By Joshua OstroffChild abuse and alcoholism aren't the usual inspirations for a videogame, but Papo & Yo (Portuguese for Father and I) isn't the usual videogame. Montreal-based, Brazilian-born game designer Vander Caballero has tried to translate his experience growing up under the yoke of an abusive, alcoholic father into an indie puzzle-platformer about a young boy navigating the favelas alongside a monster who could lose control at any moment.
The subtext is barely sub ― though the monster is often a loving companion, its taste for poisonous frogs can set off a berserker rage that destroys everything in it wake. The boy, Quico, is trying to cure the monster of its addiction while avoiding getting walloped along the way.
Though it does right by its tragic, real-world inspirations, it can't help but pale next to its other inspiration, Fumito Ueda's similarly structured Ico, one of the greatest and most moving games ever made.
Papo & Yo's lack of subtlety shouldn't be surprising, coming as it does, from a creative director previously best known of the military porn of EA's Army of Two, but it deserves a lot of leeway for coming from such an unprecedentedly personal place. (Minority Games)