Developer: Mobot Studios, Inc.
Publisher: Mobot Studios, Inc.
Platforms: Wii U eShop
Steam (coming soon)
Release Date: October 16, 2014
ESRB: E for Everyone
Papercraft visuals are something I really hope start catching on with more video games nowadays. There's just something so darn charming and fantastic about it that I can't help but be won over by the look in a lot of cases. Paper Monsters Recut nails this visual style extremely well in most aspects, even if it's not quite as ambitious as what Different Tuna did with Derrick the Deathfin a few years ago, where they used real papercraft to model and film its characters. And being a 2D platformer, there are definite similarities to LittleBigPlanet with its aesthetic choice as well. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay doesn't quite match up with the ambition shown on the visual front.
At the outset of the game you're introduced to its paper world, fittingly called Paper Land, where a villain named Lord Papyrus has taken over with his minions of paper monsters. Of course, the only one capable of stopping him is you, a character made out of... cardboard. That's essentially as much of a story as you'll get since there isn't much more to it than that. You're given a quick tutorial level at the very beginning to understand the basics of what's what and off you go to rescue Paper Land.
An overworld side-scrolling hub connects each world and its levels, and you'll eventually work through them in a linear fashion, though there are some worlds that you can choose to go to before others. You'll also find some minigames and other hidden things if you explore around a little, but as a whole, there isn't a ton to see or uncover in the overworld area. Levels play through as a fundamental platformer—you'll run and double jump between platforms throughout each level, collecting buttons (essentially this game's version of coins) along the way as well as three golden paperclips that are generally hidden (or at least out of the way). I usually found that the latter weren't too hard to find in most levels, which was a little disappointing. Enemies also don't pose much of a threat as most are rather slow and can be defeated with a single bop on the head from a jump.
Worlds run the gamut of themes from your typical grassy and blue sky "first world" to space, western, ice world, and more. Some of them have unique aspects beyond their aesthetic, such as the space world giving the protagonist a space suit, laser gun, and a jetpack that you can use when it has sufficient fuel. There also some segments where you'll control a submarine, a sled, or in later levels, a helicopter. By and large, I found that most of these don't really change up the pace that much and aren't that well-executed (maybe except for the submarine); the sled, for example, is rather slow and lacks the thrill of speed (either downhill or horizontally) like you'd expect from the real experience.
Unfortunately, the biggest gripe I have with the game is that the different worlds never truly feel that much different from each other, other than their theme. Level design never really becomes that differentiated throughout and many areas feel entirely too similar, save for the Space levels and some at the very end. It's a shame too because I enjoyed the first world thoroughly, but many levels begin to feel the same after that, just with different backgrounds and such. There's also little to no creative use of the papercraft style to make inspired platforming puzzles or design choices, like LittleBigPlanet or Kirby's Epic Yarn have done in the past. The papercraft visuals are purely an aesthetic choice, and that's all there is to it. It may look like paper, but it doesn't entirely feel like it.
When it comes to the game's soundtrack, it's a bit hit-and-miss as well. There are a few tracks I really enjoyed, though much of the different tracks and themes are largely repetitive with the same beats and loops, not to mention short, making it a little bit hard to listen to over and over. They do tend to fit each world's theme well, though.
Overall, the very best things Paper Monsters Recut has going for it are its charming visuals and presentation. I hoped that the gameplay would measure up to such a unique theme, but in the end, much of it does feel a bit bland and uninspired when it comes to level design. Still, there are enjoyable moments to it and Mobot Studios does manage to pack in a good amount of content for only $8. It may be a bit easy for most hardcore platformer enthusiasts, making it ideal mostly for children and younger gamers in general, but if you're hungry for platform games and have nothing to play, it might be worth checking out.
+ Beautiful, charming papercraft visuals
+ Decent amount of content and levels, giving you 4-5 hours worth
- Much of the level design leaves a lot to be desired
- Virtually no creativity with the papercraft theme
Overall Score: 6 (out of 10)
Paper Monsters Recut has a charming papercraft look but falls somewhat flat with its level design. Still, it has its moments and may be worth looking into for platformer enthusiasts and younger gamers.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher.