Check out this charming new game included in your Netflix subscription

Characters stand around a burning pile of hay in Paper Trail.
Newfangled Games

If you have a Netflix subscription, but have yet to try any of the games included with it, you’re missing out. The streaming service has quietly put together a strong library of titles over the past few years, from certified classics like Hades to strong original games like Laya’s Horizon. Next week, Netflix subscribers can get another charming indie with their subscription: Paper Trail.

Developed by Newfangled Games, Paper Trail is a top-down puzzle adventure about a girl leaving her small town behind to attend university. Her journey isn’t straightforward, though. To achieve her dream, she needs to navigate puzzling forests, proving that she has the brains to tackle the challenges awaiting her on the other side. There’s a unique twist, though: Her world is made up of paper. That gives Paper Trail a tactile gameplay hook that makes it a charming, if light, addition to Netflix’s library.

While there’s a story threaded throughout Paper Trail and lots of characters to meet, narrative isn’t exactly the draw here. The small runaway tale here feels more like a good way to set its hero on a fairy tale journey through watercolor biomes filled with papercraft puzzles. It’s a soothing aesthetic that makes for a relaxing game you can play on your phone while curled up on the couch.

A character walks on wooden planks in Paper Trail.
Newfangled Games

The real hook is Paper Trail’s hybrid puzzle-adventure gameplay, which calls back to other mobile-first titles like Where Cards Fall. Biomes are broken up into individual screens, each of which is a double-sided piece of paper. By holding two fingers down on the screen, I can see what’s on the other side of the paper level. To navigate it successfully, I use my touchscreen to grab a corner or side of the level and fold it over to try and create a new path. If I find myself standing at the end of a wide gap I can’t cross, for instance, I may find that I can actually fold the screen in half, revealing a platform on the other side that connects to the one I’m standing on.

That leads to some brain-bending puzzles that test my spatial reasoning. I always need to consider how the backside will appear when folded over. If I grab the bottom-left corner and fold it up, what will that look like? It’s a puzzle game of trial and error that encourages players to fold levels up in as many ways as they can think of to find creative solutions. And that system gets even more clever later on when it introduces interactive elements like rotating platforms and moving tiles that build on the core folding formula.

A character navigates a puzzle in Paper Trail.
Newfangled Games

While it all has a laid-back aesthetic, Paper Trail can be surprisingly tough to crack at times. Though I’m a seasoned puzzle game veteran, I often found myself struggling to figure out solutions — even with a hint system that shows the proper fold sequence. Deceptively simple solutions can become needlessly complicated if you’re not properly locked in to the level’s logic. I imagine it might be a tougher game for casual Netflix subscribers compared to something like Netflix’s Lucky Luna.

Even if that mental challenge sounds like it could be daunting, Paper Trail is worth checking out if you have a Netflix subscription (it’s also launching on all major platforms, but it feels best suited to a mobile touchscreen). It’s a good-natured puzzle game with a playful gameplay core that’s satisfying to toy with, even if its story doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Don’t let your Netflix games sit around unplayed.

Paper Trail launches on May 21 for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile devices via Netflix.

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