Paper Beast has been available for PSVR for a while now, but has now also been released for PC headsets with a new update. An ideal opportunity for us to experience the surreal experience of Eric Chahi, known for Another World in From Dust, to experience the life of paper creatures. Read here how we experienced this interactive story.
Paper Beast So it’s all about the paper creature to follow in the adventure as you discover all kinds of other paper creatures. In a world where all living things are made of paper, you can experience part of it. This experience is divided into levels, each with separate scenes. In each level you discover a different part of the strange world you are in and each scene offers you an event at this location. Each level has its own theme, such as darkness, sand or water. During your adventure you will meet all kinds of strange figures who, without communicating, make it clear to you what the intention is.
The environments you visit are beautiful and surreal. The strange world you have landed in breathes nature and the moving paper parts impress. Because all organic parts are made of paper, it looks like living origami moving in unknown areas. It feels like you have landed on a strange planet, where you have not yet determined whether it is evil or benign. Strange things do happen to the world, where data seems to leak and the creature you mainly follow tries to survive. You could interpret it as the paper world that is being taken over by the digital revolution, but it could also just as well be criticism of humanity compared to the animal world. All in all it all feels recognizable, yet very strange and bizarre.
Your job is to help the creatures from time to time to help you move forward in the world. Think of providing materials so that bugs build a lot so that you get higher or the supply of water, so that creatures come back to life. These are just small actions that you have to do, which are not always clear, but if you look around and try something, chances are you can go further. There are also real puzzles in certain parts where you have to take into account several parts. The goal is often slightly clearer, but the way you solve it is the most difficult.
In addition to the adventure you experience, you can also play the sandbox mode, in which you can organize a small area yourself with whatever you want. Everything you have encountered on your adventure can be adjusted, including creatures, flora and fauna, but also weather effects, landscape formation and other influences. This allows you to see how the creatures react to each other or to certain parts of the landscape. A nice addition, but one will not spend much time on this, as you can only build a small area.
Despite Paper Beast is a very special and beautiful experience, we must mention a major flaw that bothered us. For example, it was not always clear whether we were expected to intervene, or whether we should just watch. It sometimes happens that you are figuring out for minutes what you should do to continue if it turns out that you only had to wait and vice versa. Because in one scene people are asked to solve a puzzle and in others they don’t, this sometimes creates the necessary confusion, which hinders the experience. It is also an experience in which the degree of interaction varies greatly. In one level you only have to move a few seeds, move an animal or another simple action, while in another level you have to solve a complete complex puzzle with multiple elements. This ensures that you Paper Beast not completely relaxed and reclining, but also not as a challenging puzzle game to pick up, since you regularly watch or wait. For example, it falls between two stools in terms of game and it feels as if it has just not become what it should have been.
This ultimately ensures that Paper Beast is a strange duck. It tries to be a beautiful, soothing and impressive interactive experience, which is largely successful. Yet it is very unfortunate that at many moments there is confusion about your goal or your contribution in which you sometimes have to wait and the other time to solve a whole puzzle. This ensures that the flow that should have made this experience beautiful and compelling goes out regularly. This creates some frustration, since you look around what the hell you should be doing more often than it is intuitive. Thus, the game does not reach the level we would have liked to see. Also, it is definitely not for everyone, since you have to love these strange stories. All in all, this experience could have been a lot cooler if it were clearer in what it required of you. As an interactive experience, it would certainly receive four stars, but as a puzzle game only two and so we arrive at this average score.
Paper Beast was played with SteamVR for this review and is also available for PlayStation VR.