by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
A Solid Foundation
Platformers are the bread and butter of video games. Yet so many do it poorly. How refreshing it is for a new indie platformer to come along, where the actual act of jumping from platform to platform isn’t either straight up poor, or aggressively mediocre. Paper Monsters Recut gets the basics right, which is good, but it hasn’t built upon that proverbial platform to become a great game.
A single frustration arises early on; The resolution options on offer are bizarre to say the least, so I ended up playing in windowed mode. Other than that, there’s nothing really wrong with the game. The visuals have a cartoony papercraft style which is fairly easy on the eye. Your main character is a little cardboard fellow with a paper face stuck onto his box head and his expression changes in a way that reminded me of the robots from Fallout 3. He looks slightly worried when making a jump, and when he finishes a level he gives you a cheeky wink and spins around in happiness.
It’s cute and quirky, and this continues through to the levels themselves. The backgrounds interact as you run past them. Leaves in the trees rustle, mushrooms sprout from the ground, pinwheels start spinning round. Even what you’re collecting is charming - instead of the usual coins, you’re collecting paper clips and buttons. Collect 100 buttons and you gain an extra life. Each level has three golden paper clips and one golden button hidden somewhere. Finding these are how you unlock new levels.
Levels are accessed through a playable overworld, and even outside the main levels you can explore and find these hidden secrets. It’s a nice touch, but it is possible to be unsure of where you’re going. A few extra signposts would be helpful, or a way to choose levels directly. As it is, you can only warp between the various worlds and be placed right at the start. Which is annoying if you want to play a level that’s closer to the end than the beginning.
As for the gameplay, it’s very simple, almost boringly so. You jump from platform to platform, jump on enemies’ heads to kill them, and search for the hidden items. There’s a double jump, and in the space section you have access to a jetpack with a limited fuel supply. You’re also sometimes able to use a laser pistol to shoot enemies from afar. There’s an underwater level where you enter a submarine, and can fire torpedoes at enemies and to break down destructible walls. It all works well, but it’s just very safe, there’s not a great deal of innovation here. What this also means is that even if you’ve only played a handful of games before, you’ll find Paper Monsters Recut very easy.
ach world has a boss or two, and even these are pretty simple. It usually involves dodging attacks and then launching a counterattack a number of times, and eventually the boss will fall and drop a key for you to enter the next location. If you’re used to a more challenging platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy and the like, then this game probably won’t be for you.
However I do see it as a good entry into the genre for kids or someone who hasn’t played many platformers before. It’s easy to pick up and play, and it’s very forgiving. If you lose all three health hearts then you’ll lose a life, but you’ll only lose a small amount of progress thanks to the liberal checkpointing system. This only happened a few times to me, but it could have been handled better. If you lose a life and go back in the level a short way, none of the monsters will respawn, so it ends up feeling a bit like a corpse run, which is never a good thing.
Paper Monsters Recut is a fine game, it just lacks ambition. You don’t need to do much exploring to find enough items to reach the next level. The mechanics are functional, but there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and often better. If you’re a platforming veteran, you’ll probably get bored, but thankfully the game doesn’t outstay its welcome, as you’ll probably be able to finish it in about four or five hours. It’s a decent title, but one that could certainly be improved upon in the future.
Functional platforming, cute style
No innovation, mechanics lacking in variety