Paradise Lost is a first person walking sim. You play as a young boy named Szymon, in post-apocalyptic Germany or Poland. It is nuclear winter, and has been for some time, because Germany decided in their infinite wisdom to nuke themselves to prevent the Allies from… winning? Kind of hard to say “you didn’t win, I killed myself HA” cause… well, they still won. Anyways that was Germany’s plan if the allies got onto their soil they’d nuke the ever loving shit out of themselves and put a lot of people into bunkers that way their land would still be theirs after all no one would take over nuked land it’s unlivable, and the plan was for the people to develop new weapons so that when they could exit the bunkers they could take over and kill off any of the allies who were left. I talk about all of this because almost the entirety of the game is set inside a, and let me be nice about it, bitch-ass Nazi bunker. Szymon’s mother has given up the ghost and she told him about a picture he found of her and a man, they were inside the Nazi bunker together, so off goes Szymon to the bunker to find what he assumes is his father.
Now lots of the game is just walking, finding notes that you can read to understand the lives of the people forced into these bunkers, bits of backstory, you know the good stuff to read. However as you continue the game, you read some pretty fucking horrific shit, like seriously, seriously horrific shit is alluded to. This being said, you do get to solve some puzzles throughout the game as well, and you aren’t just doing it solo, well you play the game solo as it’s a single player game, but you get an ally in the game. Soon after entering the bunker you see cameras watching you and eventually meet a young girl named Ewa who is locked in a control room somewhere in the bunker. She talks with you about things as you try to find her, she even helps with puzzles, and you can find audio files and read computers and she’ll react to what she hears and sees through the cameras. She ends up feeling fairly real and as you continue the game you can either brighten her disposition towards you or make her kind of hate you, giving you a lot of personalization. She’s a really fun character.
The puzzles are pretty simple, usually you’re told ‘hey you need X to open this door’ then you just have to look around and find the object. The hardest puzzle is when you have to find two different items in a cafe, a rag and a bottle of something in order to clean off a camera lens, the camera, and both items are in the same store a stone’s throw from each other. As you search for the girl you find more information about the world, her, the man you think is your father, what happened to the bunker, and even your mother. But there’s not a lot of gameplay beyond just reading notes, checking tape recordings, and these rare super simple puzzles.
Where this game really shines is the story and backstory. It’s… it’s overwhelmingly not a happy game mind you as most of your emotions will be one of the following: “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”, “Oh my God.”, “These people are fucking sick.”, “Those poor people.”, “That’s really fucked up.”, “I want to kill all these fuckers” (even tough they’ve nuked themselves out of existence, that changes nothing). It sometimes has cute moments, but a lot of what you read just further shows how horrible humanity is, not just the Nazis of the game but the survivors and scientists in general on top of that. The entirety of the cuteness comes from some of the dialogue between Ewa and Szymon, but that emotion is rather fleeting and rare. As many negative emotions as the game will provide you towards everyone around that isn’t Ewa or Szymon, it’s also very gripping, and there’s plenty of twists and turns within their personal story no less.
Overall, I… I’m torn, the disgusting problematic stuff in it that gave me negative emotions weren’t usually pleasant, after all these are Nazis and they’re fucking horrible individuals, however the story is, as a whole, really good. It’s hard to separate the two emotions though as the world feeling lived in is important, but it was ‘lived in’ by just some of the absolute worst scum sucking fucks that existed in real life and video games. The concept that the story is gripping to me is more important than making me feel good, so the story is ‘good’ in that way even though there were a lot of story bits I read that pissed me off, disgusted me, or made me wanna cry a bit. I like walking sims, if you don’t you won’t like this period. Otherwise I think the story is gripping enough to suggest it.
A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher ALL iN! GAMES.
darkmikasonfire awards Paradise Lost the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.