Papetura by Petums
“Handcrafted” is a buzzword that gets passed around the indie scene a lot these days. Numerous Steam pages proudly announce their “handcrafted levels” to distinguish them from the abundance of procedurally-generated fare. Maybe not the most elegant term in this case, but understandable enough.
Papetura by Polish developer Petums is another story entirely. Everything in the game is literally handcrafted from paper and animated digitally to create a world that, frankly, needs to be seen to be believed. It’s a massive undertaking that apparently took the developer years to accomplish. But can the game stand up alongside its peers like Machinarium?
Paper and Strife
A little paper creature awakens in a dark prison. In order to escape and save the world, they will have to harness the power of light and learn how to navigate the treacherous world ahead of them.
While Papetura’s story is simple, the way it’s told is done artfully thanks to a complete lack of dialogue. Every denizen of the papercraft world is expressive and understandable, lending the game a fairy tale quality that adds to its charm. This is accompanied by a suitably emotional score from composer Floex that’s tailor-made to pluck at your heartstrings.
In terms of gameplay, Papetura plays much like many of the puzzle platformers to be released over the previous decade. Navigating the world involves a combination of running, jumping, throwing objects, pushing blocks, and making sure to stay out of harm’s way.
It’s not going to win any originality awards, but the gameplay remains solid. There’s also a great hint system that allows you to play a little mini-game for guidance. More adventure games should have this system.
If there’s a complaint to be leveled at Papetura’s gameplay, it’s that it can be fiddly. While this rarely causes any major problems, a few of the game’s puzzles end up being exercises in frustration thanks to unreliable projectile physics. One puzzle that involved a Pachinko-style assortment of lights especially drove me nuts.
It’s also not a particularly long game, clocking in at one or two hours if you don’t try to get every achievement. This isn’t expressly an issue for me but something that buyers should be aware of.
However, many of these complaints become moot in the face of Papetura’s sheer style. The papercraft creations animated to create the game’s world are a genuine sight to behold, and I routinely found myself going “How long did this ONE SCREEN take to make?!”
Some might argue that this is style over substance. I, however, argue that Papetura is the perfect example of style AS substance, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget as a result.
For all its flaws, Papetura is a labor of love that deserves to be experienced. There may be better games, and there may be longer games, but I guarantee there are few games this spectacularly crafted.
Papetura is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and Steam.
Watch the trailer for Papetura below: