It’s some time in the distant future, and you have been exiled to a lone island because you were tricked by a god. This god wanted to destroy the people you work with and take down the establishment from the inside. Exile, though harsh, was to be expected. While you sit on your own for eternity, life carries on for the syndicate, and the people who live on the islands. All that they want is to live the perfect life, where demons leave them alone, and everyone is happy. How does the syndicate make this happen? If anything goes wrong, they start again, and wipe the island clean. They learn from their errors, and on attempt 24 perfection is almost achieved, but the demons have other plans, and run amuck. The council gathers, and try again, a 25th attempt will solve the problem, but the crime to end all crimes is committed, and the council are all murdered.
This is the backbone for my latest review title Paradise Killer. It’s a weird and wonderful open world detective adventure that has been developed by Kaizen Game Works and published by Fellow Traveller. This vibrant and stylistic world is bold, brash, and in your face. You take control of the only investigator left alive, Lady Love Dies (try saying that after a few beers). The characters you interact with constantly refer to our protagonist as a “freak” and hold a grudge about the error that kept her locked away in solitary confinement for many a year. You must overcome this negativity and question everyone, you are expected to gather clues, and uncover secrets to highlight who’s guilty of the heinous crime that has stopped the new island from being created.
When you first jump into this colourful world, it can be a little overwhelming. You are given a basic introduction to what you need to do, and what is expected of you, but after that you are free to come and go as you like. I spent my opening few hours wandering around the cities and the wilderness, trying to become accustom to my new surroundings. I couldn’t decide if I had made an error agreeing to play the game, as it played out slowly, and I wanted some guidance on how to proceed. None of this came, and I jumped into the role of lead detective both feet first, and it was at this point that the true purpose of the game came to life. I had free rein to question and accuse anyone and everyone I could interact with, I could be miss nice cop, or a bad ass angry cop who wouldn’t take no for an answer. As you gather evidence, and hear everyone’s contradictory statements, and alibi’s you form a picture of who you believe is guilty. After all, this murder can’t be down to the obvious candidate. That would make things too simple, and that didn’t sit right with me.
As I’ve mentioned, you may go where ever you wish, as long as the path is unlocked, or guards don’t block you. You can walk from one area to another, talking to anyone en route, and gathering clues. By doing this, you will be given further information, which then requires you to readdress the people you have already spoken to. You turn around and jog back, speak to the accused, and then run to another part of the map. Walking, walking, and more walking. You end up walking an awful lot, and this got to be tedious after a while, “Surely, there is some way to fast travel around the map?” I hear you ask. There is, but you must unlock payphones to do this, and that can only be achieved with the limited resource known as “Blood Crystals”. Collect these by searching ruins, bushes, and everywhere that you can reach. They are difficult to come by, so I recommend that you don’t make it rain “Blood Crystals”, instead use them sensibly, and only when necessary.
You may think, “This sounds mundane and soul destroying.” It would be, if the characters you interacted with weren’t so interesting, and the world that this game is set in wasn’t so over the top, and fun to explore. Each of the interactive NPCs had their own backstory and personality. Their reaction to your line of questioning adds concern, or suspicion, and the web of deceit becomes more intertwined and in-depth the further you probe. The game felt alive and responsive to how I guided the story. Everything was fluid, and the plot could twist and turn at any point. My understanding of who I blamed for the crime changed several times. It will push you to the limits of your investigatory skills, and will leave you reasoning with yourself about whether you have made the right decision.
Your investigation isn’t solely reliant on just questioning of the seedy locals, you also happen across terminals known as “Nightmare Computers”. These terminals add a fun, tricky puzzle element that gives you a break away from talking with the NPCs. You piece together parts of an image, once completed you will be shown; secrets or clues that will help you move your search forward.
The setting for this is an odd mix of a futuristic earth, and the 1980s. Massive buildings and alien technology help form the landscape, but the fashion on island 24 is a little dated. Shoulder pads and massive collars are all the rage, and garish colours that will turn your stomach. NPCs have a distinct Paper Mario 2D nature to them, but the art style reminded me of the comic book approach from the Borderlands franchise. It was an eclectic mix that shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did. There were moments when details didn’t render in correctly, and some imagery was rough to look at, but mostly, it was a stylistic thing of beauty.
The upbeat music really helps to set the scene, and though futuristic with its tones, it had an 80s synthesised theme. As I explored the world around me the music added suspense and filled the low moments when travelling from place to place. The icing on the cake was the enthusiastic, and often over the top limited bits of voice-over work during the text dialogue. The developers did well to show each person’s character, both in the written form, but also in the spoken narrative that was provided.
I’m always keen that a PC title allows the use of a controller. I know, the purists will tell me to play on a console, and the mouse and keyboard are much more accurate, but I like what I like. Paradise Killer allows for both controller and M&K, so you are free to select which works for you. I found no issues with either, and both were equally responsive and easy to use.
You are given the ability to decide the outcome of the game for yourself. This means that there is no definitive ending, and whether you are right or wrong with whom you point the finger of blame at, the decision will be final. As a casual gamer, I accepted that I would be required to play it several times to see the full picture, and no doubt, I would jump to a different, and possibly “wrong” conclusion once again. Though this makes it a nightmare for hardcore gamers, and completionists alike, it makes for a game that has an extremely high replay value. You have the potential for hours of investigatory fun, if you can overcome the miles of walking, and slow nature of the gameplay for the nth time.
I could have put this game to bed very early by not giving it a chance, but I’m glad that I didn’t. It has its drawbacks, yet these soon fade into insignificance when you lose yourself in this; crazy, futuristic, 1980s inspired world. The locals, or as I like to call them, murder suspects, will make you cringe, laugh, and shout out loud. You are in control of your own destiny, and you act as judge, jury, and executioner. Do I recommend that you play this? Absolutely, it really is a must play game. Can you ask the right questions and piece together the facts? Are you able to see through the web of lies to come to the right conclusion? Does it really matter who you accuse, after all, they are all probably guilty of doing something wrong.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Paradise Killer Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
An open world detective adventure where your decision is final, will you get it right or wrong? Only time and questioning will tell.
- Fantastic visual presentation.
- Vibrant characters.
- Voice-over work and audio work well.
- Plenty of replay value.
- Far too much walking.
- The gameplay can be quite slow at times.