Less like origami, more like shredded paper.
I’ve always been a sucker for a great platform adventure game, and when you throw eye-popping 3D graphics that are supposed to resemble paper into the mix, well then you might as well have reached into my pocket and emptied out my wallet because I’m already sold. Unfortunately for Paper Titans, while the game holds true on its promise of providing plenty of paper, there is not one sheet of fun adventuring gameplay to be found.
The best thing about Paper Titans is the game’s 3D papery world, which gives off the false illusion of a massively intricate playground with tons of nooks and crannies to explore. But the problems first start to arise when the game begins to introduce its story, which is told through comic-book style panels of images that are devoid of any text. This would have been perfectly fine if you were actually able to tell what was going on in each of the cluttered and similar-looking images. From what I could gather, something bad is happening in Paper Titan world, and it’s time for all the paper citizens to pack up their loose-leaf and start moseying on out of there; but really, your guess is as good as mine here. Because of this severe lack in purpose, it’s often difficult to find any kind of motivation for wanting to play in many moments after.
The actual gameplay of Paper Titans leaves much to be desired, and the finished product couldn’t be farther from its “platform adventure” moniker. Yes there are technically platforms, but the game has about as much depth and adventure to it as the crumbled ball of paper that’s resting at the bottom of my trash can. In each stage, you’ll be given a fixed number of titans to help you reach the goal of that area and collect three bonus stars along the way. Each titan has their own unique abilities, like The Collectors, who are the only creatures who can pick up the stars, and The Throwers, who can launch the other titans onto elevated platforms when standing on a special jump pad.
It’s a shame then that everything about the game world of Paper Titans feels incredibly restrictive and static. For instance, your primary Collector titans can’t hop down from the smallest of platforms unless there is a bouncy tongue ramp nearby that they can use to propel themselves onto the ground. The game very poorly uses these restrictions as the basis for its environmental puzzles: in one stage, I merely had to choose which order I would throw my three Collectors in, because I knew that each one would get permanently trapped up there on their respective platforms afterwards. As you finish more levels, you begin to unlock some paper vehicles piece by piece like hot air balloons, which let your titans travel to other unremarkable locations in the game’s paper world.
However, there are seemingly no rewards for collecting every star, and if you opt to bypass them all completely, then completing each level becomes a walk in the paper-made park (although it’s not like collecting them is particularly difficult either for that matter). Furthermore, each different level set uses the same exact environment for a good five or six stages, with the only difference being the locations of the exit and bonus stars, which are rearranged ever so slightly. This unneeded repetition makes those once-beautiful graphics grow stale very early on in the game experience. What’s more, the shoddy controls certainly don’t help make Paper Titans’ case, as assigning your characters to move and manipulating the camera are both controlled by the same tapping and dragging motions. Don’t be surprised if you get the two mixed up at regular intervals.
One of the more interesting things about Paper Titans is that each time you are introduced to a new titan in the game, you first have to fold them up from a flat, perforated piece of paper, and make them into the 3D characters that you will ultimately control throughout your adventure. This was certainly cool the first few times, but Paper Titans forces you to repeat this exercise whenever a new character is added to the mix, which makes it turn from fun to monotonous all too quickly. The worst part is that you’ll need to fold the same exact character types like Collectors and Throwers multiple times, and there is never any variety to the steps you need to take in order to do this. The game also showed a picture of a printer during these moments, which made me believe that you can actually print the characters out yourself and fold them into real life little paperweights; but again, the lack of any clear instructions makes this feature largely guesswork for the user.
In the end, I think Paper Titans might be a bit of a misnomer here, as nothing about this game – not the characters, nor the world – is particularly epic in stature or in the fun department. While my initial impressions were that Paper Titans would be a stunningly original creation like origami, it becomes painstakingly clear after only a few minutes of playing that this is one platform adventure that has instead been through the paper shredder more than a few times.