Paperbark is a strange game to review because I fundamentally really like the game but it objectively has quite a few flaws to it too. This is a children’s story book brought to gaming life without too much gameplay to get in the way of a simple adventure. It sure is cute though!
You play as a beautifully realised wombat who is enjoying life in the Australian outback. Over the course of six short chapters you rummage for some food, wander about some animals and then towards the end escape a wildfire. You are never in peril in the game – it’s designed to be played by or with little ones. In many ways it reminds me of a TV show I loved as a kid – The Animals of Farthingwood. The same vibe carries over and its environmental themes ring out.
How this translates to gameplay though is just simply clicking on the screen for where you’d like the wombat to go. Along the way about 100 collectable bugs are discoverable by clicking on them and this may be some light replayability but you’ll get most of them if you keep your eyes peeled and just walk forward slowly. Musical cues are largely understated but add a weight to the simple story, narrated by an Australian girl. Everything is wholesome and nothing really is wrong with the experience at all. It just ends so quickly and never goes beyond just clicking to move forward. The best bit about the movement is that the watercolour graphics reveal themselves as you click around the screen so you are painting the books illustrations before your eyes. It’s an excellent gimmick and works well.
Ultimately, whether its worth it to you comes down to if you’ll come back and replay it over and over as a storybook for little ones or yourself. It’s nice that some proceeds go to support those effected by the Australian wildfires. As a gaming experience though, no matter how nice and warm it made me feel, it is undeniably light on content and interaction.
This is easily the most wholesome 6.5/10 I’ve ever given.
Paperbark is a lovely storybook adventure that is warm and cosy. It is just over way too soon and lacks depth in what it does.
A warm storybook feel that evokes a bedtime story.
The watercolour reveal graphics work a treat.
Some excellent sound design that conveys more than the sum of its parts.
Extremely basic gameplay that doesn't engage hugely.
Story beats are over too quickly to make huge impacts.
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