Forget about Retina displays, four-inch screens iPhone screens, and faster graphics processors. To enjoy Papa Sangre II, all you need is a basic iOS device, a great pair of headphones, and an active imagination. Then you can sit back and let Sean Bean be your guide through this eerie and fascinating land of the dead.
Papa Sangre II is an audio-based adventure game that requires very little use of your device’s onscreen display. Apart from the menus and four buttons in the corners, you’ll hardly have to look down at your device at all. In fact, the game encourages you to close your eyes for the full experience. The world of Papa Sangre isn’t rendered through Unity or Unreal game engine graphics– instead, it’s created entirely by sound effects, music, and narration.
Through 22 levels, you have to listen carefully to a distant sound, then position yourself using your device’s gyroscope controls. Tapping on the lower corners will move your feet, one step at a time, moving you closer to the sound. Occasionally, you will have to use the hand icons in the top corners to break glass, fire an air rifle, or clap your hands to draw or repel monsters.
With these simple controls and Papa Sangre II’s outstanding audio design, you’ll be able to navigate an unsettling dream world with no parallel on the App Store. Distinguished actor Sean Bean (who has starred in Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Silent Hill) plays the narrator. He directs you to plunder Papa Sangre’s museum of memories, in order to bring your character back to life. Later in the game, you’ll enter these memories yourself, reliving the last moments of doomed souls through a variety of intriguing scenarios.
In a marked improvement over the original game, in Papa Sangre II you will have several different tasks to complete. You’ll have to sneak around a museum, avoiding “mind lice” who make a disgusting scurrying sound when you’re nearby. You’ll also have to follow a yowling cat out of a burning building, fire at monster ducks in a boardwalk shooting gallery, and run from a polar bear chasing you over thin and cracking ice.
In each scene, the sound effects immerse you completely, adding new obstacles and revealing more of the story. You often have to listen for a brief musical note or animal sound, position yourself accordingly, and tap on the screen to walk forward while avoiding monsters and traps. When you stand too close to a burning wall or bubbling pit, your other senses kick in, and you can imagine smelling your singed eyebrows or feeling the splash of acid on your skin. It’s a perfectly immersive illusion.
Papa Sangre II is a completely unique App Store experience, and it feels far more complete than the original game. You can replay levels to obtain unique achievements, but it’s hard to match the feeling you’ll receive when discovering this imaginary world for the first time. Sean Bean’s narration is expertly delivered, and it is a comfort to hear a familiar voice guiding you through such strange, otherworldly scenes.
If you want to lose yourself in a virtual world, and then find your way out again using only your ears, you must try Papa Sangre II. It’s not meant to be played when you’re in a crowded bus or waiting room, but if you place yourself in a private, quiet environment, that just makes Papa Sangre II feel even more captivating.