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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

This indie developer spent 6 years sculpting a game from 5,000 pieces of paper

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Papetura is a point-and-click adventure game made entirely out of physical, real paper. It’s a project six years in the making and developer Tomasz Ostafin cut and glued together every character, item, and location in the game by hand. The result is nothing short of impressive.

From the game’s very first puzzle, the use of paper is remarkable. You play as a little paper doll named Pape who is trapped in a shell-like prison. To escape, you need to light up each of the room’s glowing flowers to open the door. What is instantly remarkable is the way that the paper has been sculpted to filter light. The petals of the flowers, delicate wings of the butterfly, and the chamber’s cell-like walls have all been carefully constructed to filter light differently, producing dramatically different shades of orange and yellow.

I can’t imagine the time it would take to build something like this, and after you leave the prison, Papetura’s world opens up with even more impressive structures. Soon after you escape, you see that fire-breathing monsters are setting the world ablaze, which is obviously not great when you’re made out of paper, and it’s up to Pape and their friend Tura to put a stop to it.

Papetura feels like it would sit comfortably next to any of Amanita Design’s adventures, and not just because they share the same ethereal music composed by Floex (Tomas Dvorak). There’s something intimate about its small world, it feels delicate and personal, unlike the sprawling open-worlds we’re used to. The game is quite slow in pace, but it feels purposeful so you can get an eye-full of its gorgeous environments.

Each area you play through seems to be even more meticulously made than the next. There are giant open environments that require precise pattern work, and then there are also details like a tiny paper stool, the model so small it looks hardly bigger than your thumb nail. 

There’s a chamber further into the game where its walls have been made from tightly woven paper spirals, glued together in a painstakingly consistent pattern. If you want to understand exactly how arduous a task like making Papetura would be, I highly recommend you take a look at the game’s development diary below.

Papetura is a feast for the eyes. The only drawback I found was that sometimes the puzzles can often be a little unclear, but there’s a helpful hint system to get through those moments where you’re truly stumped. Papetura is definitely worth picking up if you like short, handcrafted adventures, I just hope Ostafin didn’t get too many paper cuts when making it.  

Here are some more gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos:

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