Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Paper Trail’s Demo Provides A Beautiful and Enigmatic Puzzle

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This summer has seen the release of numerous demos and we’re slowly working our way through them here at The Fandomentals. If you like simple mechanics, but engrossing puzzle games, Paper Trail looks ready to provide hours of entertainment.

Developed and published by Newfangled Games, Paper Trail is a top down puzzle game in which you play as a young woman named Paige.

The demo is, understandably, light on story, but according to the Steam page, Paige is a young academic, setting out from home to pursue her studies. Along the way she will meet a wide cast of characters, who tell her their stories and teach her about the wider world.

None of that is, admittedly, in the demo. Well, there are characters, but they’re not especially forthcoming about their stories. But that’s okay, it’s a demo! It doesn’t need to have a lot of narrative weight. What the demo for Paper Trail does have is gorgeous art.

Paper Trail Home Screen

It also delivers on promised puzzles.

Paper Trail mechanics

Lots and lots of puzzles.

What you’re seeing in that gif is the main element of Paper Trail. Folding the environment to solve puzzles. This can range from traversing gaps (as shown above) to making a pathway to push something, to clearing or repairing an object on the map. That’s just what’s in demo too, the trailers show a few other mechanics, though we’ll just be focusing on the demo today.

We should also talk about the artwork, because it is gorgeous. The demo focuses on these areas full of cool blues with the occasional pop of red/pink, and it is a lovely color scheme. However, if that’s not your thing, don’t worry. The trailers and official site promise a lot more.

Oh yeah, and the game seems to be taking place on a table?

Gameplay wise, Paper Trail is fairly straightforward as far as top down puzzle games go. The keyboard doesn’t factor at all, you use the mouse to direct Paige where to go, but she will only move in straight lines and only turn at right angles. Quite a few puzzles are built around the fact that Paige can’t travel at diagonals. The mouse is also used to interact with characters and, more importantly for the demo, to fold the world.

By clicking and dragging on the corners and edges of the sheet of paper Paige is currently on/in, you can change the landscape. This is where the game shines, with the rest of the game being centered around what you can accomplish with this mechanic.

It’s a very creative mechanic, even if it does raise some questions that the demo doesn’t bother to address. If Paige has magical powers that allow her to do this, or if you’re an outside force partnered with her, is not clear.

Regardless of if the full game will explain itself or not, this is a very creative and fun game. Questions about the game don’t detract from it, at least not for me. And even if it’s just a mechanic, that’s fine. With gorgeous artwork, creative and intuitive puzzle mechanics, and the promise of more to come, I’m very much looking forward to the full release of Paper Trail.

Paper Trail will be coming to PC and consoles early next year. If this article got your interest, take a look at the demo, now available on Steam!

Images Courtesy of Newfangled Games

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  • Molly

    Gay, she/her. An unabashed Disney fangirl, who may or may not have an excessive love of shipping, comics, and RPGs. She's not saying. And anything you've heard about attempts to start a cult centered around Sofia Boutella is...probably true.

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