Rectify Gaming

Review: Paradise Killer


Posted on December 3, 2020 by Christian Bianchi

Listen to this Article:

  • 9.3/10
    - 9.25/10
9.3/10

Summary

A true detective story that brings believability into an unbelievable world, Paradise Killer is a tale of intrigue that truly rewards your investment. 

Comparisons are normally a starting point to grab people’s attention. Does this shooter play like Halo or Call of Duty? If you like platformers, does this feel like Mario, Sonic, or something else?

But using comparisons falls mostly flat with Kaizen Game Works’ first and latest IP, Paradise Killer. I’m just gonna come out and say it: Paradise Killer is a combination of the most disparate ideas into a cohesive package I’ve seen in a videogame yet: A vaporwave murder mystery RPG set in a 3D open world with prominent 2D assets. And from my investigations, It’s done this all immaculately.

2D and 3D assets are both uniquely utilized making characters pop
and environments fill in everything around them.

The premise without spoilers: You are Lady Love Dies (Yes, that’s your actual name), a so-called investigation freak. You are being summoned back to paradise to solve a locked room, mass-murder. What do I mean, Paradise? Who was murdered? Telling you any of these things outright would take away from the joy behind the game itself. You’re a detective, you have your case, and now you have to solve it.

Most of this is done through exploring the island of paradise on foot (which you skydive down to without a parachute by the way). In a strange twist, the traversal being so bare-bones somewhat hurts the game despite how much there is to see and do. You can walk and jump but…that’s about it. Compared to how fleshed out all of the characters and the world are, all you can do is walk and stiffly jump to get around.

The island of Paradise lives up to its name just about any angle you look at it.

You might not notice the traversal at first with the blinged-out environments you visit. Concrete hotel complexes, skyscraper-sized religious temples, eerily empty courtrooms, construction yards, mountainside bars, and even sewer penthouses in your investigation. And yet it all ties together visually in a way that feels fresh every time you revisit an area.

Character designs are vibrant, stylish, and unmistakable.

The environments are all meant to match the outlandish characters of Paradise. Naming them all in explicit detail is honestly difficult due to just how varied they all are. There’s the loose-lipped bilateral amputee Doctor Doom Jazz, the fervently religious Witness-to-the-End, the retired assassin Lydia Daybreak, and her literal blood-red skeleton husband Sam Daybreak just to name a few.

The best part? You, the protagonist, Lady Love Dies, supposedly know all of these people on a personal level, but it’s just been a hot minute since you last chatted. In the narrative, it’s a reunion; For the player, it’s a learning experience. Was Doctor Doom Jazz always this flirtatious? How did Lydia end up marrying a sapient skeleton? Who has changed since you last spoke with these people and who has remained the same? All questions you’ll have answers to as you continue to play. On top of that, you can just go off the investigation if you’d like and just have casual conversations with everyone. Whether they’re receptive or not is based on how you talk that talk though.

Your in-game computer tracks every clue you learn, but it never outright gives you guilty or innocent verdicts. That is up to YOU.

Talking is a lot of what you’ll be up to in Paradise Killer; So much so, that the game (thankfully) tracks notable clues for you in your handy pocket computer, Starlight. It’s your vaporwave notebook and lifeline, complete with music and wallpapers. You won’t get to repeat conversations with anyone so paying attention during conversation and noting what Starlight kept track of is key to your advancing your investigation. The clincher here is that you can choose to bring all of it to a close whenever you like. You can call for trial any time by going to the court and calling Judge to start. Just know that you’re going to need the evidence to back up whatever you say.

And then there’s the trial itself. The Trial is where everything really steps into fifth gear. Your payoff for all of that digging around and chatting up the suspects in paradise. From my experience, you most likely won’t have a definitive answer to Whodunnit, even if you’ve lived up to the moniker of “investigation freak” that everyone in paradise knows you as. That being said, you will have enough to make your own declaration, triumphantly stating your case in front of the gods and everyone else in the room.

Conversations can be quick and snappy like this, or they can be like pulling teeth.
Your call.

However, I would be remiss to spoil anything else about the trial. It’s the event you build up to throughout your entire story progression and that’s something you need to experience for yourself. You get to know Crimson Acid, Yuri Night, the Grand Marshal, Carmelina Silence, and the rest of the bunch throughout the game so calling them out in front of everyone is particularly satisfying.

Lastly, I want to talk about the only other negative in this phenomenal game: If you spend too much time investigating, the characters will eventually run out of the charm and charisma of the earlier story when you first meet them. This will take a hefty 20+ hours to reach but it is something that eventually rears its head if you grind for more in every conversation

That ties up Paradise Killer in a neat little bow though. With all of the big ticket releases this year, It’s amazing to see that arguably one of the absolute best of 2020 is a brand new IP that rewards you for diving deeper into the story, characters, and world it gives to you. While it’s slow, methodical pace isn’t something that I believe is meant for everyone, I think that as many people as possible should experience Kaizen Game Works’ creation. A weekend of peaceful exploration and clue gathering punctuated by an aesthetic like no other? I know I’ll be back. If Paradise Killer is indicative of KGW’s future, then there’s a lot to look forward to.

Paradise Killer is available now on Nintendo Switch, and on PC with Windows or MacOS.

Share Everywhere!

My name is Phace, aka. Christian Bianchi and I'm a creative and content writer. I've been passionately following video games since the late '90s and that train isn't derailing.I cover just about everything in the games' industry, but if it gets your heart pumping I almost assuredly have more to say than base impressions.As a writer for Rectify Gaming, I take games and give you the phace to face details you need to know in order to have fun.

About The Author

Christian Bianchi

My name is Phace, aka. Christian Bianchi and I'm a creative and content writer. I've been passionately following video games since the late '90s and that train isn't derailing.

I cover just about everything in the games' industry, but if it gets your heart pumping I almost assuredly have more to say than base impressions.

As a writer for Rectify Gaming, I take games and give you the phace to face details you need to know in order to have fun.