Platform: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox
Developer: Secret Item Games
I try to give every game I play a fair shake. Really, I do: if a developer has put their hard work into a game, that deserves to be rewarded. But I don’t think a game has ever tested my resolve for that as much as Paperman: Adventure Delivered.
It’s annoying to an unbelievable degree. It’s a pain to play. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that was less enjoyable than this one. In every respect, it’s awful.
To Paperman’s credit, it starts off with a cutscene that isn’t the worst thing ever. It’s some fairytale-style nonsense about golden letters and dragons that sounds like the dumbest children’s book imaginable, but, really, that’s fine – plenty of games have dumb premises, so it’s not as if Paperman is inherently bad just because it starts off in a way that I don’t care for.
But the moment you start playing the game, that’s where things immediately fall apart.
See, the titular Paperman – though, really, that should be Papermen, since you control four different mail carriers (who are also documents that, uh, deliver their non-sentient versions, I guess?) – make little noises every time they jump. High-pitched, grating noises that can’t be turned off, even if you go into the settings and try to turn them down. And seeing as this is a platformer, that means you jump quite a bit…every time accompanied by a sound that will make you want to throw your controller through the TV.
And then you start talking to people giving you tips on how to play. And these tips, too, are accompanied by voices that sound like Beaker from the Muppets on helium – voices whose volume, once again, don’t seem to be impacted by the “Non-character voices” setting in the main menu.
In other words, it took about five minutes for me to loathe Paperman: Adventure Delivered on a visceral level.
And it’s not like the gameplay is any better. Jumps manage the impressive feat of feeling both weightless and plodding; you feel both floaty and like a dead weight at the same time, which I didn’t even know was possible. The physics also suck, so you can never tell how far a jump is going to go, nor can you really tell where you’re going to land.
Running? It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that feels awkward and ungainly, with directions from your thumbsticks feeling more like suggestions than anything else. Combat? You can attack the bad guys, but you’ll never know if you actually hit them, since there’s no real feedback. Special moves? You can switch between the four characters, but only back at checkpoints, which means you’re constantly running back and forth between the last checkpoint and wherever you need to go next.
In the interest of fairness I should note that Paperman: Adventure Delivered also features local multiplayer for up to four players, which could, in theory, mean that I wasn’t getting the full Paperman experience because I was playing solo. In my defense, though, I don’t think I know three people I hate enough to subject them to this game.
Is Paperman: Adventure Delivered the worst game I’ve ever played? Honestly, it’s quite possible. It has no redeeming qualities, and I got more and more annoyed every moment I spent playing it. You can’t just write it off as one of those dumb meme games that clog up digital storefronts that are intentionally bad, nor can you say that it’s so bad it’s good. It’s just flat-out terrible.
Mindscape provided us with a Paperman: Adventure Delivered PS5 code for review purposes.