“Oh red skies, where love dies, close the door, I’ll stay forever. Here in Paradise.”
Paradise Killer is a first-person explorer/visual novel game on Nintendo Switch and PC where the player controls an inspector known as Lady Love Dies. LD, as her friends call her, has been imprisoned for 3 million days for an as-of-now unknown crime. All Hell breaks loose on the mysterious, titular Paradise Island, and the only one who can solve the case is her. The game begins with LD escaping from her cell after receiving an order from Judge to return to the island.
The dialogue in Paradise Killer is top-notch, and it has charm, sarcasm, and mystique in spades. However, it’s not fully voiced, with only some choice sentences getting the voice over treatment. This can be a bit distracting, but overall, the limited voice acting on display is high-quality. With a diverse cast of characters with wild, over-the-top designs, Paradise Killer’s eclectic crew stands out immensely. From Iranian skeleton bartenders to English horse-headed information brokers, the origins and appearances of every character varies greatly. Everyone’s personality is incredibly distinct, yet their banter plays off of each other perfectly.
The soundtrack of Paradise Killer is second-to-none, filled with jazzy tunes that surround the player with a laid back, summertime feeling. When playing Paradise Killer, I highly recommend headphones, as the mellow melodies in combination with the crashing waves and evening cicadas creates an inescapable atmosphere that contrasts beautifully with the demonic and ominous underbelly of Paradise.
The world established in Paradise Killer is both deeply confusing and incredibly fascinating. It’s written to be intentionally obtuse, yet manages to remain intriguing. The concepts of killers and paradise, alongside strong lunar imagery is reminiscent of industry titan Suda51’s works. The creative director claims that he is a major influence, and while it’s apparent that there was inspiration from his series, the game itself completely stands alone and has its own identity. Though there ARE a few references tossed in here and there.
Unfortunately, as one can expect from an indie project, there are a few issues within. The most frequent are the grammatical slip-ups, such as “it’s/its” or “there/they’re/their.” Another issue is the sparse use of commas that can make sentences incredibly difficult to read through. The subjects and predicates get jumbled and there’s no way to properly parse the exact meaning of the text box. Two different players could interpret the dialogue with two starkly different tones, and I hope that there’s a fix planned to solve this issue. Problems like this may be unimportant in another genre, but for a visual novel, the dialogue is critical. Minor typos like “wandering/wondering” and improper verb tenses also exist, but these can be overlooked for how few and far between they are.
Another one of the game’s minimal issues is the long initial load time. It’s completely understandable given that there are barely any loading screens once LD sets foot on the island, but it’s still noteworthy. When attempting to figure out a puzzle, sometimes LD or Starlight repeat dialogue until you solve it. This can be incredibly tedious, as many of the puzzles require experimentation, which is discouraged by the frequently required mashing of the A button to proceed.
Paradise Killer has an immense respect for the games that came before it, but a distinct flavor that’s all its own. The staff over at Kaizen Game Works did a phenomenal job with this title, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us. I highly recommend Paradise Killer to any Suda51 fans, visual novel aficionados, and those who are just interested in uncovering a deep conspiracy. The game’s length depends on the player, and could vary between 10-20 hours. There’s a lot of optional exploration that can lead to more evidence down the road, so it fluctuates from person to person. I give Paradise Killer an 88/100 for its charming cast, flavorful dialogue, and unforgettable presentation.
- Completely unique and visually pleasing aesthetic
- Engaging dialogue with a diverse cast
- Stellar soundtrack that feels like a gateway to Paradise
- True ending is somewhat obtuse
- Frequent typos and grammatical errors
- Finding your next objective can be difficult the first time in a new area