I wasn’t expecting to be at GX Australia’s final event this year. Even after being invited, I was expecting mostly to hang out with friends and maybe take a photo or two. Imagine my surprise when I picked up a piece of my childhood at one of the booths.
From its origins as a student project to a celebrated interactive illustration of Australian wildlife (due for release early 2018), Paperbark is a refreshing change of pace and gorgeously visualised take on the Australian wilderness. The free-roaming nature of Paper House’s debut title makes for a relaxed experience that’s less of a “game” in the traditional sense and more of a picture book in more ways than one.
Let’s back up a bit. There’s a genre of kid’s storybooks, the appeal of which is found not just in its writing but in the incredible amount of detail added to the imagery. I’m not just talking about images directly related to the story, but bits and pieces that would keep kids (and adults who appreciate this kind of thing) enthralled for a lot longer than you might expect. Titles that come to mind include Animalia (Graeme Base), Bamboozled (David Legge) and the iconic Where’s Wally/Waldo series, wherein every double-page represents an overwhelming wealth of detail.
Paperbark is a lot more coherent and less goofy than these, but keeps a high volume of content spread across the greater stage. There’s a number of critters and doodads hidden around every chapter that you can collect, picking up some trivia about Australian wildlife as you do. It might sound overwhelming, but you’re never shown more than you want to see as you follow the wombat waddling its way into the world as you paint it with your fingers.
And that’s all that can be said about it, really. A nice way to relax and pass the time with something that doesn’t strain to reach the peaks of grand narrative or spectacle, but instead provides you with the rich range of Australian flora and fauna served with a wombat’s tale.
For more information head over to the official Paperbark website here.