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Paper Trail Review

Nintendo Switch by Newfangled Games 0 text

Paper Trail Thumbnail

Puzzle paradise with paper folds

Paper Trail is a marvel in the most literal sense. It’s a dynamic, ever-changing puzzle adventure brimming with charm and brilliance in every facet, buoyed by a simple, touching story, and primary game mechanics that feel like real magic in action. I’ve never played a game like Paper Trail, and I’ve never felt so encouraged to test myself against such complex, challenging puzzles.

The setup here is relatively simple: you are a young girl named Paige who really, really wants to go to university, despite her parents being overly protective for mysterious reasons. They can’t really stop her quest, though, as she’s discovered something unique: the power to bend and fold space-time to her whims. What follows is an adventure of self-discovery as our hero traverses a variety of strange lands, on her quest to reach “university” – standing in for freedom, self-belief, and independence.

The simplicity of the plot allows Paper Trail‘s gameplay to shine outright, with the narrative serving as a lovely set dressing for the main event: paper-folding puzzles that frustrate and reward with a wonderful balance. Paper Trail forces you to think deeply, and then think harder, as you fold paper, flip levers, jump on platforms, cross rivers, and manipulate your world with required concentration.

It’s easy to make a wrong step in Paper Trail, and to find yourself fruitlessly flipping back and forth between realms, searching for a way forward – but by design, the game rewards experimentation, patience, and dedication (in that order).

My path through Paper Trail was often curtailed by a challenge I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. New elements are introduced often, so once you get the hang of folding paper edges to form a traversable map, you’ll find statues that can’t be folded, rocks that can only exist on one fold, and platforms that must be moved to complete puzzles.

With deep thought, the solution slowly unravels, in a way that genuinely rewards a slower playthrough. You must take time to smell the roses, and let yourself sit back to understand Paige’s journey and how her abilities work. Of course, if you get stuck, you can also consult a very handy hint page that gives you the breakdown of how folds must be initiated (although not where you need to go within them).

This slower pace, and the journey to an eventual solution, lends a real sense of gravitas to Paige’s journey. By the time you make it through swamps, forests, and strange villages, you feel like you’ve genuinely thrown yourself through the wringer – and that you’ve accomplished much in your trek.

Putting the final touches on each folding puzzle, and making your way through the game’s many paths, is a reward unto itself. It inspires a feeling that is unmatched. You’ll want to pump your fists, shout into the air, and claim reward for your next big triumph. Paige deserves to get to university, and with your gritty determination, she’ll get there.

Even in the later stages, when statue blocks pop up and your paper folding is mirrored so you have to think about all of your moves in sideways and reverse form, Paper Trail remains encouraging by design. It wants you to take time, to appreciate the scenery and its storybook art style, and play around with the game’s many edges until you find a viable solution.

It’s also forgiving of those who get stuck, with its hint system serving as a judgment-free helping hand when the road gets long and the path ahead seems to fold and twist in intimidating new ways. This hint system is particularly helpful, as while Paper Trail is imbued with a real novelty and magic that should be experienced naturally, I suspect there are many who’ll have trouble wrapping their head around its folds.

When you’re in the flow state and you can see through the fabric of the universe to discover the perfect solution, Paper Trail is incredible. But when you’re halfway through a sequence of fold/walk/move/grab/, and then you lose your grip on what you were trying to do, there’s a fair frustration that comes along with that. Sometimes, you just want to experience the magic of gameplay standalone, and let the game’s world move you – and to that end, Paper Trail also has you covered.

It’s just nice. You can take on its many challenges and twist yourself in knots trying to get Paige to university – but the game is also very forgiving and provides an approachable solution for those who may trip on its many cobblestone paths.

Every system works harmoniously to deliver this journey with aplomb and to make players active, useful participants with every step.

It’s rare to have a modern puzzle game feel so unique and novel in its approach, but Paper Trail manages well, with a plethora of incredibly cool, well-designed ideas combining to elevate its storybook tale.

Love and care shine through with every fold, making Paper Trail feel like a living work of art. Its greatest puzzles take time to solve, but at every turn, there’s reason to forge ahead and to devote yourself further to its beautiful, pastel world.

