Paperman: Adventure Delivered
I got wasted potential inside an envelope
For a long time, 3D platformers were mostly perceived by the public through some icons from big companies, specially those that survived after the boom the genre had on the 90s. Everyone likes when Mario goes to deep space, or if Crash Bandicoot is doing his thing, but, nowadays, an amazing 3D platformer can come from anywhere, most thankfully to indie devs around the world. I'm always ready to try a new one, specially if comes with different characters or concepts.
I became interested on Paperman: Adventure Delivered in this faith of probably discovering a hidden gem (or, at least, an interesting game). The character design of the protagonists is what caught my attention in the promotional art: I believe that you can put cartoony eyes in any object and it will be cute. Yes, Paperman himself can be confused with a mascot from a delivery company, and Express (the envelope one) is literally the old face from a Brazilian paper brand, but they are cute anyway.
Unfortunately, what I received in this package was, mostly, a huge wasted potential. Except for collectibles being delivery things (like letters or brown boxes), there isn't much of "Paperman" in his own game. The story has a generic dragon stealing some golden envelopes, and then the heroes need to go through three not-really-interesting worlds that are not appealing visually or mechanically to rescue the items. I was really expecting something inspired by writing, arts and crafts or just anything related to letters or delivering.
From all the inspiration they could get from the old classics, they chose one of the most infamous ideas ever made in 3D platformers. Do you remember Donkey Kong 64, a game that had FIVE playable characters (with a cool design), but that also color-coded obstacles and collectables to EACH ONE OF THEM? And then you had need to go to specific locations in each stage to change the Kong, get back to the place where you need to use an ability, and keeping doing that to progress in the story?
Paperman: Adventure Delivered does something similar, but not that strange (all collectables can be collected by everyone, at least). Each one of the paper heroes here has a special ability — Paperman can throw letters and be transported to them, Express can dash, Carl (the cardboard box) can push heavy objects and Scrolly (...the paper scroll) can use wind tunnels to jump higher. But, as in DK64, you need to go to a mailbox to change between them, creating a scenario of constant bits of backtracking, just to collecting everything you need in the level.
With smaller and more linear stages like those present in Paperman, this shouldn't be that big of a problem, but playing the game is a challenge by itself. The software never exactly crashed, but the bad performance started to bother me in the first few minutes of gameplay. All the actions felt delayed, the characters didn't seem to respond well to the analog movement and the camera loved to clip through the level's geometry. I don't know if this something only on the Nintendo Switch version (that I played), but it didn't helped to improve the experience.
If Paperman: Adventure Delivered was at least half as good than the character design of its heroes, I would have had a good experience with it. I truly believe that no team wants to make a disappointing experience on purpose, but, as a player, it's hard to recommend it. Even the small qualities aren't enough to compensate the bland scenarios, the constant backtracking when changing characters and the poor and frustrating performance. Maybe this package can be better in the future, but, for now, I'm returning it to sender.