‘Paradise Lost’ is a narrative game based on one of the big ‘What if?’ questions. What if the outcome of World War 2 ended differently in favour of the Nazis.
In the world and lore of ‘Paradise Lost’ America was hesitant to retaliate in 1945. Such an act could have eventually led to the end the war. Instead however, Europe was entered into a long standing stalemate and in order for to end it the Nazis nuked all of Europe, thereby ending the war.
‘Paradise Lost’s’ setting takes place 20 years after the bombs fell. You play as Szymon a young boy who enters the German bunker after his mother death in order to uncover the truth behind a photograph she left him. A photograph of her and an unknown man.
You explore inside this massive fallout shelter which was inspired by actual blueprints of a bunker the Nazis had planned to build underneath Poland but was never finished.
Upon entering the bunker for the first time you are met by total darkness. You get the sense that this place hasn’t felt the presence of another living human for quite some time. Yet once you switch on the power and the lights turn on, you start to get a sense of how big this place really is.
Next you descend into a section of the bunker designed to carry its lucky occupants to their destination via trains. Once you initiate the train platform elevator and start delving deeper into this massive complex, you start to get that feeling again that something is not quite right. Abandoned train carriage, after abandoned train carriage stands in your way of getting to the passport control offices and the elevator to the lower levels.
Yet, this once grand structure is now in disarray. Parts of the ceiling have collapsed and rubble now litters the floor.
Again you ask yourself, what happened here?
You feel this question niggling away in the back of your mind all the way through the game. It really is great level design as the world feels alive and lived in. It’s not only the home to your surroundings, it’s a character in of itself.
And that’s just the first chapter of the game, and is split into 5 chapters over all. Each following the five stages of grief.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally, Acceptance.
Now further along you do finally meet and interact another character in this lonely, desolate place. Her name is Ewa (pronounced ee-var). You don’t actually get to meet her in person, but you do talk to her and have conversations with her via the intercoms. The two of you then form a bond over the course of the game as you make your way through the bunkers vast and curious locations. The story is told mainly through dialogue between you and Ewa, but also through notes and tapes left throughout the bunker, and via audio logs on computer consoles.
‘Paradise lost’ is first and foremost a narrative driven game. The story, albeit short, is a very interesting and a personal one to unravel. So yes the game excels in giving you the player an interesting story to play.
However, not everything is perfect in paradise.
Paradise lost is riddled with performance issues, that at times made what should have been an interesting and enjoyable experience an absolute slog.
Now I’m not saying the game is bad.
I did managed to successfully complete a playthrough of the entire story from start to finish. What I’m saying is, the way that the current state of the game is in, is not what I would have expected it (especially after the rocky release of Cyberpunk 2077) to have officially been released in.
During my playthrough I was met with continuous visual glitches, where the graphical textures would drop in and out constantly. The lighting would glitch now and then multiple times, and I would be met with black squares in front of objects when the textures wouldn’t load properly.
I also had a series of sound issues where the sound would completely cut out after loading in a new chapter, only to return 10 seconds later.
Yet the main issue that plagued me throughout the game was the inconsistent frame rate. At most times it would run stable, but then other times it would drop completely, to a point the game would freeze and crash entirely.
The only other issue I had with this game was in the sound design of the main character. The main selling point of ‘Paradise Lost’ is that you play through the eyes of a young boy to get a innocent perspective of a world ravaged by war.
Unfortunately I didn’t get this sense or feeling when playing through the game. ‘Paradise Lost’ is essentially a walking simulator, so expect to hear a lot of footsteps. With the character being so young I would have expected to hear lighter, more softer sounding footsteps, but instead all I heard was what sounded like the clanking of heavy metal boots. Now I know this may seem like a small gripe, but given that this is the sound effect you hear 90% of the time throughout your playthrough, it really takes away from the ‘Looking through innocent eyes of a child’ concept. Instead, it just sounds like you’re playing as a generic adult character wearing heavy boots.
Unfortunately with the performance issues that ‘Paradise Lost’ has, some of the fun and enjoyment is lost along the way. That being said, once you look past this and accept it for what it is, you really do end up being interested in what the story and it’s setting has to offer overall. The Pros and the cons of the game almost seem to balance out in a way.
But in the end, ‘Paradise Lost’ is far from a perfect game. Outdated graphics and performance issues aside, the game does explore a unique take on the whole ‘What if?’ scenario and offers a cool and interesting insight into an alternate history that thankfully never came to pass.
‘Paradise Lost’ gets a 4 out of 10.
This review was based on a playthrough on an Xbox One S.
Paradise Lost is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC
You can purchase Paradise Lost on the Xbox Here for £12.49
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