Paper Trail capitalises on the magic of a single brilliant idea

February 14, 2024
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Puzzles are a tricky thing to perfect in video games. They’re present in so many different genres – typically giving us some small goal to work towards between blasting enemies and searching for resources – but are also rarely as engaging as they could be, when not a game’s main focus. For more creative solutions (and creative problems) we have to turn to the dedicated puzzle genre, of course. These days, indie games rule the space, but with so many out there in the wild west of digital storefronts what makes a puzzler stand out? Paper Trail answers this with one basic idea: folding paper.

Folding the piece of paper your character is standing on reveals the picture on the underside of that page, which can have keys, doors, and pathways to your destination. Or, the underside can fill in part of a pattern required to magically unlock other areas. You can fold pages from the top, bottom, sides, or four corners. Playing Paper Trail is as straight-forward as that, but simple controls do not equal a simple game.

I’d hazard a guess we’ve all had to push a heavy object onto a switch to get through a door at some point in our gaming histories, so it’s no surprise Paper Trail includes this almost customary puzzle in its demo. However, I’ve never had to fold my way to the solution before. With this one addition, a mainstay puzzle suddenly requires a whole new way of thinking. What corner do I fold first? In what order? Where should the statue be when I start to fold? Where should I be standing? It doesn’t have a wildly complicated solution, but it does feel satisfying when the lightbulb moment happens. This one new layer of thinking is easy enough to comprehend, but tough enough to impress.

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