When I approached Papetura, I had specific expectations. Both when it comes to me as a player, but also a reviewer. It’s the kind of game you see, read about it, and your head automatically creates your own image of what it will look like. I thought that I would get a simple, yet ambitious adventure game that would allow me to spend a few hours. Did i get it? Well, since I am starting this review this way and no other way, you can guess that not.
Papetura is a game by the Polish studio Petums, although Tomasz Ostafin is actually responsible for most of the work. A man who for the last seven years has been sitting and gluing paper models in order to transfer them to the virtual world. Yes, my dear. The idea of this title resembles the cult The Neverhood, except that instead of modeling clay and plasticine, we are dealing with paper models. It is really a breakneck job in this positive sense, and for this reason, if only for this reason, Papetura is worth getting to know and appreciate. You just feel the enormous amount of work put into creating mock-ups.
However, there is a drawback to this that some will not notice. The stationery is not only an interactive mockup. It’s still a game, and as a game it has been released, so aside from being beautiful, it’s worth it to bring something more with it. While playing, I had the impression that the author had a brilliant idea for paper plywood, but he didn’t quite know what he wanted to do with it next. Because for a game where such titanic work was put into the production of graphics, there is no depth in every other aspect.
Because what is Papetura? This is basically an uncomplicated adventure game that you can complete in an hour or two. Yes, it has a great production vibe from Amanita Design, but the design of the puzzles is not that interesting and good. The whole game is straightforward. Most of the time, we can only do one thing to move on. It is not that there is one solution to the puzzle, it is rather a standard. There is one puzzle! And it is often based on a similar theme of throwing objects.
It is also not better when it comes to the storyline. If it wasn’t for the Steam description, I wouldn’t know what the game is about. And this one is confusing, promising a story about the creature Pape and his companion Tura, who run away from fiery monsters. After the description, I expected something like an ICO in an adventure edition. While playing, I didn’t even know where Tura was, and only after the fact I realized that it was a cat that was deprived of personality and carried under the arm.
And the flames? You can only see them in the frame. The climate is amazing. The play of lights and breaking them through the paper makes the atmosphere of the fire feel so warm. You know the flame is dangerous, but being around it keeps you safe.You can get the impression that the game is such a pretext to show your own artistic vision. And I will repeat it again: I terribly admire the author for the idea, execution and effort, but the game itself could use a separate game designer or narrative designer to get the full potential that is hidden in it. How much I will be delighted with the setting and atmosphere, the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. And I’m not going to be a bit snobbish and say that it was supposed to be like that, because it’s an art and a visual masterpiece, because it’s still a game and I judge it as a game.
Stationery is a title that you literally play for the artwork. I didn’t think I’d ever prioritize this particular element of the game, because I’m the type of player that misses it sometimes. Of course, I appreciate the setting, but I might as well enjoy the nasty early 3D straight out of Final Fantasy VII. Here it is the other way around. You will find hundreds of better, although less pretty, not to say uglier, adventure games. You have to answer for yourself whether it suits you; whether you prefer interesting gameplay or a visual feast. Because Papetura is such a visual feast.
PS. I think that the author could put this model in some museum or art gallery, as long as he is still at home somewhere ..