Paradise Killer by Kaizen Game Works
Every once in awhile, a game comes along that practically dares you to explain it to someone. In an industry full of experiences often describable as “X big release mixed with Y big release,” it’s surprising to find something that leaves you struggling to find the words for it.
What exactly is Paradise Killer, then? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s weird, it’s unique, and it’s great.
Paradise Killer’s weirdness begins with its plot. Its setting, Paradise Island, is an island where worshipers of ancient alien gods are trying to create the perfect environment to bring them back. Each time, demons come in to ruin things, and the island is restarted every few millennia by the island’s ruling Council.
On the eve of the island’s next rebirth, the Council is brutally murdered, and everyone still on the island is a potential suspect. This is where you come in. As professional investigator Lady Love Dies (yes, that’s really her name), your job is to find the culprit.
Confused so far? Well, buckle up.
Take Me Down To The Paradise City
In terms of gameplay, Paradise Killer is fairly straightforward. You’re free right away to wander the island at your discretion, looking for clues and suspects as you go. There are also plenty of items to find as you explore.
These can be as simple as relics that fill you in on the island’s history or as significant as upgrades to LLD’s computer that let her access new areas. It’s a sprawling game and manages to always feel like there’s something new to find.
The interviews with the suspects are where the meat of the story takes place, as they pan out much like a visual novel. While this could be otherwise mundane, Paradise Killer makes their stories a joy to discover through creative designs and excellent writing. They often come off as real people, despite occasionally being things like a red skeleton wearing a Miami Vice jacket.
The investigations don’t treat you like an idiot, either. The game leaves the clues up to you to piece together, as your computer will record important information but not tell you exactly why it’s significant. Thankfully, if you get stuck, there are help options you can turn on, as well. It’s a great system that feels like it genuinely respect’s the player’s intelligence.
If I have one complaint to give, it’s that exploration can start to get a little mundane. The island is massive, and some parts can end up feeling like quite a bit of empty space, especially when returning during investigations.
There is an unlockable fast-travel system, but it uses the same currency that you use to buy upgrades and clues. I often found myself avoiding it because I was worried about having enough money for more important things, which added to the tedium.
Return to Paradise
Almost as significant as Paradise Killer’s gameplay is its aesthetic, and it’d be a shame not to highlight it. The game does its best to make itself feel like a playable Vaporwave album, from the neon colors to the chilled-out music.
It creates an atmosphere that’s familiar but also alien, and it makes the whole experience that much better. Where else can you find ’80s bordellos built beside giant crystal skulls?
If it wasn’t obvious by now, Paradise Killer is a unique experience. It’s one that likely isn’t going to appeal to everybody, but for my money, this is one of the most interesting and refreshing games I’ve played in a long time. It’s not perfect, but what it does well far outweighs any nitpicks I have.
I heartily encourage you to give it a try if any of this sounded appealing to you. If nothing else, I can guarantee you’ve never played anything else quite like it.
Paradise Killer is available via the Nintendo Game Store and Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Paradise Killer below: