This is a Public Service Announcement. Paradise Killer is beyond brilliant. I’ve just wrapped up this Switch detective mystery, and now I’m desperate to sing its praises.
You play investigator Lady Day Break (stage names are very much part of the deal here), who’s been summoned from exile to solve the murder of the council, aka the group of people in charge of the island of Paradise. And away you go. Go on, go!
I really do mean that. There’s little handholding here, just an island to walk around in first-person along with hundreds of clues to uncover and a cast of outlandish characters to interview, accuse and possibly convict.
Some help is at hand, including a trusty computer that provides an AR mode which overlays the position of suspects in your field of view. The computer can also analyse evidence and hack into terminals across the island.
Sometimes I get frustrated by a lack of introduction and explanation in games, but Paradise Killer handles all this stuff brilliantly. There are loads of clues and titbits to uncover as you walk around, so even if you’re not directly working on the case, you never feel like you’re wasting your time. In fact, just drinking in the atmosphere, pottering around listening to the awesome soundtrack is a joy in itself. Every nook has something interesting and the art direction is fascinating, colourful and stylish.
Here’s the thing; the mystery isn’t who killed the council. It’s discovering the rules and lore of this island and this beautifully imaged world that’s been created. There’s layers of detail about this world and its gods and demons, blood rituals, and sacrifices that I’m absolutely not going to spoil.
Once you think you’ve collected enough evidence, off you go back to the Judge to put your case together. Were you right? Who knows. Did you investigate enough? Are YOU happy with the outcome? Did you do everything you could?
There are some faults, but they’re boring and you can discover them for yourself. I don’t want to talk about them. Instead, I want to talk about how damn stylish everything is – the UI on this game, made by a tiny team, is gorgeous and imaginative. It expresses character in every way it can, from the screens you see when you pick up objects to the way it places its collectables.
I want to talk about how it makes you care about over-the top-characters, including an immortal doctor with robotic arms and a skeleton bartender. Somehow, they feel like real people; people with real lives and real history and love and regret and secrets.
I want to do all of the above without really discussing the script because I don’t want to ruin it.
Paradise Killer is superb and really needs to be experienced. It’s something that could only exist in video game form – a celebration of the medium and its unique ability to let to soak and marinate in the atmosphere. It’s a masterclass in keeping the plot but giving the players the narrative. I am completely enamoured with this game.
If you have both 10-15 hours and £20 to spare, I can’t recommend this enough.