Papo & Yo
Papo & Yo is a puzzle-solving action-adventure game set in Brazil.
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Story & Themes
Papo & Yo roughly translates to “the monster in my father.” The game starts out with a young boy, Qico, hiding from something in a closet. He then enters a fantasy world through a symbol on the wall. This world strongly resembles a Brazilian favela, or shanty town. Qico sees a young girl and follows her through the favela, finding that he can manipulate the architecture around him somewhat. Symbols and graffiti on walls and buildings designate places he can interact with to manipulate his surroundings. He is helped along by Lula, a friendly robot toy that can transform into a jet pack.
Qico comes across a big monster who at first is friendly and helpful, if a little sleepy. Qico feeds Monster fruits in return for its help as he and the girl try to lead it through the slums. However, if Monster eats frogs, it becomes rageful. Qico tries his best to keep monster away from the frogs, but he can only do so much. Only when Monster eats fruits will it return back to its normal sleepy self.
Ocassionally Qico finds himself reliving his memories of the real world, and as the game progresses we find that his father once hit and killed a person while driving on a rainy night, and he has spiraled further into alcoholism and abuse ever since. His father’s shadow in these visions is that of Monster. br>
Lula and the girl try to tell Qico that what happened was not his fault, that the man’s death is Monster’s burden to bear—but! There is a cure. Qico must find the mysterious shaman in order to help Monster.
Unfortunately, both Lula and the girl are hurt by Monster while trying to bring it to the shaman. Lula is able to be rejuvenated, but must stay behind in order to keep a puzzle activated so Qico can proceed. The two best friends say their goodbyes, and Qico finds himself facing his memories alone at the top of a mountain. A strange voice tells him that there is no shaman; there is only Qico and his past. Visions of Qico and Lula playing together, Qico cowering from his father wielding a stick, his father drinking, and Qico and his father fighting replace events from earlier in the game.
Qico tries his best to rescue the rage-filled Monster by giving him various things, but nothing helps. The only way for Qico to save Monster is by pushing its sleeping form off the platform and letting it float into a cloudy abyss. He must let Monster—and his father—go; there is no cure.
Papo & Yo’s themes include alcoholism, abuse, growing up, guilt, and letting go. The story is based on the creator’s own childhood.
- Papo & Yo obviously deals with some dark themes, but it does so in a way that children can relate to. This game might be a good opportunity to explore issues of alcoholism or other substance use, as well as child abuse, with kids.
- Did you feel sorry for Monster? Why didn’t it simply stop eating the frogs?
- Was it hard to see Monster doing such horrible things when moments before it had been a friend?
- Why do you think Qico felt guilty about something he couldn’t do anything about?
- Do you think Qico was right to let Monster go? What might have happened if he didn’t let it go?
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Cannot be played online