Disclaimer: Alysia Judge, former Esports Ray host, worked on Paradise Killer, giving the voice of the judge. Detective stories are almost always centered on finding evidence: that key evidence, that error in testimony, that missing cornerstone that holds together the rest of the story they sought to understand. But, if we’re being honest, proving things isn’t really the detective’s job – they find evidence, put it together, and present what they believe to be plausible truth. It is not so much proof as the confident suggestion that it might be proof. It’s a subtle distinction, and one that Paradise Killer understands intimately – and, as his credits rolled, I realized the whole game was about that distinction. Well, that and a world of demonic pleasure of ritualistic sacrifices performed to quench the thirst for psychic energy of unknowable goat-headed cosmic entities. It’s about that too. To be simplistic about it, Paradise Killer is something like a visual novel exploded into the structure of an open world game. It borrows heavily from Japanese mystery games, most notably the Ace Attorney and Danganronpa series, but eschews their carefully unfolded and mostly linear whodunnits for a fully explorable (and initially overwhelming) first-person investigation of a nearly deserted island, ending in a trial. in which you present the story that you believe is the right one. You play as Lady Love Dies (which is perhaps the least strange name on offer here), an immortal “investigation monster” who was exiled from Heaven 3 million days ago and is only invited to return. only after a frenzy of closed room murders ego arbiter of justice to bring in the only person deemed capable of solving the crime. Oh, and you come back from exile by leaping from a mile-high pedestal suspended above the actual game map as the opening credits roll. Yes, Paradise Killer is weird, with an aesthetic that can probably be best described as “Vaporwave Satanism” – imagine a neon sign covered in drops of blood, and you’re on your way. One of its best tricks is that it doesn’t just require you to piece together its mystery after the fact, but how its entire world works. People still act like people (and lie like people), but how does detective work change in a universe where ghosts can exist, gods can be imprisoned, and taxis can open up transdimensional divisions? You basically conduct two investigations: one building a case in your head and the other building the world in which it took place. It also means telling you too much about this world would spoil some of the fun, but at its most basic level: you are on an island, paradise, built like a beautiful vacation destination, but created to offer ritual human sacrifices. to gods from beyond the galaxy, led by The Syndicate, a group of immortals hiding in a pocket dimension beyond humanity’s reach. Honestly, those are the basics. It’s one of the most compulsively unique fictional words I’ve come across in recent years – enough that I’m hosting a sequel out of interest in that context alone. As Lady Love Dies, you roam the island entirely at your own discretion and pace, investigating its jarring blend of 3D architecture and 2D population, searching for clues left at crime scenes, tearing off testimonials from old friends and generally making a nuisance. yourself, as any investigator should. The beauty of this open-ended approach becomes evident very quickly – the first piece of evidence you find, which can more or less be anything, will inevitably point you to another clue, which might offer a different line of conversation with one. the many suspects (which range from married ex-murderers to a horny Scottish doctor living on a yacht). This conversation could, in turn, shatter someone else’s alibi, or even open up a whole new sub-case, promising new mysteries to be discovered. The thrill of unraveling a bloody, twisted story behind the crime you set out to solve is only heightened by the fact that you are more responsible for solving this crime than almost any other crime game I can think of. Evil Vibrations Special mention must be made of the Paradise Killer soundtrack, composed by Barry “Epoch” Topping. The mix of vaporwave synths, infectious grooves, and Japanese city pop influences feel absolutely right at home in the tropical setting and totally at odds with the subject matter in a way that sounds perfectly creepy. Wonderfully, the soundtrack has to be earned over the course of playing, with new tracks awarded for finding radio towers scattered across the island. I’m not a collection hunter in almost every game I come across, but I did my best to grab each lead before I ended my time with Paradise Killer. I recommend listening to “Leaving” immediately and repeatedly. The world you travel to do this is almost equally fascinating, a blend of the mundane and the bizarre perfectly integrated. Climb humble buildings in search of hidden clues, or the many collectable relics that offer a glimpse into what this dark world once was, and you’ll gaze at a landscape dotted with blood donation points, grotesque statues and of pyramids emerging from an endless sea. In an unexpected twist, Paradise Killer is also a sort of platform, asking you not only to roam the island, but also to know how to do it in some cases – even offering Unlockable double jumps and other abilities to help you find its most inaccessible corners. You’re not traveling to an ending, as such, more a culmination – you can start the murder trial that closes the story anytime after its introductory streak. The best comparison I can think of, weirdly, is how you can take on the last boss in Dragon’s Dogma at any time, with almost no obstacles in place to prevent you from doing so – it would probably be absolutely terrible to do so. too early. , but you can if you want. But that element of choice in when to stop also gives Paradise Killer its greater air of mystery – you’re never told when you’re done, you just have to know if there might be more clues than you. have not yet found. . Are you confident enough to make your point, or will you continue to roam the island to find out more? Unfortunately, that air of mystery gives way to Paradise Killer’s only real point of frustration. After about 10 hours of exploration, the clues start to decline, suspects have less to say and, without being able to effectively pick up on any clues they may have offered, you may just be dragged along on a almost empty island for several more. hours, searching for a glimmer of possibility based on nothing but intuition. Yes, it genuinely sounds like a detective story, but in practice it can get pretty boring – in reality you’re likely to start the final trial because you’re a bit bored of traveling fast through areas you’ve been through before, rather than because you have an unshakeable belief in your findings.Paradise Killer Screenshots But no matter how you get there, this trial sequence itself is the jewel in Paradise Killer’s crown. For obvious reasons, I won’t discuss the content of his story, but the structure is wonderful – an hour-plus riff on Ace Attorney trial footage, seeing you accusing suspects and then presenting your gathered evidence. to support these claims. Except that in Paradise Killer, there isn’t really a wrong answer. While there is a backstory to unravel, it can be interpreted in different ways – the evidence I collected might support one side, and the evidence you collect might support another, and the lawsuit may explain the two statements. That’s not to mention the potential for corruption, as you could intentionally accuse the wrong person of saving an obviously guilty character you’ve grown to love along the way, or just throw someone under the bus for no other reason than an evil whim. . The characters who survive – of course, there is a death penalty – can be very different depending on a given game. Paradise Killer doesn’t have a narrator in place to tell you the “real” story of what happened, and you are never told whether the actions you take – at any given time – are good or bad. You live like Lady Love Dies to the end, and your conclusions, whatever they are, are hers too, shaping the outcome of your stay in Heaven. This is, in essence, a first person game from a more than physical point of view. It’s a truly daring choice of storytelling, and one that makes Paradise Killer feel more authentically a detective than almost any game in the genre.