Papo & Yo is a story-driven puzzle game about a boy named Quico who lives in a Brazilian favela, and his two best friends: a quirky robot named Lula and a rhino-like creature named Monster. Lula, unfortunately, scares the hell out of Monster, rendering him too petrified to move when she's nearby.
Monster, on the other hand, is an adorable, friendly giant. That is, until he eats a frog (he's addicted to 'em!), totally flips out and tries to kill everything. I didn't see that part, though -- the demo actually ended with Monster gobbling a frog and a fade to black. What I played, rather, was all about puzzle solving. The hands-on demo opened with Quico running around his favela, Lula in-hand, solving a handful of basic mysteries. The favela Quico lives in, however, is a bit off. Where are the other people? The environment Quico resides in seemed starkly empty for a child's play place. I note as much because the stacked houses -- and the rest of the environment, for that matter -- play a critical role in the game's many puzzles.
Lula's got jet blasters in her feet, so she didn't have any issues with the lack of a staircase after I climbed up, quickly joining me for the next puzzle, which was one of the best gameplay experiences I had at E3. A fenced-in area with a child's drawing on the ground hinted at the objective: place a handful of boxes in a row in order to hop over a fence and get across a water-filled chasm. But how to cross the chasm?
My experience with Papo & Yo wasn't perfect -- it's got some rough edges, such as the physics engine and some awkward collision detection with the game world (such as the aforementioned stairs) -- but between the charm of the characters, the unique world of Quico, and the visually imaginative puzzle design, I'm more than a little excited for the game's 2012 launch.