There’s a whole host of things I thought Papo y Yo did really well. The setting of a magical neighborhood where houses stand up and walk around was a great use of architecture. I often lament (privately, to myself, into a stiff drink) that even though architecture in games is not constrained by reality, too many designers still think in terms of strict realism.
The music also carried a lot of the mood for the early game. The transformation of Monster wouldn’t have the same impact without the intense drums—or for that matter, the way his transformation happens in dreamlike slow motion before he chomps into you and throws you away.
I thought the puzzles in the game was the right amount of “filling.” It gave you time to enjoy the goofy emoticons Monster popped out whenever he unthinkingly trotted between two fruit-spawning trees, which let you develop a weird connection with him, but it wasn’t too hard or too frequent such that it really got in the way of the stuff you wanted to see—the horrible realization of Quico that Monster is really someone else. I think the worst thing the designers could have done was given us a full Zelda-like experience, where we fiddle with items and inventories and side quests. That would have diluted our time with Monster.
And that final scene, Jesus. Since Monster is often a walking puzzle piece—go here, stand on this switch—we get a very systematic view of his motivations. He likes fruit, but if there’s no fruit he sleeps. He likes frogs more than he likes fruit (and will knock a frog out of your hands). He behaves docilely but selfishly when he’s normal. He behaves aggressively when he’s tripping on frog juice. The last puzzle in the game makes the pieces of that puzzle clear—as clear as you were afraid it would be from the first scene. It’s not a shocking revelation to the player (or even to Quico, I guess), but disposing of the pieces of the puzzle has an element of finality and closure as you strip away the metaphor and dispose of Monster once and for all.
Speaking of finality and closure:
WHY THE FUCK DOES THIS GAME HAVE COLLECTIBLES THAT ONLY APPEAR IN THE SECOND PLAYTHROUGH. THAT COMPLETELY GOES AGAINST THE ENTIRE MESSAGE OF THE WHOLE FUCKING GAME.