On the surface, A Tale of Paper by Spanish indie studio OpenHouseGames looks like a host of other games. With the main character looking like a paper mache version of a Heartless from Kingdom Hearts, and a general aesthetic comparable to Little Nightmares, it doesn’t appear wholly original. But once players dive into the game themselves, they will find a short and unique experience.
Without any spoken dialogue or written text, the story of A Tale of Paper is told via imagery and animated emotions. Whether it’s the terror of a massive spider bearing down on you or the wonderment of seeing an impressive planetarium display, the game does a good job of evoking these feelings.
In general, the environments are varied and occasionally wonderful. Taking form as Line (the Heartless-esque paper entity), the player will have to navigate their way through the game’s numerous puzzles and platforming sections. Players will also have to navigate dangers such as water, electricity, and falling from fatal distances. Along the way, shapeshifting abilities will unlock for the player, adding fun visual and gameplay variety. Ranging from a frog, to a ball, to a spaceship, these are also entertaining navigational components throughout the game.
With that in mind, do all of these pieces come together for a worthwhile experience?
In short, not really. The controls and camera are extremely stiff, which lead to numerous unnecessary deaths. On the subject of deaths, death by a Roomba is funny in theory, but it has an awkward execution. Watching the character die in real-time, followed by a black screen, then followed by a death cutscene is a disjointed experience. And the game doesn’t have the same charm as similar games like Limbo, Inside, Puppeteer, and Little Nightmares. Finally, the game is never really a lot of fun. Even though it’s only an hour or two long, it feels like a chore the majority of the time.
Ultimately, it’s a shame that A Tale of Paper doesn’t achieve greater heights. It has the components to be a great game, but the final product just isn’t. The well developed environments and catchy melodies don’t do enough to save the game from the rest of its downfalls.
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