Gaming News
Reviews

Paper Trail review – “Another great Netflix addition to its growing roster”

  • Paper Trail is the newest Netflix Games addition that challenges you to fold the space around you
  • Unlock paths, grab keys and move obstacles to progress through the world
  • Explore a story of parental burden and dreams of independence

Netflix Games’ lineup has been rock-solid for years now, and we don’t need to explain why. But for those who’ve walked in late, whether it’s some pretty major releases like Samurai Shodown or indie hits like Into the Rift, this part of the regular Netflix subscription brings some surprising, and very enjoyable titles to mobile.

Today’s addition is Paper Trail, from Newfangled Games, and Henry Hoffman the award-winning creator of Hue. It takes you through the story of aspiring academic Paige, a girl gifted with the strange power to fold space like paper. You’ll solve puzzles involving dragging the corners of the very world you’re in to form pathways, circumvent obstacles and more.

But how does it hold up? Well, let’s dig in.

Paper Trail story

A young girl in a cave from an isometric perspective.

In Paper Trail you play as Paige (pun intended, we assume) as she runs away from home to escape her overbearing parents and reach the Big City to live her dream of attending university. Along the way, she’ll explore a huge variety of quaint and mystical places, ranging from deep caves to possibly magical forests. Offering both a narrative to experience and plenty of puzzles, you’ll find out exactly what the future holds for Paige and what she discovers about the world, and herself, on these travels.

Paper Trail gameplay

The gameplay in Paper Trail switches between shorter narrative sequences and more open point-and-tap exploration. However, what they both share in common is the core mechanic of ‘folding’ the world and pictures. Functioning as mini-puzzles you need to figure out the correct sequence or direction to fold the different areas, changing the world in different ways, like rebuilding a bridge or fixing a lighthouse. A young girl talks to an old hermit in a cave from an isometric perspective.

Advertisement

It’s surprisingly intuitive once you get the hang of it, and the system has numerous surprising quirks to it. For example, when you fold the ‘paper’ of the world you can see what’s on the other side, allowing you to figure out even before you fold it whether or not it’s oriented correctly, and use simple guesses to figure out which way is correct based on what you can see.

Of course, it’s not just folding paper you need to worry about. There are many additional wrinkles, like forming paths, dragging obstacles out of the way or getting keys to open up routes. It feels as if the paper folding is the core mechanic around which the others are built, rather than just the gimmick for a walking simulator.

Graphics

Like a lot of indie games, Paper Trail uses a quite minimalist art style, but extremely well done. The combination of primary colours with more nuanced shades really does look good on mobile even if you sometimes have to squint for the details. The key art for each narrative sequence is also great and helps to communicate the story while making the most of the game’s paper-folding mechanics. A young woman pushes a short statue of a man with a shield.

While it’s obvious that Paper Trail wasn’t originally built for mobile, playing with headphones in a comfortable recliner makes it easy to get lost in the game world. Some players who struggle with content on smaller screens may have issues, however, but overall there’s no risk of losing key items in the background like with some other games making the jump to mobile.

What I liked in Paper Trail

A young woman in a rustic town next to a short statue of a man with a shield.

While Paper Trail isn’t part of a genre I typically enjoy, I did find it quite a relaxing experience. The sound work is excellent with plenty of ambient noise and music that help you get into the mood for the story. The paper-folding puzzle mechanics are also very intuitive and they’re separated by section so you never feel overwhelmed. And if you really need it there’s also a helpful hint button that displays each fold in turn, so you can always get a tip for one specific mood and figure it out from there.

What I didn’t like

This could be better phrased as, ‘What I think people might not like’. While the story of Paper Trail is definitely quite universal in its appeal, for some it might feel a bit stereotypically ‘indie game’ as it deals with the complications of growing up and family issues. If you’re looking for bang-bang shooty-shooty action that’ll be a definite disappointment, but if you’re also looking for something new and fresh, this might not be it. It’s not a bad story by any means, just not anything we haven’t necessarily seen before. A young woman next to a large bonfire in an autumnal forest.

Admittedly the controls can also be a little bit finicky at times. For example, if you move from one section to another and accidentally block yourself off when folding the environment, you have to then move back to that section to unfold it. It never gets to the point of being tiresome, but it also feels a bit unnecessary. You may also struggle at some points with the very specific folding patterns, but once you get the hang of them and the thought process behind them then it becomes a bit simpler.

Conclusion

Paper Trail is arguably one of the best representations of what makes Netflix Games a genuinely great service. Like the OG Netflix, before they began trying to squeeze money out of the reality TV crowd, it feels experimental and chock-full of games you won’t find promoted on other services.

yt

Paper Trail has enough puzzles to please any Candy Crush-loving mum, while also having the depth and narrative to appeal to a broad audience. We do recommend it, but if you’re an experienced indie game player, and a little tired of delving into a character’s psyche and more quaint, minimalist aesthetics this may not be for you.



Of course, there is one caveat to all of this. And that’s since it’s on Netflix Games, Paper Trail is available for the low price of absolutely free (Okay, you do need a subscription so technically it’s not free). With that in mind we can’t recommend you give it a go enough, after all, even if it doesn’t seem like your thing when you step out of your comfort zone you may find something truly magical between the pages.

Paper Trail icon

Download now!

Advertisement

Related posts

Netflix’s Death’s Door review – “A cute dungeon crawler with vicious combat”

admin

Pilgrims review – “A quirky adventure game that lets you flex your creativity”

admin

Porsche Design HONOR Magic V2 RSR review – “A true technological marvel”

admin