Paratopic – Review
Follow Genre: story-driven walking sim, horror, adventure
Developer: Arbitrary Metric
Publisher: Arbitrary Metric, Baltoro Games
Platform: Switch, Windows, Linux, MacOS
Tested on: Switch

Paratopic – Review

Site Score
6.9
Good: Good: easy controls, intriguing story(telling), sound
Bad: Bad: no (manual) saves, poor text design
User Score
6.4
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.4/10 (5 votes cast)

Go through a cursed feverish dream with Paratopic, an experimental first-person horror walking sim. Journey into the grimy low polygon scenes and unravel how the stories of three separate characters intersect in under just an hour. The game is not so much a game as it is an experience than lingers well after you finished.

Story

Paratopic tells three stories that are experienced through different scenes. These are brought by hard cuts that divide each storyline and spread it out over the course of the game. One minute you are driving your car deep into the night and then suddenly you’re birdwatching in the countryside. You jump around from scene to scene and switch through each story regularly and quite suddenly. Especially because each scene is fairly long. The cuts are so sudden and seem at times so out of place, disorientating the player very easily. Which makes the game as interesting as it is.

This narrative-driven horror-esque exploring game cuts between stories of three separate characters. One is a smuggler bringing mysterious VHS tapes across the border, one is a hired assassin and another is a simple birdwatcher/photographer. Not much more can be told without spoiling the game since experiencing the stories make up for the whole game. But each story is definitely odd and intriguing, to say the least. And perhaps confusing, even after a second playthrough.

Graphics

Paratopic takes players back to the PS1-era with its grimy low-poly graphics – imagine OG Tomb Raider with basic Minecraft textures. Some might find the 32-bit art style charming, some might not. It’s surely something you have to get used to. But it definitely does suit the unsettling, gloomy vibe that the game tries to give off, distinguishing Paratopic from other modern games. It’s a distinctive and major feature for Paratopic.

But because of the unclear graphics, a lot of details get lost in murky pixels. Small illustrations on posters and papers are just a smudge and reading texts on a handheld is tough. The letters are quite small, blocky, and too close together.

Sound

As mentioned before, the game gives off an unsettling, gloomy vibe and this is backed up with fitting sound effects and music which differs from scene to scene. Music with synthesizers and organs are mostly used to bring the environment to life. And if there’s little to no music, you’d be sure to be immersed in your surroundings with on-point sound effects such as the wind, footsteps, or just regular buzzing sounds.

The most interesting part of the sound in this game is the muffling of speech. The best way to describe it is as if a person is mumbling to you through a swiveling fan, with backward speech. If the peculiar graphics of the game could make sound, it would definitely sound exactly like the voice effects that are used here.

Gameplay

Paratopic feels like an experimental short-film, but interactive. You could even describe the game as a walking simulator but with a little more action. You walk around in first-person, you explore, and interact with other people or the surroundings. Discovering the story this way bit by bit. 

Since there’s not much to it, the controls aren’t that complicated, making the game suitable for a handheld. The controls are pretty basic and similar to any other game where you use your joystick for movement/camera, and the buttons for action. But don’t be deceived. Yes, the game is simple and practically a walking sim, but the player still gets to drive, crouch, run, and shoot! It’s not hard to figure out how to do these actions. Luckily, you can check out and even change the controls in the settings menu where you can edit the volume, field of view, among other things.

Every scene is different and thus, has different actions you can do. Besides the aforementioned actions, the player can also go in conversation with other characters. Even choosing how the dialogue goes by selecting your own response. Sadly, it seems more like a poor attempt to make the game more dynamic and giving the player a sense that their gameplay choices matter. The same goes for driving and exploring and interacting with the surroundings. It does not actually contribute to the gameplay and story, and it just extends the scene longer than it has to be. The game is short, but that’s okay as it does not have to get unnecessarily stretched out longer. Especially when the game is meant to play in one sitting. There are no saves.

Conclusion

Paratopic is surely more of an experience than it is a video game. It’s all about the story and what you discover or what you yourself make from it. It is confusing but very intriguing if you go into the game blindly without any knowledge beforehand. This in turn also makes a second playthrough enticing. The game is recommended to play leisurely before bed, like watching a movie or reading a book. It is a very short game, depending on how thorough you want to play it. But even though the game is short (± 45 minutes), some scenes can feel long. Since the game is quite simple, the controls are not that complex. The sound is on point and the graphic art style is a choice, you love or hate. Besides the hard-to-read text, the game is almost perfect to be played on a handheld console.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.4/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Paratopic – Review, 6.4 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
JenRox
JenRox


“Keep your friends close, but your memes even closer”.

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