“There’s been a… murder”.
Four little words that have reverberated around literature, films, TV and games for as long I can remember. Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes solving a crime, or Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the case, a good murder mystery never gets old. Now we have the game Paradise Killer coming over to console after its critical success from Nintendo Switch and PC.
This murder mystery – instead of taking place in some rich mansion or the back alleys of a rain-drenched city – is set in a strange fantasy world; one full of futuristic designs and strange new laws. Get your magnifying glass and your notebook at the ready as we enter the world of Paradise Killer.
The story of Paradise Killer is one that you will either completely buy into, loving the world and all the characters that occupy it, or – because of the high fantasy and strangeness of the world – be left cold, unconnected to the story. I think I fell in between these two statements, appreciative of the originality and crafting, but confused in moments.
So here is the story, and please bear with me as I try to explain it. ‘Paradise’ is an island that regenerates itself every few thousand years or so. The power of the island regenerates gods and beings as well, but also attracts demons which eventually destroy Paradise itself. So the council regenerates the island and it all begins again. This time however on the 25th reinterpretation of the Island the council has been murdered and the very sense of existence is brought into danger. You play ‘investigation freak” Lady Love Dies from her exile of three million days, as she goes out there to solve the crime. It’s up to you to navigate across the island in a nonlinear way and build up the investigation through clues and chat to work out who is behind this heinous crime.
The gameplay is a mixture of a visual novel and some first-person adventuring. After you have initially spent time chatting to the Judge character in the justice hall it’s up to you where you go and how you lead the investigation. You can go wherever you want and talk to whomever you need to. At first, this amount of choice can be a bit overwhelming, but when you get into the groove it can be very exciting, like a proper detective story where you build evidence and follow leads, working you way around the island.
Paradise Killer requires a lot of grunt work in exploring the island and talking to people, entities, and machines along the way. There are these items you can collect – called blood crystals – which work as a sort of currency. Save points are manual, stumbling upon them through the adventure, whilst fast travel costs blood crystals. I’ve found this to be a bit annoying throughout, especially when you run out of crystals.
The journey itself is a fascinating delve into high fantasy, with a world which is clever and beautifully crafted. You can’t help but walk around this world with a smile on your face and a glint in your eye. The actual case you are trying to solve involves some puzzle-solving and a lot of collecting information and following up of clues. I wanted to learn everything I could before making a call about the truth. Characters will have alibis that can be disproved by collecting clues or more dialogue from other characters. It’s complex and a lot of fun to try and solve.
The visuals of the game are fantastic. The mixing of visual novel styled comic book cutscenes with open-world gameplay works brilliantly. Just exploring the island with its shiny colour schemes and wondrous game design is a pleasure. The whole soundtrack and voice-over work feel like something ripped from the ’90s and the halcyon days of SEGA. Snippets of dialogue are voiced, rather than the whole sentences and the soundtrack is a nicely designed homage to games of that time. You can even pick up extra tracks on your travels to add to your ever-growing music library.
Paradise Killer is an extraordinary piece of work; one that the developers have made highly unique, while paying homage to games from years gone by. It’s a great detective game, set free to explore a fascinating world with intriguing characters and great locations. I do fear that some people might find it too overwhelming and the save points and fast travel currency system is frustrating; not needed in my opinion. But overall this is a great journey into a strange creative world, as you go about hunting down the Paradise Killer.
Paradise Killer is on the Xbox Store