Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Paradise Killer is an open world investigation adventure with some platforming elements. The game begins with exploration of the beautifully crafted Island Sequence 24 (the 24th iteration of would-be island paradise). The player takes on the role of Lady Love Dies, an investigator who is freed from exile when the island's governing Council is murdered. As Love Dies, you must figure out who committed the murders, why they did it, and how they executed the crime.
The narrative element of Paradise Killer does not disappoint. It brilliantly incorporates player choice, allowing you to collect as little or as much information/evidence as you want before the trial begins. You could spend less than 5 hours on this game, or spend 40+ hours finding every scrap of information. The more you play, the more complex the case becomes. Interplay between the characters can result in broken alibis, surfacing of secrets, and gotcha moments. The plotline manages to avoid loopholes, with precious few inconsistencies making their way into the game. This is especially impressive given that Lady Love Dies must keep track of each character's timeline and location(s) to confirm or break their alibi. You are also given ample opportunity to learn about the game's lore, from fictional gods to the histories of the islands and characters. Players are rewarded for exploring thoroughly, both in terms of tangible rewards and immersion.
Paradise Killer boasts a diverse cast of characters with distinct personalities, occupations, and ideologies. It is also refreshingly difficult to identify those involved in the Council’s murder. Many investigation-style games struggle to find an appropriate level of difficulty (see my Night Call review), and few things are more disappointing than a predictable killer. Paradise Killer avoids the pitfalls of similar games by adding unpredictable elements like possessions (by demons) and deceptions (by gods). Combined with testimony contradictions, strong motivations among the suspects, and myriad sources of information/evidence, these aspects make Paradise Killer feel like a true mystery. The ability to build relationships with characters through the hangout feature is also wonderfully executed. You are not required to spend any time on hangouts, but you can unlock extra clues and learn more about the characters if you choose to utilize them.
The game’s controls are mostly standard and simple to pick up. Upgrades can be obtained from foot baths scattered across the island, and each one gives Lady Love Dies a new power. All of them are immensely useful and flow seamlessly with the game's core mechanics. The ctrl function allows you to see the suspects’ locations relative to Lady Love Dies, and you can use save checkpoints to fast travel between locations. These features are useful and help players navigate the world with minimal frustration. However, getting used to Starlight takes some time and can be overwhelming at first. It does become a helpful feature, since it collects and summarizes the information you’ve gathered; however, I found myself frustrated by it for the first 1/3 of the game. Once enough information was collected that it could be organized into folders rather than remaining unsorted, Starlight became a boon rather than a nuisance. Difficulty adapting to Starlight is my only complaint about the game.
Paradise Killer’s style is distinct and visually appealing. The game boasts phenomenal character designs, with Lady Love Dies' being the best. Each suspect's personality is emphasized by the colors and patterns they wear, and the island environment offers a beautiful world to explore. The music is delightful, and everything from the buildings to the plants is stylized to perfection.
Overall, Paradise Killer delivers an excellent gaming experience and is well worth its $19.99 price tag. It manages to ooze charm as top-tier indie games do, and the hype surrounding this game is well-deserved. I strongly encourage you to give it a try, if you haven't already.
Overall Score: 9.8/10