MURDER SHE WROTE
Adventurous Visual Novel; an apt descriptor for Paradise Killer. Half the game is comprised of exploring the island. The other half is spent speaking to the inhabitants. It’s a title that‘s oozing with 90’s charm, from the over-the-top character designs to their eccentric fashion. Even the computers around the island operate on dial tone. This is a murder mystery that you’ll need to solve. Just remember, fact and truth are often not related. Despite what you may think, some deeper understanding might be required. As you gather clues and formulate all possible outcomes, what‘ll your truth be?
An intriguing tale to be assured, but is it worth the effort to investigate?
WELCOME TO PARADISE!
Our story begins on an island called Paradise. It was created to worship alien Gods that have since passed. Led by Leader Monserrat, the inhabitants would sacrifice civilians. It was their belief that doing so would resurrect the dead deities. However, those rituals would also bring demonic corruption. As a result of this, the land imploded. Paradise would no longer be viable with such a presence. And so, destruction was the only solution. A brand new iteration of the island replaced it, but as failures mounted, so too did the rebuild cycle. Correctly known as “Sequences”, it repeated itself, over and over until perfection was within reach.
It was during the 13th cycle that a woman named Lady Love Dies would be tricked by a God. A God known as Dead Harmony. Her gullibility caused havoc. As punishment, she was exiled to the Idle Lands to live her days in isolation. Because it was separate from the island itself, it was immune to the cycles. She was able to watch as the sequences cycled over and over. That is until the 24th iteration. She awoke that morning feeling odd. It hadn’t disappeared because she was still alive. As the next was touted as the perfect version, she’d not be welcomed. Therefore, her existence would be deleted. Curious, she walked to the door of her room. There waiting was a demon named Shinji. She’s then notified of a murder that’s taken place. It’s also why the switch to the perfect Paradise has been stalled. The suspect; a human possessed by the very thing they wanted to be eradicated.
INTRODUCING LADY LOVE DIES!
To say the names in Paradise Killer are unique is an underselling it. While you have a Henry and a Yuri, there’s also One Last Kiss or who you’ll be controlling; Lady Love Dies. There’s Witness to the End, as well as Crimson Acid; a female’s body with the head of a goat. I loved the diversity between everyone. It went a long way to differentiate them. They all had that unique identity.
Oh and I’ll admit too, I was prepared to dig at the dialogue. When I first began interrogating the suspects, they’d respond with coyness. It frustrated me. It wasn’t until the actual trial that it clicked; I’m dumb. These individuals are being probed for a crime. Or as Paradise Killer puts it ‘the crime to end all crimes’. The Council that oversees each Sequence had been murdered. Because I was summoned and then appointed investigator, no one’ll answer me. Even if they had, the replies were snippy and sometimes included an insult. This went far to immerse me. I felt like I was in the shoes of my girl. It really engaged me and I adored that.
Unfortunately, it was the mystery, and seeing it through that intrigued me. I didn’t find myself caring about some characters. I will, however, say that Kaizen Game Works did a fantastic job in making you hate a few. I might’ve got angry at times. Their aggressiveness or snobby demeanor just rubbed me wrong. And I did sympathize with both Lydia and Sammy Day Break. They’re a married couple and former assassins. Hearing their story was enough to allow me to connect. So much so that when given the choice, I’d chose against accusing either of them.
The actual climax of the plot will be – as noted in the first few minutes – the trials. Can I just say I adored it all and move on?
Likely not, so I’ll detail it out. To reference my immersion comment; it applies here too. The reactions of those I did accuse felt authentic. They lashed out in desperation. In order to divert the spotlight away, they might even sell out another. Or in instances where they’d have nothing to lose, gloves were off. They’d confess to everything, throwing any outsiders that helped under the bus. It was chaotic and my writing doesn’t do it justice. It’s that good, and I’m that awful at literacy.
Now, because this was a big complaint in my Buried Stars review, I want to touch on it. Yes, Paradise Killer has you questioning everyone over the same piece of evidence. However, in its defense, it never dragged on about it. If a character being questioned didn’t have something worthwhile to say, they dismiss you. As I‘ve already eluded to, they played coy. This is the biggest difference and why I do favor the way it is done here.
My final piece of praise is just how well it ties together. Even revelations still far from being discovered are foreshadowed. These usually take the form of an item acquired through a side quest. Though, I should mention these aren’t plentiful. And they do well in fleshing out the lore. If I recall, I believe it’s about 3, give or take. So, it won’t ever be difficult to complete. Although, this will become part of my biggest gripe.
I very much enjoyed the writing. A lot of attention was poured into the details. I can’t, unfortunately, say the same for the movement. To be blunt, it was tedious. Quite possibly the worst aspect of Paradise Killers. I didn’t even think the actual walking was arduous. You can parkour across gaps. What bothered me was the map; it’s horrid. Instead of illustrating the varying paths that you can venture down, it’ll show a flat image. On it will be several squares that represent locations. The issue was attempting to navigate it. I never knew what direction lead to where. I had no option but to walk aimlessly and hope I’d end up at my destination. I feel a makeover is needed. Thankfully, fast travel is available. Too bad it’s not exactly the greatest either.
Controls were responsive but there is an old-school flair added. I played on Switch and to jump forward, you need to hold the joystick in that direction before pressing the R button. Yes, it is the R button. Sprinting is the L button. My advice here is to go to the options menu. You’ll be able to change having to hold to sprint to a simple tap. It makes it a lot more comfortable for those of us with big hands.
Thankfully, the music here is fantastic. It has a tropical feel to fit the island aesthetic. With a few tracks having a tinge of classical music. It has to be said that you’ll need to actually find these tracks hidden throughout. Think of them as collectibles. It’s honestly worth tracking all of them down too. Speaking of, there are jewels hidden throughout. These unlock doors that will reveal another type of collectible; Relics. Of course, these are annoying to try and find. Again, I feel if the map was revamped, it could have helped.
Scattered across the island is a currency called Blood Crystals. These will be used to purchase drinks, information, and to fast travel. Yup, it costs resources. To find these, you’ll need to explore the island. Even then, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll locate a lot if any of them. Couple that with the above and it’ll break down like this;
- To Fast Travel, it’ll cost you 1 each time. However, before this will even become usable, you must first activate the phone that’ll act as the station. That‘ll also run you 1 crystal.
- Information is vital to purchase in this game. These act as testimony that‘ll be used to prosecute an individual. To me, I prioritized these over anything else. They will cost between 1 and 3.
- Acquiring drinks from vending machines isn’t important at first. Eventually, that’ll change. You’ll receive a call that will tell you of an upgrade for your tiny laptop – StarLight. In order to get it, it’ll ask you to keep buying. Again, this will cost you only 1.
AND THE KILLER VERDICT IS…
Paradise Killer can stand among the greatest narratives without crumbling. The story had so many twists and turns. Even the sub-plots interweaved effortlessly and blended with the overarching take. For me, the mark of great literature is one that can keep me guessing. I found that here. Each new piece of evidence provided a new possible suspect. However, it fails to translate that recipe for success to the map system. That plummets down a cliff in terms of usability.
While I wish fast traveling wasn’t useless and the map system didn’t suck, I still recommend this game. There’s just a few things that hold it back. Regardless, I say that;
PARADISE KILLER IS RECOMMENDED!
Many thanks go to Fellow Traveller for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.