Paradise Killer Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Paradise Killer
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer | Publisher: Kaizen Game Works | Fellow Traveller
Age Rating: EU 16 | US M (Mature)
Price: UK £15.49 | EU €19.99 | US $19.99 | CA $26.45
Release Date:  September 4th 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Fellow Traveller!

Story and Characters

Does anyone else think an arcane texts class sounds awesome?

Paradise Island is a regenerating dystopian island, inhabited by alien god-worshippers called The Syndicate under the guidance of The Council. The Syndicate, in the bid to revive their gods and create a true utopia, releases huge amounts of psychic energy into the universe – however, as any video game fan can already tell you, large outpourings of power tend to attract attention from ‘the other side’, meaning demons. The rising influence of demons eventually leads to the corruption of each island, making a new incarnation necessary. There’s a wealth of history to be discovered about the search for Paradise, if you have the patience to hunt it down. 

Unfortunately for The Syndicate, on the evening of the transfer from Perfect 24 to Perfect 25, the entire Council is murdered. This effectively kills Paradise, leading to a drastic call – the recall of the exiled “investigator freak”, Lady Love Dies. There’s a very obvious suspect – a demon-possessed Citizen, previously incarcerated for violent behaviour who just so happened to escape on the same day – but Paradise Killer is a game of truths and facts. It’s always worth digging deeper, and not taking anything for granted. As long as you can support your claim, you can indict any of the characters you come across, providing a level of freedom not often found in mystery games.

The unique and quirky characters are oddly charming, despite their often bizarre appearances or behaviours (I’m looking at you, Shinji!), and every single one leaves a lasting impression. From the oh-so-charming Dr Doom Jazz to the sly information broker-turned-idol Crimson Acid, each individual has their own personality and motivations, including well-fleshed backgrounds that can be discovered through conversation or finding a variety of secrets from across the island.


Nice… Horns?

First-person isn’t usually my style of choice, but it turned out not to be a problem in Paradise Killer. Navigation and camera movement are done using the left and right control sticks, and the face buttons provide interaction with objects in the world, but no matter how many times I’ve done it R still feels wrong for jump! L as sprint isn’t so bad, but I’d have preferred it to be on ZL personally. 

Gameplay has a couple of main components: Starlight, Nightmare computers, world exploration, and conversations. Starlight is Lady Love Dies’ constant investigative companion – a specially-designed laptop containing everything from the inventory to automatic evidence logging. Once a piece of evidence has been found, for example an alibi or a fact that proves a specific link to a character, Starlight will automatically log it against the individual in question. It’s super handy, and considering the amount of evidence I’d hate to have to do it all by hand!

Well, that was a surprise appearance!

Nightmare computers are scattered across the island, often acting as border monitors that track movements between areas. These have to be hacked to retrieve the information, which is a relatively simple task as long as you have the appropriate Starlight upgrade installed. Interacting with the Nightmare computer will launch a series of shadow puzzles, in which you must make the images shown from the pieces available.

Paradise Killer’s open-world is oddly reminiscent of Skyrim, in that I could jump from the top of a tower and land on a random wall below without any invisible walls or pathfinding interfering. It works well, too; Blood Crystals (currency) and memories can be found absolutely anywhere, so you really have to stick your head down every nook and cranny to find everything! There is an AR view, which overlays important markers on your current view, but don’t expect a nice useful map or quest markers to guide you anywhere.

Conversations are generally split into Case Files and Hang Outs. Hang Outs are simply a relationship-building exercise, in which you have a chance to improve the relationship by responding favourably to the conversation. Case Files are where the real meat can be found; I recommend running through every possible conversation and revisiting characters frequently to cross-check new information. People can give your their own alibis and suspicions, corroborate or break another character’s alibi, or even shed light on a motive for someone you’d never considered – it’s a beautifully well-developed system, and a genuine joy for my inner detective.

Graphics, Sound, and Performance

The charm really doesn’t match the outfit… And yet…

Paradise Killer is… colourful. Everywhere you look there are vivid landscapes, with equally colourful and diverse character models. It can, admittedly, get a little overwhelming at times. I certainly found myself playing in shorter bursts to avoid the colour-induced headache when the virtual sun was up. It’s trippy, not necessarily in a bad way but definitely an experience.

Voice acting! I love a good voice-acted character, and every single character in Paradise Killer has at least a couple of voiced lines, giving them a real sense of personality and adding to their charm – my favourite has to be Dr Doom Jazz, but I may be a little biased. The sound design is absolutely spot-on too; it’s oddly chilled out without being relaxing, and incredibly hard to describe. However, I can say it would make awesome study music!

While I wouldn’t personally recommend playing Paradise Killer in handheld mode – the world is so beautiful, and detailed, that it feels a little crammed-in on the smaller screen – I did try it out, and it played pretty nice, however, it’s really in its element when on the TV. Despite the huge amount of colour and detail present at every turn, there was never a noticeable lag or control issue. Load screens are very few and far between, and while a little bizarre they don’t last unbearably long, so the experience is relatively seamless unless you do something daft like jumping into the deep water (turns out, Lady Love Dies can’t swim…).


Um, you alright there, Shinji?

Paradise Killer is everything I wanted from an open-world detective game; complete freedom to interrogate and investigate, not having to worry about missing a clue because you can always go back to that location, secrets hidden both in plain sight and tucked away, and the ability to decide for yourself who is guilty. Throw in a likeable protagonist, a liberal sprinkling of inappropriate humor and swearing (pay attention to that age rating!), and a truly mind-boggling cast of characters; Paradise Killer is a bizarre but wondrous experience that you’d be remiss to miss out on – I’m just praying for a collector’s edition release!


Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up

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