A nature-based puzzle game containing mystery, intrigue and some challenging puzzles to boot.
Developer: Pixel Reef
Publisher: Pixel Reef, Plug In Digital
Release date: 20 October, 2020
Paper Beast Folded Edition is an adventure, exploration and puzzle game about nature.
Born from the mind of Eric Chahi, creator of Another World, the folded edition is the non VR version of the game.
Somewhere in the abyssal depths of the internet, life has blossomed. You are the first human to set foot in this mysterious ecosystem. A strange force seems to weigh on its balance. Join forces with intriguing and endearing creatures to solve the puzzles of Paper Beast.
Paper Animals Never Looked So Good
What a refreshing experience. I love unusual and quirky games and this one is certainly that.
It is not quite clear who you are or what part you play in this enchanting story but you are an observer and a protector of nature. Following a pilgrimage of creatures destined for somewhere unknown you follow them and aid them on their journey. As you proceed, more and more weird and wonderful creatures get introduced each with their own habits and survival needs. Your job is to observe the scenes and provide the creatures with the necessary tools to continue their quest.
Armed with a grappling hook you can manipulate creatures, objects and plants by grabbing and throwing them or attaching objects to creatures.
Each creature you encounter has a certain need, some as basic as thirst or others to escape dangerous predators. You will have all the tools at your disposal littered around the environment. The puzzle is how to use the objects to accomplish your goal.
Puzzles Are Original and Imaginative
There are twelve diverse creatures to meet and a few others playing parts in the story. The creatures all have behaviors which can be manipulated to your advantage. For example, the Bridger drops sand where water flows, the Wormhole eats sand at one end and releases sand at the other and the Stacker creates sand balls. You need to study the environment, study the creatures and formulate a plan. There is never a quest guide or instruction on what to do. You need to observe, learn and adapt to solve the puzzle.
Some of the puzzles also require objects or plants to succeed. Heat blocks can evaporate water, freeze can freeze water, and linkers can link objects or animals for example. Some of these items are hidden in levels and need to be found. There are around ten different objects.
The levels are quite linear and puzzles are only solved by using the objects, creatures and plants in the vicinity. Occasionally, there are environmental hazards to overcome like strong bursts of wind, slippery surfaces or unreachable heights.
The puzzles were quite difficult, especially the wind sections, but they were so original and refreshing in their execution. Throughout the game you will quickly learn that this is a pilgrimage and the main goal is to get the Papyvorus to the tree. Apart from that you are blind and you will only know what to do by observing.
I really enjoyed this concept. The creatures were magnificently weird and drawn incredibly well. Their behavior actually changes with your input and this gives the creature a personality of its own. At one point I genuinely felt distressed and panicked at the thought of the Papyvorus being eaten by predators. This is testament to how well the game immerses you in its world. You genuinely feel responsible for their wellbeing.
A Weird and Wonderful Adventure
The story is massively open to interpretation. It is deeply rooted within nature and how things interact and are connected, but everyone will take something different away from this experience.
Although gameplay is linear, the events that unfold are so bizarre that you are going to need some imagination to interpret them.
It is never obvious why you are there, where you came from or what your purpose is in this story, but your goal is to help the creatures continue their exodus, revealing the destination at the end.
Behaviour Is the Mirror in Which We Can Display Our Image – Ghandi
There is a really interesting and original concept in Paper Beast where your actions as the observer can affect the behaviours of the creatures. Pick up a scrap of paper and the Papyvorus will follow you; Throw down some plants and the herbivores will be attracted; creatures care for their young and protect them and they all have basic needs to survive, like hunger and thirst.
This is not a survival game however. The creatures can die but they will be respawned at a checkpoint. Their main goal is to play a part in the puzzle at hand.
The creatures get frightened by predators and can be eaten. They herd in groups and run away from danger much like a real life creature. They can react to your presence and bow their heads to greet you. There are so many nice touches in the game that you are constantly surprised and amazed.
It is wonderfully interactive and immersive.
There are seven chapters and twenty-three stages to the game which should take around ten hours to complete.
There is also a sandbox mode where you can use the objects, creatures and plants to breed a living environment of your creation. The god mode lets you choose weather conditions, and lets you sculpt the landscape.
Items used in sandbox will only be available if you have encountered them in gameplay. I had a few missing creatures and plants so this could encourage a second playthrough.
After completing your quest, you will be able to revisit any chapter or scene through the main menu which makes it easier to pick up the missing creatures or achievements you missed.
Although the game is relatively linear there are enough different creatures, objects and environmental hazards to keep gameplay fresh and exciting. Each chapter brings about a new biome and new creatures and plants are introduced at regular intervals.
Controls are simple, although sometimes the grappling hook can be tricky to use, especially in high winds. This is more of a thinking game than a game where you need fast reflexes but there are scenes where this comes in useful, for example protecting the Papyvorus from predators.
The creatures look amazing and are very original in their look and design. They look like origami style folded pieces of paper that have come to life and are behaving like natural creatures. It really is a weird and wonderful place to visit.
Environments are a bit bland and the world feels a little barren but you soon forgive that and it becomes unnoticeable.
The game creates an odd and intriguing atmosphere with its colourful and number filled skies alluding to the fact that we are in some digital world. It all adds to the mysterious nature of the game.
Sound plays an important part in creating the curious atmosphere. There are some weird sound effects, interspersed with outbreaks of Japanese rock music. I told you it was weird!
Special effect noises are good and the creatures have their own voices to personalize them.
Paper Beast is easily the most original puzzle game I have played this year. If you love nature then it will be even more poignant but it is a decent puzzle game in its own right.
The story is as wild as its inhabitants and open to interpretation. It certainly makes you think afterwards and everyone will formulate their own ideas. This might deter some people from trying the game, but you’d be missing out.
It is a wonderfully weird and spiritual adventure with strange creatures and challenging puzzles and is incredibly immersive and atmospheric due to your interaction with the creatures.
If you are looking for something different in a puzzle game or just enjoy interacting with nature then I could easily recommend this.