Paradox Soul embraces the Metroidvania genre to bring players a fresh challenge to their Vita systems. Considering the genre is named after two hall of fame games, it takes a lot to impress gamers, especially in 2020. Will this be a must-have game on the Vita, or another miss that gets buried under the deluge of indie games?
The game developers say from the start that Paradox Soul is not here to hold the player’s hand and is meant to be a hard experience. That is not the case, but there are no complaints. The players take control of the protagonist as she finds her way to a laboratory somewhere in frigid, frozen Iceland. The small cut scene, introducing us to the little amount of lore, immediately gives off The Thing vibes. Once inside the death stricken bunker, the player takes the protagonist from room to room, finding power-ups and items to help secure safe passage while hoping to figure out what occurred. Power-ups are a mixed bag, however, as gun upgrades are always fun, but armor upgrades do not appear to do anything as you still lose 1 hit point after every hit.
The difficulty in the game comes from the lack of health given to survive the compound. This is counteracted by infinite lives and after death, the player is immediately spawned back at the beginning of the room, specifically the door you entered from. This can be taken in two ways. If you’re the type of player who wants the hardcore, start from the beginning experience, it won’t be found here. There are no complete do-overs. Even swiping the game closed will still allow the player to continue where they left off, even if the title screen does not actually say ‘continue’. However, if you like a bit of a challenge but not the frustration of having to restart after every simple mistake or bad beat, then the difficulty and hardship is balanced just right.
The game makes use of its pixel graphics to full, and grisly, effect. There is something about the 80s feel and vibe of pixel art that compliments the death and gore of a character blowing up, causing enemies to splatter and drip off the ceiling. It gets the visceral point across because of the simplicity and uniqueness yet is tame enough to not be gratuitous.
The music sets the mood for the game. Considering the theme is sci-fi horror, the music does not try to stand out but enhances the game’s mood. If it tried to stand out on its own then the spooky feeling would be lost. One criticism, however, is the track loops and is not the longest song to begin with. It is actually better in this case that the music tries not to stand out or else it could get annoying quickly.
Controls feel tight and responsive, which is important considering there is a lot of basic actions and gravity jumping involved to get around enemies, platforms, and bosses. Considering there are only a few actions in total, such as jump, shoot, and dodge, with a couple extra weapons unlocked through progression, it is important the few actions handle perfectly or else the player has nothing to fall back on and would want to chuck the Vita against a wall.
Much like Cybarian: The Time Travelling Warrior, also from Ratalaika Games, Paradox Soul is a trophy hunter’s dream. It takes no time and effort for an easy platinum and is another title in the list of cheap but not shameful, ‘why did I play this?’ games. If not a trophy hunter, do not expect more than a couple hours of fun before the game is put down with little reason to go back for another round unless it happens to string the right chord.
At the end of the day, Paradox Soul gives a few hours of enjoyment for the few dollars it costs on the PSN store. If you’re a fan of the genre then enjoyment can be had and it is not a bad game. The problem is Lost Paradox is not a memorable game. With little replay value, and a thin helping of lore, it does not have the gravitational pull for players to dust off a couple months later for a replay.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Paradox Soul Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 1/10
Paradox Soul is great for those looking for cheap and easy trophies, or a short-lived Metroidvania experience. However, without much lore or extras, there is little reason to continue coming back for a second or third playthrough.
- Easy trophies for trophy hunters.
- Smooth and responsive controls.
- Great pixel artwork.
- No replay value.
- Little musical variety.
- Could use more power-up variety.