The game Paradise Lost is the latest entry in the genre of walking simulators. Let me be honest here. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of games. If they can’t nail the story down, I’ll usually get bored very quickly. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them. One of my favorite games is Firewatch after all.
A World Forgotten
The emphasis of the game is the story. As a background, we are told, that the world has basically ended. World War II could not be resolved through conflict. In the end, nuclear warfare destroyed Europe and isolated it from the rest of the world.
Most of Europe today is a nuclear wasteland with no people. At the beginning of the game, you enter an abandoned Nazi bunker. You don’t even know who you are yet. The initial story is delivered through some set pieces and flashbacks.
You learn that you are a boy, Szymon who is looking for a man. He found this man in a photograph from his mother. That’s the basic premise of the story.
Where is everyone?
You will progress through the empty Nazi facility. You can pick up items and read notes or papers left behind. Through these, the story will unfold. You will slowly piece together what happened in this bunker and its occupants. It’s quite mysterious and interesting so I won’t say more than this.
Apart from reading, there are two more main storytelling options. One is audio recordings. These, you will find in almost every other game nowadays. You play them, and it will reveal a short discussion or story from the past.
The other more interesting option is through a computer. The old war facility has a supercomputer that powers the whole thing. There are some Fallout-Esque computers scattered around. At times you will come across memory tubes, that you can insert into these computers. When you do that, it will play the audio and correspondent visual recording of what happened. Although the visual party is mostly maps and console commands, you will be able to learn a lot about the fate of the bunker from these. I really loved sitting through them.
Mystery around the corner
One more spoiler: shortly after you enter the bunker, someone will call you out. The person is called Ewa and you will be able to communicate with her through microphones. She tells you that she’s somewhere in a control room and you got to get her out.
This is basically the story. You venture in, hoping to find the man from the picture. Inside you meet Ewa and together work towards finding this person. As you progress you learn the deepest secrets of the facility. I think the story is especially great and could keep me engaged throughout.
Although, it’s a good story, it’s not an overly complicated one. Once you have most of the puzzle you will expect what happens at the end of the game. I anticipated most of the twists and turns due to reading and listening to everything.
Paradise Lost uses the Unreal Engine. As such it has quite good graphics. Sure it can’t hold itself against AA titles, but the general texture work is more than enough for an indie release. The only bad part about the graphics is the animation. It looks like the dev might not be the most experienced in putting together human animation. Although, it’s definitely passable, and after the first few minutes you will get used to it, at first I thought it’s quite bad.
However, there is one particular part where the game shines. World design. Honestly, the game world looks freaking amazing. I absolutely loved the underground areas. Sometimes you will feel like you are in a warehouse, while other parts are about luxury. As the bunker was designed for long-living, there are some underground areas that function as a city.
It’s incredible what the design team could dream up and achieve. The overall aesthetic feels like an amazing mix between Half-Life and Fallout. It’s great and it propelled me to explore more.
Walk, very slowly
The main gameplay loop is very simple. You walk from one area to another. On your journey, you will encounter the already mentioned items. Some notes and audio clues scattered all around the place. At times Ewa will talk to you.
There is, however, no failure condition. Although the place definitely seems eerie you are not in danger. All through the game, you are in total control. If I am honest I would have loved some more interaction with the game world. Whether it would be more notes or more actual puzzles it would have been great.
I think this last statement is actually a good point for the devs. I didn’t necessarily want more interaction because I was bored. No, I was immersed in the world. I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to read more ‘life bits from the long lost residents.
As it stands, the game poses no difficulty. You will walk through the pace of a snail from start to finish. Luckily the story and aesthetics kept me going. After all, they are the most important factors in a walking simulator game.
One more complaint I have about the game is the length. Although it seems to be quite common in the walking simulator space that games are short. You can complete it in around 4 hours if you read and check everything. If you are going for the speedrun (not sure why would you do that though) you can probably make it half.
Paradise Lost is a good walking simulator. The game world is masterfully crafted, and the story keeps on engaging throughout. There is a lot to like here. From the cute Polish accents to the mystery of the abandoned facility you can be immersed into the game world.
Although the animations are not perfect and the main twist in the story is quite easy to guess, I think it’s still worth playing if you like the genre. Surely this game is not for everyone. If you are looking for action or quick-paced gameplay avoid this one at all cost.
- Cool Game World
- Interesting Story
- Animations are not the best
- Little short
- Would have loved more interaction with the game world
You can purchase Paradise Lost on Steam.