to spend 2 to 3 hours.
Six years of cutting and gluing and who knows how much paper was poured into it. Everything is constructed from paper, by hand, by the creator. Inspired by architecture and handcrafted games such as The Neverhood, he wanted to “make something unique, solely out of animated paper surrounded by light”, hoping you will enjoy his small paper world.
I certainly did.
I am drawn towards the effort that goes into creating things like this. As well as The Neverhood, games like Dream Machine and Lumino City come to mind (and of course Armikrog), and in the film world Wallace and Grommit, Boxtrolls and Isle of Dogs are favourites. I don’t make films or games, but if I could I would want to make something out of stop motion plasticine. I blame it on Gumby.
I mention all that so you can factor it into my impressions. Confess and avoid a pre-existing bias.
You play as Pape, an un-scrunched roll of brown paper sort of chap, minding his own business in his papery world until he is locked in his room by an entity that wants to set that world on fire. Finding a way out, and then finding Tura, a need to be cared for being of some sort, Pape scoops him/her/it up and sets off to prevent disaster.
Pape’s world is a delight, all the more so because you are aware that the intricate detail is (did I tell you this already?) crafted from paper. From the littlest insect to the creature that might consume one or other of you to the vast caverns that Pape traverses, the paperiness is apparent and utilised to its best effect. Scrumpled and folded paper imbues the world with an organic ‘realism’, enhanced and accentuated by the ambient sound and the very excellent score (courtesy of Floex, who did a number of Amanita games – Samarost etc). Plus the lighting, leaking through the paper from behind or illuminating out front, and the colour, generally soft and dusky except when it needs to be something else
Characters communicate with each other through pictographic ‘speech bubbles’, but chitter and gurgle and belch and all sorts of other things. Tell me you don’t like the little wheezy noise Pape makes when he paddles. All the bits and pieces comes together to produce a captivating living whole.
But what of the gameplay?
Papetura is entirely point and click, active icons indicating where you might do something. Save at will and start where you left off. You find and collect items but you don’t have to decide where to use them. Having them is enough, and Tura will regurgitate them as required (yes, seriously). There is a bit of backtracking and then a bit more, as you talk to others to work out what it is you need to find in order for them to give you what you need to progress. Pape isn’t a hasty piece of paper so the backtracking can take some time..
There is some trial and error, some “why am I doing this” randomness, and a touch of aimlessness, but it’s a gentle game so nothing should hold you up for too long. Manipulate the environment, interpret some visual cues, gather the items. There is also a rather nifty thought bubble hint system, that is way more fun than some similar approaches.
You do need to use Tura to launch little round baubles at various things as part of the puzzling, again not difficult but several sequence require that you complete it within a certain amount of time. Failing just means trying again, including eg. if you get swept up by the sticky tendril hanging from the roof if you don’t make it through the passage in time.
Tura does other things too. A lot of them. The perfect Swiss army knife companion if you will.
There are two puzzles I would describe as mini-games (for want of a better description, and you might feel that there are a couple more), and these were the least good puzzles. One involves fishing, the other manipulating Tura within the belly of a beast to retrieve a key. Whatever their level of difficulty, I might would have left them out.
But it's not my game, and you might feel differently anyway, and they didn’t in any significant way detract from my overall enjoyment. Which was considerable.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB