Paradise Killer – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Metroidvania
Developer: Kaizen Game Works
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

Paradise Killer – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great characters, music and design
Bad: Imprecise map
User Score
9.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

What if we took Ace Attorney, opened the world and gave it a vaporwave aesthetic? That question is what best describes Paradise Killer. Filled with quirky characters, mass sacrifices and bright colors, Paradise Killer is definitely a very unique game with an oh-so-familiar feel to it.

Story

Paradise Killer’s story revolves around a mass murder and an investigator tasked with discovering what happened. But it’s not as simple as that, there is a lot to explain beforehand. One of these things is that most characters in the game belong to the Syndicate, a group of immortals who worship alien gods.

All members of the Syndicate inhabit an alternate reality of carefully crafted islands, where they attempt to bring back their gods. To do so, they require mass sacrifices, which they achieve through abductions in the real world. There is a problem though; these sacrifices attract cosmic demons to the islands, forcing the Syndicate to vacate them after a while.

Luckily for them, the upcoming island in the sequence, number 25, was supposed to be the perfect one. Sadly, things didn’t go as planned as the victims of this mass murder were the Council, leaders of the Syndicate. Their deaths promptly stopped the move onto the next island and started a lockdown. Lady Love Dies, the player character, is called in to investigate.

After millennia exiled, Lady Love Dies has been brought back by the Judge, who has tasked her to unravel the truth. Despite the mystery appearing simple, a man possessed by a cosmic demon has been found with the blood of the Council and a knife and things don’t add up. How could a simple man, just an abducted Citizen, manage to breach the security and murder the leaders of the Syndicate? To find the truth, players will have to interact with the cast of characters, piecing information from all of them.

These characters are all well rounded and have developed personalities, making them work very well. None are what they seem at plain sight and all of them feel alive, which is one of the greatest strengths of the game. Building believable characters, despite how unbelievable other aspects may be, is an integral part of what makes it immersive.

Graphics

As previously mentioned, Paradise Killer has what would be best described as a surrealistic vaporwave aesthetic. Both the 3D world and the 2D characters use bright neon colors that draw the eye’s attention. This stands especially true for the more sumptuous buildings that can be found around the world.

The contrast between the world and the characters is quite uncanny but works surprisingly well. The less detailed environments only reinforce the character’s styles. As usual with these kinds of games, the character models stand in place during conversations, with several varied images for their moods. These images have a surprisingly wide range of emotions with space for some absurdity, which only helps develop the characters.

Sound

Paradise Killer’s sound is amazingly covered by a fantastic soundtrack and great SFX. Said soundtrack follows the same vaporwave style as the graphics, a match made in heaven. The way they complement each other perfectly contributes much to the atmosphere of the game. The SFX are also pretty good and although they definitely take second place compared to the soundtrack itself, they do their work well.

There is also some amount of voice acting in the game, although it’s by no means a complete VA. Whenever the player is having a conversation with a character, some of the lines will be voiced, although some times with different wording. Other times it will be just a default phrase regardless of what the text may state. This doesn’t become much of a problem, although it may be annoying for some.

Gameplay

As one may have guessed from reading the Story and Introduction sections, Paradise Killer is an investigation game a la Ace Attorney. The main difference is how it handles building a case and the freedom of movement to find clues.

After a brief introduction and catch up for Lady Love Dies, the players are thrust into the game to investigate by themselves. Accompanied by the computer Starlight, they will find clues and take notes about the cast and events surrounding the murder. By exploring the island, clues can also be found, which will also be registered by Starlight, streamlining the process.

With the information obtained from exploring and talking to characters, players can go back and obtain more information from other characters or places. The game is not limited to a single interaction per character, instead, encouraging going back with the prospect of finding out new things. This is also done by allowing Lady Love Dies to have personal conversations which each of the members of the cast, which will then improve their relationships and sometimes lead them to confide information.

Besides clues, there are more things to find in the world, such as Relics and Blood Crystals. At first, they are little more than collectible trinkets, with a few having uses here and there, while the latter are used as currency. Seemingly limited, these blood crystals allow players to use the commodities on the island, such as the fast travel system or the vending machines. They also allow purchasing information from Crimson Acid, the secret vendor.

What should be mentioned about how the questioning sections work is that they are often similar; Lady Love Dies will ask for an alibi and a possible reason, with a pair of lines to choose from in each case. This also applies when asking anything else, only a pair of options will appear for the player to choose from, which at times can be a tad underwhelming. Luckily enough, they are still well-written and the interactions are quite fun to read.

Without spoiling anything, it can also be said that the ending of the game is very well handled. With the information obtained, players can choose who they want to accuse, as long as they have enough proof for a viable case. This allows for several endings without weighing heavily on how the player goes through the game, a single playthrough can unlock everything.

Conclusion

Paradise Killer is a very well made game with a lot to offer for fans of investigation games. The characters are incredibly well made and interesting, with the same applying to sound and graphics. The gameplay loop itself, the running around parts that is, can be a tad samey, although it is compensated by the actual investigation parts.

Personal Opinion

“Paradise Killer is a whole lot of fun. I was surprised by how much I was able to be biased for and against certain characters, which shows their quality. I found myself hating certain ones such as the Grand Marshal or Yuri Night with their smug, pedantic attitude but loving Shinji and Doctor Doom Jazz and their easy-going personalities. The soundtrack was also definitely a highlight, I even found out Rock Paper Shotgun’s Ed Thorn calling it the “Sound of the summer” in one of his articles. For those interested, it can be purchased and listened to independently here: https://kaizengameworks.bandcamp.com/album/paradise-killer-original-soundtrack

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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Paradise Killer - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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