Paper Trail review: Fold that W

Paper Trail review: Fold that W
Images via Newfangled Games

Written by 

Tarran Stockton


14th May 2024 15:00

Indie games rarely get the privilege of a big marketing push, so making first impressions - whether it's the first reveal, a trailer, or the Steam page - is vital for success and forcing potential players to actually remember your game exists.

For me, Paper Trail is one of those games I couldn't forget after first seeing a trailer earlier this year, and after getting the chance to play it all the way through, it'll remain in my mind as one of my favourite indie experiences of 2024.

GGRecon Verdict

Paper Trail had set high expectations, and Newfangled Games meets and exceeds them, combining inspired puzzle design with gorgeous art and atmosphere to leave me very excited for what it turns its talent to next.

Beyond the page

puzzle in Paper Trail
Click to enlarge

Paper Trail is a puzzle adventure game set in a papercraft world, where you have the ability to fold in the pages you walk around on to manipulate your environment and move forward. The concept is simple at its core, allowing you to, for example, fold the corner of a page inward to open a new pathway to the next page, but it's a novel way of engaging with a world, and developer Newfangled Games mines the hell out of the idea.

It has the traditional puzzle game structure of stages, giving you different levels of varying environments, concepts, and difficulty to work through along your journey. It's worth noting that Paper Trail isn't some punishing or cerebral puzzler though; there are certainly moments that left me a bit stumped, but its complexity never exceeds its grasp, maintaining a casual tone throughout that fits the rest of the colourful package.

As you'd expect, each stage has a sort of gimmick that is introduced, ramping up the variables in how you need to approach puzzles. For example, some pathways are blocked by boulders that need to be pushed, or numbered platforms need to be joined together to allow you to walk over them.

They're all simple additions that keep the concept fresh, and with how short the game is overall (just over five hours on my playthrough), none of these ever get close to outstaying their welcome, and the designers never pile on too much at once. Add in the optional collectables and specific achievements, and many of the puzzle rooms have additional challenges for those who want to push the mechanics to their limits.

Arts & crafts

cutscene in Paper Trail
Click to enlarge

Paper Trail isn't just one puzzle after another either, as there is a connecting narrative that follows the protagonist Paige as she leaves home to journey to university for the first time. You start the game sneaking out at night against your parent's wishes, and between the stages, Paige narrates a little about her ongoing journey and her childhood.

It's a simple story that touches on aspects like self-determination and letting go, but I wish it connected to Paige's abilities more, forcing her to reckon with her gift of folding temporal space in a more meaningful way. Despite that, I can't fault much about how it's presented.

These story vignettes don't stop the gameplay, as each one is presented as a small puzzle, again letting you fold the corners and edges of the page to create a new picture and trigger the next line of narration. These are much simpler than the actual gameplay puzzles, but it's a nice way of keeping you involved rather than a spectator.

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Despite the colourful look and casual, largely joyous tone, Paper Trail also has a real sense of mood that feels almost disconnected from the rest of the experience. The sparse music hints at a sombreness that hangs in the air throughout, and while there's a story beat later on that fits this mood perfectly, there's more to it beyond the confines of the page that I'll be thinking about for a while.

As I mentioned in the intro, Paper Trail was memorable from the second I first saw it, and this is largely down to the art style. Fitting in with the paper theme, the game has a flat, watercolour style with a lot of contrast. Not only is this a fantastic style for clarity, signifying which parts of the page you can interact with, but it's also beautiful to look at across the dank caves, verdant swamps, and snowy cities you'll explore.

The Verdict

Paper Trail collectible
Click to enlarge

Paper Trail had set high expectations, and Newfangled Games meets and exceeds them, combining inspired puzzle design with gorgeous art and atmosphere to leave me very excited for what it turns its talent to next.


Reviewed on PC. Code provided by the publisher.

Tarran Stockton
About the author
Tarran Stockton
Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.