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.
First I had to ascend a hill, though the path of rocks leading up to the top was depressed firmly in the ground. A glowing rope laid against the hillside, which I could pull to raise the rock staircase. I was unable to hold the rope and ascend the temporarily raised walkway at the same time, so I tasked Lula with the job. By walking her to the rope and then calling her from a distance -- one of the small handful of mechanics available to Quico, outside of running and jumping -- I was able to have Lulu raise the staircase while I ascended it.
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?
As I moved boxes in the fenced-in area, entire houses from the adjacent favela lifted and swung with Quico's actions. The favela houses creaked and shuddered as I unnaturally moved them from their original resting places and made them into a bridge across the chasm. Puzzle solved!
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.