Review: Paradise Lost – A Beautiful Yet Haunting Narrative Experience

Review: Paradise Lost

Developed by PolyAmorous and published by All in! Games, Paradise Lost is a narrative adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world where a young boy finds an abandoned Nazi bunker. While we have seen plenty of post-apocalyptic adventures and stories previously, Paradise Lost takes a non-violent approach to the genre and brings a slow yet tense adventure that is no less haunting, nonetheless. This is our review of Paradise Lost on PC where we explore a giant Nazi bunker and try to uncover the secrets hiding deep within it.

Paradise Lost depicts an alternate history where the Nazis became extremely powerful and the WWII pushed far beyond 1945. Unleashing nuclear warheads on Europe, Nazis made sure that they had their own lavish, self-sustaining huge bunkers underground where they can sustain themselves and emerge powerful back on the surface once the radiation has passed away. The whole of Europe is left as a radiation-filled, post-apocalyptic wasteland where nothing can survive.  After the missiles are fired, one of the bunkers goes silent where Nazis were holding up and this is where the story takes place. You step in the shoes of a young boy called Szymon with a tragic past who was raised in the post-apocalyptic wasteland on the surface. He stumbles upon the bunker and this sets up the premise of the story of the game.

Review: Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost starts right where you arrive in the Nazi bunker and you start exploring it. However, the game does not just let you lose inside the bunker to do whatever you want to do. As you explore the bunker and find key objects, you get flashbacks of your past which range from just cutscenes to actually playable flashbacks that show your own past and how your journey towards the bunker started. These flashbacks play a vital role in setting up the story of the game and also show that your character is not just a random dummy that you are controlling around and actually has a backstory attached to it. Every time you reach a key spot or interact with a key object in the game, you get to see or play a flashback from your past. During my initial playthrough, I thoroughly scavenged each and every nook and cranny of the title so I got to see all of the flashbacks but I think that if you miss any of the objects in the game, you can miss a flashback as well.

These flashbacks are apart from the main story of the game which unfolds as you play through the bunker and continue to find more and more lore about what happened to the bunker and the people who used to live here. This bunker is no ordinary bunker as it looks like a traditional cave formation but the more you go inside the bunker, you discover that a whole civilization was about to live and survive down here until something went wrong, and now it is all empty and abandoned. Throughout your exploration, you come across tons of written material which include letters, journals, official documents, hastily written notes, and much more which allow you to understand the lore of the bunker and its secrets even more. You also find out that despite the old age of the bunker, things are fairly functional inside and nearly everything works just fine with a few tinkering here and there.

Review: Paradise Lost

Progression is often locked behind certain puzzles, but these puzzles are not too difficult to understand and solve. There are no jump scares or anything in the game despite the haunting bunker and the sounds of machinery echoing everywhere. The only thought of you being all alone inside a huge bunker sends chills down your spine and that is enough to make the game feel extremely atmospheric. The puzzles mostly require a little bit of thinking and sometimes you are good to go with just a few levels pulls. The game certainly depicts punk-era technology in all of its glory. The whole bunker is full of 1980s technology with huge computers and glaring screens in every office and terminal. There is not much backtracking in the game, and it is mostly linear when it comes to progression with some open environments encouraging you to explore these levels thoroughly for lore.

When I started playing the game, I got extremely high Metro 2033 vibes from the game but as I progressed further in the game, it started to give its own vibe and I started to love the highly detailed environments and levels in the game. After certain progression in the game, you reach the main zone of the bunker which is just beautiful and the sheer size of it just feels overwhelming. However, there is a major twist in the story when you hear a girl’s voice who calls herself Eva and then you get a new goal in the game as well apart from finding out what really happened in the bunker. The different reading material that you find inside the bunker depicts both sides of the Nazi, the helplessness of their people, and the war crimes of their military that they have committed or were planning to commit in the future. The writing is pretty decent in the game and I loved the unique approach of the developer.

The story has a unique twist at the end, and you are presented with a major choice at the end as well. I am not going to spoil the entire story here but the story is pretty intriguing and keeps you bound to the game. This is actually a good thing because if you are consistent, you can easily complete the full game in around 5 or 6 hours in a single sitting as well. If you skip most of the exploration and really push the game, you can even manage around 4 hours to complete the main story of the game however the game does not allow you to revisit previous levels or checkpoints so once your story is complete, you have to start all over again so if you are a completionist, you better playthrough each level in the game thoroughly.

The gameplay is where the game starts to lose its touch a little as there is not much to do in the game apart from just walking. The whole game is about exploration, reading what the people left behind, and solving the puzzles in the game. You could say that it is a walking sim as your main goal in the game is just walking and exploring different areas in the game while doing so. Each area is full of different interactable items or notes that you can check out or read which allow you to delve deeper into the lore of the game. Sometimes you will also need to solve different puzzles to progress in the game which are really interesting as well sometimes. Most of them however require you to find certain items and bringing them to the key location or pulling some levers to progress further in the game.

One of the things that you might notice in the game is that Szymon moves really slow in the game. For me, I think that the developer deliberately made his move a little slower than usual, one because he is exploring an unknown location so sprinting at full speed would not make sense and also he is a young boy so his legs should be smaller as compared to a fully grown man. The movement might be annoying for some players however since I did not rush the game, I found it just okay however I did see some online players complaining about it. As long as you are not rushing the game, you should be perfectly fine with Szymon’s movement speed in the game.

Apart from this, there are a few issues with the game when it comes to the technical aspect of the title. The most annoying one is perhaps the frames that drop a lot in certain areas. Despite playing on a relatively powerful machine, the frames dropped considerably for me throughout the game. Although they were not massive to the point that the game would start choking but, in some areas, they were more annoying than they were in other areas. Apart from the framerate dips, there were a few visual glitches in the game here and there at certain angles where an item would disappear and then would reappear later in the game.

Apart from the visual, sometimes the gameplay would appear to be a little clunky as well especially when you are interacting with different items. Instead of having a particular area around an object from where you can interact with it, you must be present at the perfect spot to interact with these levers or any other note or journal. This would cause you to move around a little bit and find out the exact spot where you can finally interact with these objects. While these are not massive game-breaking bugs and glitches, these become annoying sometimes. However, these can be fixed easily with some post-launch upgrades and patches so I am hopeful that PolyAmorous spends a little time and further optimizes the title along with some more polish here and there to make Paradise Lost perfect technically as well.

Final Verdict:

Paradise Lost is a great, narrative experience that might feel a little clunky sometimes. Personally, I believe that a little post-launch polish should fix the sometimes-clunky gameplay mechanics and the visual hiccups here and there that you might come across during your playthrough. Since nothing is game-breaking, it is not something that needs the urgent attention of the developer but if the developer could fix them, it will make Paradise Lost a true masterpiece of a narrative experience. The story is decent, the sense of playing the game as a little boy is great and the haunting feeling of being all alone in a huge yet beautiful Nazi bunker is just amazing. I had a great time playing Paradise Lost despite the often framerate loss in the game. The positives easily outweigh the negatives in the game at this point. If you love narrative experiences with beautiful levels and sometimes haunting and tense moments, I will highly recommend that you give Paradise Lost a shot.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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