Paradise Killer Review
You are Lady Love Dies. Exiled for over 8,000 years (three million days, as the game puts it) for almost bringing total ruin to Paradise Island, you are brought back to solve the crime to end all crimes: the bloody murder of the Syndicate’s Council, the leading body of the group and Island, on the eve of the current island’s termination. It all sounds wonderfully absurd and mad, doesn’t it? And it is. But there is a method to this madness, and even what seems clear at first gets dragged into an intricate web of conspiracies, secrets, and hidden agendas. It’s up to you, the ‘freak investigator’, to unravel these mysteries and seek truth from fact in Paradise Killer.
This is an open-world detective game that tasks you with meticulously combing over Paradise Island 24, questioning suspects, witnesses, and gathering all sorts of evidence to build your cases. With no rails or walls to hold you back, how you go through the island is entirely up to you; not only that, but you can decide you have enough evidence at any point and start the trial—doing so prematurely means failing to unravel the truth behind what’s happened, however. The game handles this freedom exceptionally: there’s always something new to find, an ability to unlock, or a fact to discover, and the game’s robust note system and UI make it very hard to feel lost. Throughout the twelve or so hours I took to complete it, less than twenty minutes were spent puzzling over where to go next.
The trials begin
Evidence-gathering is very straightforward and comes in a handful of different ways, such as interacting with the environment and crime scenes, cross-examining the many Syndicate members who still haven’t left for Island 25, and finding discrepancies between different testimonies and the physical evidence you stumble upon. The vast majority of the game will be spent collecting these bits of evidence and leveraging them against your suspects in order to find out even more things; you don’t really have direct confirmation from the game that your findings are correct, and the suspects are (for the most part) very good at feigning innocence of whatever you accuse them of, so you have to build your case and hope you make a convincing argument during the final trial.
Speaking of suspects, this colorful cast of characters is as varied as their names are absurd. You will meet a crass demon, a goat-headed secret broker called Crimson Acid, a skeletal bartender, and many others. As you progress through the game, you’ll learn more about their origins, motivations and relationships with one another—the millennia of shared existence that these immortal beings have lived through gives them many of these, and Paradise Killer deftly sprinkles tids and bits of information that’ll help you not only in your quest, but also in fully realizing what exactly this alien place is. Figuring out the world’s lore—which, to put it briefly, involves a cabal of gods (cosmic entities that enslaved mankind and carried out multiple genocides and atrocities) worshipers on their dual-quest to build an island safe from demonic incursions and recover the deities they serve, all the while keeping a slave population of abducted people they use for work and as fuel for their sacrifices pacified and under control—was as interesting as piecing together the events of the night before and everything that led up to it.
Breathe life into Paradise
All of this is superbly conveyed through the game’s retro aesthetics, which look like a modern re-imagining of a PS2 title with a vaporwave filter slapped on top. The chunky textures and colorful locales, as well as the eco-brutalist architecture that’s reminiscent of mid 20th century São Paulo, give the game a very unique look; the characters, which are hand-drawn and displayed as 2D models, are also all very well-done, with visuals that tie-in to their history and personalities. Your growing selection of tunes, which range from slow jazz melodies to upbeat disco songs, fit very well with the theme, and I often caught myself opening the menu to select a song I liked or to just listen to the music for a bit.
The writing is also very good, both in terms of content and in how the game presents it to you, always keeping the different conversations interesting and filled up with facts relevant to your investigation and information about the setting. As a matter of fact, there are very few things in Paradise Killer I wouldn’t classify as exceptional—my only gripe was with how the skill that lets you see relic locations takes a few seconds to use instead of being immediate. There are some minor issues, of course, such as small grammar mistakes, but they did not impact my enjoyment of the game in any way whatsoever.
And may you reach the moon.
Paradise Killer is an exceptional and exceptionally unique game. An adventure that foregoes the gameplay shackles many of its genre-siblings bind themselves to (it was a glider short of me comparing it to Breath of the Wild), which gives you freedom to find your truth from the facts gathered, and that paints a compelling setting and cast of characters to interact with, Paradise Killer kept me engrossed from start to finish, and what an ending it was! The catharsis of seeing the fruits of my labor finally come to fruition as I accused suspect after suspect, laying upon them a case so thoroughly investigated and researched that they were incapable of casting any doubt upon it, unraveling all the lies and deceit they’d tried to lure me into, was unlike anything else. I recommend Paradise Killer wholeheartedly to nearly anyone, but specially those who enjoy adventure games and visual novels.
Paradise Killer can be found on the Nintendo Switch.