Gameplay 9

Paper Trail’s gameplay is a masterclass in puzzle design. The core mechanic revolves around folding paper to manipulate the environment, creating pathways, and solving intricate puzzles. Each fold transforms the world, revealing hidden pathways and altering the landscape in ways that are both surprising and delightful. The game introduces new elements gradually, keeping the experience fresh and challenging without overwhelming the player.

The pacing is perfect, allowing players to take their time and think through each puzzle. There’s no rush, no time limit, which makes the game feel relaxing despite its challenging puzzles. The hint system is a great addition, providing helpful nudges without giving away the solution, ensuring that players don’t get too frustrated.

One of the standout features is the seamless integration of the paper-folding mechanic into the game’s narrative. Paige’s ability to fold space-time isn’t just a gameplay gimmick; it’s a central part of her journey and her growth as a character. This makes the gameplay feel meaningful and connected to the story.

Graphics 8

The art style of Paper Trail is one of its most striking features. The game uses a flat, watercolour aesthetic that perfectly fits the paper theme. The environments are beautifully illustrated, from lush forests to dark caves, each area feels like a carefully crafted work of art. The pastel colours and simple yet detailed designs create a world that is both visually appealing and easy to navigate.

The character design is charming, with Paige and the other characters fitting seamlessly into the storybook-like world. The animations are smooth and fluid, making the folding mechanics feel natural and satisfying.

However, while the art style is beautiful, it may not appeal to everyone. Some players might find the simplistic visuals less engaging compared to more graphically intense games. But for those who appreciate a unique and cohesive art style, Paper Trail is a visual delight.

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Storyline 7

The storyline of Paper Trail is simple but effective. Paige’s journey to university is a metaphor for self-discovery and independence, themes that resonate well

with the gameplay mechanics. The narrative is presented through small vignettes and environmental storytelling, which keeps the focus on the puzzles while still providing enough context to keep players invested in Paige’s journey.

The story’s simplicity allows the gameplay to shine, but it also means that the narrative depth is somewhat lacking. There are moments of emotional resonance, especially as Paige reflects on her past and her relationship with her parents, but these moments are fleeting. The game could have benefited from a deeper exploration of Paige’s abilities and their implications on her world and her journey.

Despite its simplicity, the story serves its purpose well. It provides a framework for the puzzles and adds an emotional layer to the gameplay, making the journey feel personal and meaningful.

Multiplayer N/A

Paper Trail is a single-player experience, and its design does not include any multiplayer elements. The game’s focus on introspective puzzle-solving and personal narrative fits well within a solo play structure. Introducing multiplayer could detract from the individual’s experience and the personal journey that the game aims to provide.

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Issues and Community Feedback

Paper Trail has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community. Players have praised its unique gameplay mechanics, beautiful art style, and the satisfying challenge of its puzzles. The hint system has been particularly appreciated, as it allows players to seek help without feeling like they are cheating or giving up on the puzzles.

Conclusion 8

Paper Trail is a beautifully crafted puzzle adventure that combines innovative mechanics with a charming art style and a touching, if simple, story. Its unique paper-folding gameplay sets it apart from other puzzle games, offering a fresh and engaging experience. The game’s thoughtful design and gradual introduction of new elements keep the puzzles challenging yet fair, making it a satisfying journey from start to finish.

While the narrative could delve deeper into Paige’s abilities and the emotional aspects of her journey, it provides a solid backdrop for the gameplay and adds a personal touch to the experience. The art style, though simple, is stunning and perfectly complements the game’s theme.

Paper Trail is a must-play for puzzle enthusiasts and those looking for a relaxing yet challenging adventure. It’s a testament to the creativity and talent of Newfangled Games and leaves players excited for what the developer will create next.

Pros and Cons

  • Gorgeous art style
  • Novel puzzle mechanics
  • Sense of mood and atmosphere
  • Narrative lacks depth
  • Slow pacing at times

Player Quotes

Paper Trail has been described by players as "a magical journey through a beautifully crafted world." One player noted, "The puzzles are challenging but fair, and the hint system is a lifesaver." Another praised the art style, saying, "Every area feels like a painting come to life."

Explore More

Please note that this review is based on the feedback and sentiments of players on various Reddit threads and does not represent the views of all players.