Sunday, January 17, 2021

REVIEW: Paradise Killer (game)

Paradise Killer is an open world sci-fi murder mystery game with slight visual novel elements.


You play as Lady Love Dies (LLD), an immortal investigator who was exiled a million days ago due to an incident involving a god. LLD is brought out of exile in order to investigate a heinous crime, the brutal murder of the entire Council just prior to the destruction of corrupt island 24 and the move to "Perfect 25." There is one obvious suspect, a Civilian named Henry Division who is known to be possessed by a demon and who was found at the crime scene with a belly full of the Council's blood. Was he the killer or was he framed for a crime he didn't commit? You decide, as you explore island 24, looking for clues and talking to the Syndicate members who have been forced to stay there until a trial has been conducted and the investigation has been declared complete.

You are aided in your investigation by your trusty Starlight computer, which sorts any evidence you find according to whichever suspect and crime it applies, and which can also (after some upgrades) crack other computers on the island.

I was initially intrigued by this game, but also hesitant. The idea of an open world mystery in which you could accuse anyone at any time (or so the game was advertised) appealed to me. But it also looked more than a bit weird, and I don't have a great track record with first-person games - they have a tendency of making me nauseous, and changing the display settings doesn't always help. I decided to give it a shot, though, and figured that if I couldn't solve the nausea problem to my satisfaction after a couple hours of playing, I could always return the game (Steam's return policies are useful for this sort of thing).

I did manage to get the game to the point where I could play without nausea, as long as I wore my glasses, and the exploration aspects, mystery, world, and characters eventually hooked me, although it took a few hours for my feelings to turn from "this is okay" to "I love it and want a sequel."

A few things I wish I'd known from the start: Blood Crystals are a finite resource you find as you explore the island, so you're going to be tempted to use them as little as possible, but it's worth using them on the foot baths, vending machine drinks, and other services and items that initially seem useless. Yes, I know the foot baths are expensive, but trust me on this, you should use them. Also, you cannot die - feel free to jump off a building if that seems like it'd be the quickest way to get to where you'd like to go. At worst, falling into deep blue water will send you to what I think is the nearest Save point.

Speaking of saving, this is one of the few aspects of the game that I disliked. There is no autosaving - you have to find a phone and save your game there. There are lots of phones and they're easy to find (they make a particular sound when you're near them, and the same game feature that allows you to see how far away the Syndicate members are also makes nearby phones stand out more), but after a while I just wanted to focus on finding evidence and found that it was easy to forget to save periodically.

Also, I loathed that using fast travel cost Blood Crystals. I didn't mind paying one Blood Crystal to activate fast travel points, but having to pay yet another Blood Crystal to use it was annoying and only encouraged me to avoid fast travel. I knew I'd need Blood Crystals in order to collect evidence (you have to pay Crimson Acid for all or most of her testimony, for example), and I didn't know how many other things I'd need to buy that I wouldn't be able to obtain any other way, so using Blood Crystals on fast travel seemed like both a waste and a potential mistake. More info I wish I'd known (although I probably would still have hoarded Blood Crystals): you can pay for literally every item, service, and scrap of information in the game, unlock every fast travel point, and have enough Blood Crystals leftover to fast travel over 50 times. I still think it would have been kinder to players if the developers had made fast travel free.

Back to the way the game was advertised: while it's true that you can accuse anyone of the Council's murder (and various other crimes, if you've unlocked them) at any time, you can only conduct the trial once, and your accusation probably won't stick if you don't have the right evidence. It's worthwhile to scour the island for every lead and bit of evidence Starlight points you towards, so that you uncover all layers of the Council's murder and have enough evidence to give various accusations a true chance.

So far, I've only conducted one trial. I felt very confident about one set of accusations and the conspiracy I felt the characters were involved in - I definitely felt like there was a "true" solution to the mystery. However, there was an additional conspiracy that the game seemed to be pointing players towards that didn't come together quite so well - the evidence wasn't as good, and it wasn't as believable. And yet, I couldn't come up with another explanation for why certain events happened the way they did. I plan on replaying the trial a few more times, to see if I can come up with a more satisfying and "true" feeling ending, but it did make me feel like there was something I might be missing.

The game's visual novel aspects are very light - you get dialogue choices as you talk to the various suspects, but I never got the feeling that your choices would affect the evidence much, if at all. You could befriend the characters, and you even had the option to sleep with a couple of them (one male and one female - sleeping with one had zero effect on your ability to sleep with the other, and both "sleep with them" options were fade-to-black even with the game's Mature content turned on, unless Steam was censoring things and I didn't realize it), but none of this seemed to have an affect on the game as a whole. The "friendship meter" aspect of the game seemed primarily geared towards getting players to be emotionally invested in the characters, so I suppose it worked in that respect, at least for me.

Overall, I highly recommend this to mystery fans. The fast travel limitations are extremely annoying and you'll probably find yourself running around the same locations multiple times, but at least there are unlockable abilities that can help with some of that. I wish the game had made more use of certain features (the gifts the characters give you after you fully befriend them are nice enough but seem to have no purpose, for example), but that doesn't stop me from desperately wanting a sequel. There's certainly room for one. Even a sequel won't give me what I really want, though. Favorite characters I wish I could have saved: Shinji and Henry Division. ::sigh::

No comments:

Post a Comment