Paradigm Review – Hilarious yet flawed
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Jacob Janerka
Release: 5th April 2017
Review Key provided by Jacob Janerka
After a successfull Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and a long waiting time, Paradigm, the somewhat different Point´n Click adventure, finally launched on 5th April. Developed by one man, it promises a surreal and unique experience in a post apocalyptic world eastern european country. Just imagine the stories it could tell in this scenario about struggling survivors and death … Or about the mutated Paradigm who just wants to finish his EP but gets haunted by a candy vomiting sloth.
It all started with the Prodigy child project, with which rich parents could engineer the child of their dreams. Like every moral questionable experiment it created some serious throwbacks, like our handsome protagonist Paradigm, who just wants to create some phat beatsies and live his life. Unfortunately some million tons of plutonium under the eastern european country Krusz and the candy vomiting sloth Olof and his organization all have something against his plans. So, the mission of Paradigm to save the world in the name of electronic music begins. On his journey he will meet and gather new companions and friends like the beat boxing eggplant Doug, the Cone (TM) or the local Drug dealer, riding an old man on rollerblades.
As you can see, Paradigm isn´t a game that takes itself too serious, to say the least. It never tries to explore the moral questions, asked by its setting or delivering a deep and emotional story. Instead it tells a truly hirlarious and unique one. Unlike other games it manages to package its array of strange ideas and designs into a natural environment. To be honest, I can´t laugh about the most humouristic games because of their “in your face” mentality, constantly rubbing 4th wall breaking and self irony in the player´s face. Paradigm on the other hand never solely relies on this strategy, instead it creates a world that works with its ideas and humour. The way a beatboxing eggplant seems to be a totally normal thing in this world made me laugh quite a few times, something only a few games could do. Frankly its humour isn´t for everyone but if you have the same sick sense of humour like me Paradigm will hit the spot like no one else.
The writing is also worth noting, since it rcould put Paradigm´s spirit in words. Every object interaction, no matter if optional or not, offers more of its strange but hilarious humour, motivating you to click on everything. Combined with the surprisingly good written dialogues, that manage to give every character, no matter his screen time, some unique character traits and a personality, Paradigm doesn´t only have amazing ideas but can deliver them in a way they deserve.
All these ideas and creativity are presented in an unique visualization that reminds of a futuristic vision from the 70s-80s, mixed with an artstyle that´s nearly as unique as the game itself. The amount of work put into the characters and world designs is sheer amazing, everything is packed with little easter eggs, ideas and details, you could look at certain scenes for minutes and still discover something new. Its design, details and ideas could surprise me everytime during its ~5-7 hours long campaign, I´m just amazed by this sheer amount of creativity. Additionally the music does a great job at underlining every area. While not generally outstanding every idea or scene gets it own unique flair by its soundtrack, which is sometimes as weird as the game itself.
Yet Paradigm can´t keep its crazy humour and visuals as interesting as they could be. Where the first act could impress with a colourful world and a giant amount of new ideas, its second act somehow disappoints. Ditching the colourful design and mainly concentrating on a few ideas and characters it fails at delivering the same experience or even surpassing it. Instead your offered a still enjoyable but lackluster second half, which could never quite live up to the beginning.
Unfortunately it also fails at delivering a balanced Point´n Click experience. Paradigm´s puzzles are collection based, meaning that your goal isn´t to find a solution for the problem but to have collected the right objects. Since it´s just a blast to explore these different areas I experienced the puzzles during th first half as way too easy, offering no real challenge or thinking most of the time.
On the other hand the second half offers puzzles that are too hard, due to the lackluster explanations or hints the game provides. I often felt lost in some puzzles for some minutes, because the game and Paradigm´s tumour (yes I´m serious), that gives you advice, just make no effort at helping you. For example, you have to beat a Pug in a turn based fight (why not?!), the only way to do so is to find a laserpointer and use it during the fight but the game only provides vague hints to it during the time before the puzzle but never in the actual puzzle.
To summarize, Paradigm just fails at giving proper hints and explanations to its more complex puzzles, leading to a trial and error procedure, than actual thinking, especially due to its collection based puzzle mechanic. Additionally the puzzles can´t live up to the creativity of the game itself, leading to unremarkable and unchallenging puzzles that just disappoint in contrast to the brilliant rest. From my ~5h playthrough I can only remember 1 puzzle, that truly stood out, not a good sign.
Paradigm is a game full of creativity, love and humour, which never fails at drawing a smile on your face. It may suffer from a mediocre adventure gameplay with either too easy or too vaguely explained puzzles and an enjoyable yet disappointing second half. However there was never a point I was bored of Paradigm and when the credits rolled over my screen my thirst to see more of this world was gigantic. All in all Paradigm offers an okay-ish adventure gameplay but a journey no one with a sense for dark humour should miss, a must-buy.