Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: My Beautiful Paper Smile
My Beautiful Paper Smile begins in a children’s school, a very evil one. You play as one of the Joyous, children who have been abducted and placed in this institution after a mad king wanted everyone to be smiling and happy. To accomplish this, the Joyous are forced to wear masks with horrific grimacing smiles and abide by strict rules. If the Joyous do not live up to their names, they disappear. Obviously, your goal is to escape.
Creating a compelling horror setting is critical for a game’s success. Horror games like Bioshock or Resident Evil 8 are greatly emphasized by their fascinating and intricate locales. On the flip side, Five Nights at Freddy’s, which takes place entirely in one security office, seems a little less intriguing to me. Location is key.
The most impressive aspect of My Beautiful Paper Smile is the setting. Not just in looks, which are incredible, but also the intriguing lore and premise. Thrown into an almost completely alien world of insane social norms, the setting alone of MBPS is enough to put me ill at ease.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
My Beautiful Paper Smile plays a bit like a point-and-click adventure in a 3d environment. With fixed cameras, you can stroll up and down the halls of the facility (and not the facility, after the first chapter or so), looking for items and talking to interactable people. There are some instances of chase sequences and “combat,” but these are few and far between
The fantastic papercraft aesthetic and harrowing sound design are tremendous on their own. But what works is that My Beautiful Paper Smile takes place in a completely novel setting. Outlast, but if it were an asylum for children in a society that is completely deranged. Each little tidbit of information about the lore of this game makes you eager to find out more, and plenty of horrors are revealed throughout the story.
My Beautiful Paper Smile is great, but with some faults. For one, the gameplay in some sections is a little tedious. This is a very slow-paced game, and in the beginning section, where you are going through the daily tasks of whatever the Joyous institution is called, seemed to drag on for a bit. So too were the chance and combat sequences a little out of place, though I will say that the stealthy sections fit perfectly.
How To Fix It:
The fascinating setting and premise more than makes up for the gameplay in My Beautiful Paper Smile. If I were to make some unrealistic suggestions, as the game is fine as is, I would say they should change the focus of the suspenseful gameplay to more of a stealthy style. But as I said, the occasionally lackluster gameplay sequences are not common enough to worry about.
Pretty much every great horror game has an interesting setting. It might even be the most important part of the genre. My Beautiful Paper Smile has created a visually and narratively impressive setting for a truly bizarre experience, and all of these factors come together to create an amazing horror game. Not only that but there’s a free prologue too.
You can buy My Beautiful Paper Smile on Steam by clicking here.