Video games have been having us infiltrate Nazi bases for decades now, but lost paradise takes a decidedly more tempered approach than the blazing action of Wolfenstein or Sniper Elite. His underground bunker is almost completely desolate from the start of the story, so the closest you will ever have to having a rifle is when you are have a gun through binders to find clues to determine exactly what fate has befallen its inhabitants. Yet as I explored the often disturbing depths of Paradise Lost’s swastika-adorned dungeons with a sustained sense of morbid fascination, its frustrating and sparse approach to storytelling meant that my emotional investment in the plight of its characters remained permanently stuck. on the surface.
As part of the alternate storyline of Paradise Lost, World War II continued until 1960, leaving enough time for the Nazis to develop powerful atomic weapons in underground bunkers. Eventually, under pressure from the United States and the Soviets, the Nazis unleashed a nuclear holocaust and retreated underground, reducing the entire European continent to an uninhabitable wasteland. The story of Paradise Lost picks up again twenty years later, when a 12-year-old Polish survivor, Szymon, walks into one of these bunkers in search of a mysterious man who knew his late mother, and I felt a immediate attraction to know exactly who or what was hiding underneath.
Abduction of the Third Reich
The eerie descent into the cavernous expanse of Paradise Lost initially makes you feel like you’re in some sort of bunker-bound BioShock, and that feeling is reinforced when Szymon soon establishes a two-way radio relationship with Ewa, who is playing an Atlas role. style by helping Szymon navigate each area while keeping his true motives unclear. But there are no Splicers or Big Daddies to fight off when you select the remnants of the abandoned dystopia from Paradise Lost, and for the most part your actions are pretty basic and are limited to reading letters, listening to audio logs, and pull levers to turn on any dormant mechanisms that get in your way.
Outside of your interactions with Ewa, which are reasonably engaging but generally limited to the intercom microphones you encounter every now and then, you are effectively left alone to try and piece together the narrative as you roam every office and hallway for so much information. . like you can. By far the most stimulating way to absorb a bit of the bunker’s history is the handful of times you have access to an archaic EVE computer terminal, which provides you with black box-style recordings of the last moments of activity in the city. a given area. EVE is the AI that controls the security and farming systems of the bunker, among other things, and it’s oddly fascinating to watch a critical moment in this place’s history unfold on the terminal screen in a flurry of heat maps. human monitoring and crisis management probability calculations.
Screens – Paradise Lost
Oddly enough, these memory sequences are interactive, giving you control over where troops are deployed during a conflict between the Nazis and members of the Underground Polish State, for example. These choices helped me stay engaged in EVE interactions and they have slight implications for Szymon’s story, but I never really got to understand exactly how I was able to manipulate events that had already taken place. . Guess I must have missed that memo, and trust me when I say I read absolutely every memo I could get my hands on.
In fact, I have searched and reviewed all of the information I could find in Paradise Lost, and yet I still don’t feel like I know enough about the individuals on either side of its central conflict to truly worry about its outcome. At one point, Ewa insists that Szymon explore the cells where Polish women were held for heinous experiments in eugenics, in order to pay homage to their individual stories. But there is so much you can learn when the only interactive object in a cell is an exhausted punch card and another has nothing but a half-finished crossword puzzle, which makes it difficult to figure out. connection with their struggle.
Such stingy storytelling is unfortunately consistent throughout Paradise Lost. While the environments are extremely well designed, from man-made beach sides beneath looming rock ceilings to disheveled dwellings in living quarters, almost all of them look but don’t touch very little available for close examination. Paradise Lost is like a Doritos bag, it looks dense from the outside, but once you open it and reach inside, it’s surprising how much unused space is. It’s especially maddening how many times interactive drawers are completely empty when about one in ten can even be opened in the first place, especially given the slow speed at which Szymon goes through each room in search of pieces. of history.
I was also frustrated with Paradise Lost’s tendency to deliberately prevent you from fully exploring its surroundings. Some of the larger areas have two paths you can take, but going with one means definitely giving up the other and any possible exposure it can be accommodation. Towards the end of the story, you come across three locked doors, each containing potentially life-saving clues, but you only have the means to open two. Why do this? If the only purpose of your game is to tell a story, why intentionally isolate pieces of the player from it? If it’s purely a decision to encourage repeat games, then it’s not one with a lot of payoffs – I played a second time through the four-hour story of Paradise Lost, choosing different paths and EVE choice all along, and the only slightly altered result left me. to feel just as indifferent.It certainly didn’t help that the intermittent nature of Szymon and Ewa’s radio conversations meant that I never bought into their connection, which becomes the main focus of the story’s climax. With their sparse conversations not providing enough substance to grasp it all felt a bit forced, and their fate just didn’t feel as important to me as Paradise Lost seemed to expect.
There were also some technical flaws present in the PC version that I played for the review. The lines of dialogue repeat often, and on a few occasions I have fallen through the map, forcing a restart of the checkpoint. Since I chose to play with a controller with the Y axis inverted for the look controls, I was disappointed to find that it also inverted my inputs when interacting with objects – meaning I I had to counterintuitively push the joystick forward to pull down on a lever or pull it back to push through a door. This is not how reverse camera controls should work.