Paper Trail Review – Stunning Views and Charming Tales

Ditch the pen-and-paper adventures and prepare to try out a cozy new challenge. Paper Trail is available now across PC, via Steam, and folds together a delightful coming-of-age fairy tale with some origami-inspired puzzles. This wonderful new title comes from the indie outfit Newfangled Games and follows a budding young academic, Paige, as she ventures out into a big bad world on a secret endeavor to attend university. With unknown exploits ahead, a vast range of environments to traverse, and some hard lessons, this fearless maiden might come unstuck pretty quickly, if it wasn’t for this game’s unique power. For every problem that arises, there is a solution, thanks to Paige’s ability to fold the world like paper.

A Gorgeous Backdrop

Twisting the world to your will is an interesting idea, but an adorable title like Paper Trail needs to bring its audience into the fold. Between each page of this storybook, players can find a wonderfully illustrated range of locals, new friends, and strange swamp lands that could be torn from a children’s picture book. The slightly askew angles and placid tones of the opening coastal towns and desert rat run are a little reminiscent of Wandersong and even the more dynamic Jusant, rather than something as boisterous as Adventure Pals. Each chapter of this quest is illuminated in its own particular tone. Blue for the coast, sandy yellows in the desert, and sandy orange across the pumpkin patches provide more than an identifying aesthetic to each region. It adds a touch of much-needed variety that helps prime players to continue moving onwards and take on whatever awaits.

 

 

Old Crones, Crocodiles, And Ancient Adventures

Before everything fully unfolds, developer Newfangled Games ensures that this top-down page-turner is easy to grasp. Moving Paige doesn’t take more than a quick analog stick or mouse movement. Interactions with in-game activities and actionable items really only need a quick button tap, and the core folding mechanic is a click-and-grab scenario. Simply move the cursor to the edge of a page, click, and drag to flip over the corners or edges of any particular page.

This concept reveals a hidden environment filled with new obstacles, paths, and objects that can intersect the topside. Where other games might play this upside down for chills, Paper Trail allows players to move freely about this second set of possibilities. Treating the canvas of each stage like a new painting that can be folded over on each other, and adds plenty of possibilities.

Early demonstrations might mean folding a path over into view, folding it over the top of a broken path, and walking around the obstacle. Later options create multi-stage puzzles where objects must be moved around the map, boulders shimmied in a constrained space, switches toggled, and deductive puzzles unlocked over both sides of each scenario. When Paper Trail succeeds, it threads the needle between complexity and engagement, giving players new ideas and building on the firmly established mechanics that are drip-fed into every new environment. Newfangled Games even include a hint system which puts the power in your hands.Players picking up Paper Trail won’t have to interpret the very particular intent behind each twist in the tale. Things have moved on since Monkey Island pioneered point-and-click.

pumpkin set in the autumn - paper trail

What this title shares with those early brain teasers is a wonderful narrative. A painted aesthetic, a hands-on mechanic, and a soothing soundtrack are key to the cozy concept, but Paige ties you to the story. Voiced by Angel Haven Rey, this protagonist tells her own story, with the babbling vowels of peripheral actors cementing the narrative around this young runaway. Between levels you’ll unfold the corners of a scene and advance important story moments, dragging things further forward and elegantly tying the narrative to the core of the game mechanics.

A Page Turner

Paper Trail is a game that intertwines the protagonist and her ability to warp the world. That makes the discussion surprisingly spoiler-heavy. So, instead of detailing all of the upcoming challenges that await Paige, I’ll simply say that I am utterly enamored with a wonderful story. Pulling together well-worn story tropes, plunging an eager young explorer out into a new world, and crafting a vibrant new land that is equal parts exciting and dangerous, the team behind this puzzler manages simple ideas executed effectively and provides players with seemingly endless possibilities, that stick to a tight path forward. It doesn’t add up to a hugely replayable experience or explore the freedom that Viewfinder’s 3D model provides, but it is a delightfully illustrated story. I couldn’t be happier to have ushered in a holiday to the home of origami with this cozy creation.

Paper Trail is coming to PC,  Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch now.
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Good
  • Beautiful
  • Constantly Engaging
  • Unique Paper Folding Concept
Bad
  • Not The Toughest Challenge
  • Limited Freedom in 2D
9
Amazing
Written by
For those of you who I’ve not met yet, my name is Ed. After an early indoctrination into PC gaming, years adrift on the unwashed internet, running a successful guild, and testing video games, I turned my hand to writing about them. Now, you will find me squawking across a multitude of sites and even getting to play games now and then

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