Paper Trail Review - Screenshot 1 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Though plenty of Paper Mario fans are eagerly awaiting the return of one of the greatest games in the series at the time of writing, there’s another new game set in a papery world that we’d suggest you pay attention to. Newfangled Games’ Paper Trail is the debut release of the boutique London-based studio, and its smart mixture of creative puzzle design with gorgeous storybook visuals makes for a compelling puzzle experience. Paper Trail is a pretty simple game at heart, but it’s so fresh in its ideas and execution that it’ll stick around in your mind long after you’ve finished it.

Paper Trail places you in the role of Paige, an intelligent girl living with her family in a quiet seaside village who has aspirations of going to school to become an astrophysicist. Her parents oppose her choice to go to college, however, leading to Paige running away from her family and home towards her goals. Along the way, she uses her ability to change reality to help strangers she encounters, who in turn provide her with companionship as she gets farther away from home. It’s a pretty simple premise, but it’s helped greatly by the voiced ‘journal entries’ as you travel between worlds, which also help flesh out Paige’s tragic backstory and motivations for choosing her vocation. It’s not exactly a ‘deep’ narrative, but it draws you in and lulls you into a sense of ease with its soft magical realism.

The central gimmick of Paper Trail’s puzzle design is that you can use Paige’s reality-bending powers to fold spacetime itself by grabbing the corners or edges of the paper pages she lives on and folding them over to create new pathways to reach exits. Every level has a reverse side with a different layout than the front-facing page, and you’re usually tasked with figuring out the proper sequence of folds to make and when to move Paige as you traverse paths from both the front and back. Often, you’ll have to use the same part of the reverse side multiple times to arrive at a solution, as you repeatedly fold, unfold, and then fold again in different configurations while gradually moving Paige forward.

Things get more complicated as additional level gimmicks are tossed in to really melt your brain with each new world. There’s an early gimmick featuring transparent tiles with faces resembling the six sides of a die and you can only turn the tiles solid (and therefore walkable) if you manage to fold over a matching tile from the reverse side to align with its counterpart on the front-facing side. In another example, a later world introduces slidable tiles to ferry Paige around on either the X or Y axis, leading to many scenarios where you need to make your folds while also considering where you’ll need the tile to bridge a gap and allow Paige to cross.

Paper Trail Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

This all makes for a puzzler that feels equally concise and varied. Paper Trail is the kind of game that gets the most out of its ideas without overdoing anything—just about at the point where it feels like you’re ready for something new, it throws in another gimmick that forces you to reevaluate how you approach puzzles. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like it’s rushing through ideas or offering an overly thin experience; its 10-hour runtime feels like plenty enough to properly explore its mechanics to their fullest extent. And for those of you who want to get the most value out of it, there are a small handful of collectible origami constructs reachable only by solving especially difficult puzzles.

It's also a nicely approachable experience for players of all skill levels, finding elegant solutions that ensure everyone can enjoy it to the fullest. Not only is the difficulty curve expertly judged as puzzles build on previous ideas and slowly increase the complexity, but you can ‘cheat’ at any time if you get stuck. Every screen lets you bring up a transparent step-by-step guide that you can glance at either to just get a nudge on the next step or to learn the complete set of steps for completing that screen. It only shows you which folds to make, so it’s still on you to figure out when and where to move Paige or other level elements, but we still appreciated this option to keep things moving and minimize frustration.

Paper Trail Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

As for its presentation, Paper Trail does a magnificent job of portraying a vast dreamlike world that still has a very ‘homey’ feel regardless of where you go. Whether you’re being carefully watched by adorable frogs peering out from the green muck of a swamp or talking with a new friend you made as you warm yourself by a campfire beneath a bright moon, there’s a tremendous sense of moving through a living world as you explore each new biome and interact with its inhabitants. Couple this liveliness with the papery aesthetic and a bright and distinctive colour palette that changes anew in each world, and you’ve got a game that feels in many ways like a storybook come to life.

Pairing perfectly with these great visuals, the soundtrack gives these worlds a very relaxed atmosphere as various serene, piano-laden tracks play softly in the background. It’s not a particularly memorable collection of songs, but we appreciated how much it helped in adding to the immersion factor as your attention is captured and you’re drawn deeply into the environments.

The only real complaint we have about Paper Trail is really more of a nitpick, which is that the analog controls feel just a little bit too touchy. It can be rather cumbersome trying to use the right stick to center the cursor precisely on the edges of the paper, and if you have multiple paper edges lined up right next to each other, it can sometimes grab one that you don’t mean to. You can easily sidestep this, however, by just using touch controls for a much more intuitive experience, but this then limits you to playing exclusively in handheld mode. Still, it hardly hampers the experience — more of a minor annoyance than a major inconvenience.


Paper Trail is one of the finest puzzle games you can buy for the Switch right now. The storybook narrative, compelling visuals, and cleverly designed conundrums, all come together to make for a chill and enjoyable experience that you shouldn't miss, and you'd do well to keep an eye on what Newfangled Games does next. We’d give this one a high recommendation to anyone looking for a low-stakes yet sufficiently challenging new addition to their puzzle library.