Paradise Lost analysis, Firewatch strokes in a Nazi bunker (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
What if World War II hadn’t ended? What if the outside world was a cold nuclear wasteland? That is what this Polish narrative adventure poses.
The first film from the Polish studio PolyAmorous is a narrative adventure worthy of the first game of a new development team: down to earth, without pretending to invent the wheel and using the shapes and tones of those who have more experience than them. Paradise Lost is a title focused on plot and exploration where we are presented with a uchrony: World War II never ended and the world fell apart when they started dropping nuclear bombs without rhyme or reason. In this post-apocalyptic scenario, we play a boy nearing adolescence who will have to visit a Nazi bunker with a lot of history.
An underground city replete with a horrifying past
Szymon has spent his entire life in a small cave that he calls home with his mother. When she passes away, she finds herself aimlessly, but with a probably impossible goal in mind: to find the man who appears with her mother in the photo she finds shortly before she dies. That leads him to explore a Nazi bunker that is much more than what it seems at first: it is a huge underground city, with well-distinguished areas and even with separate spaces for the more and the less well-off, which was intended to serve as a shelter. during nuclear winter to produce enough weaponry with which to win over the Allies.
Paradise Lost can be separated into two stories. On the one hand, the plot of Szymon looking for his possible father and trying to find Ewa, a woman who gets in touch with the little boy through the facilities’ microphone system. Ewa, as if she were the Delilah from Firewatch, guides, comforts, explains, and excites the protagonist during their journey. A journey, however, that in terms of game mechanics we have lived countless times in the genre.
We explore environments, we look for an item on the stage to use it in a machine, we relive sequences from the past with some flashbacks , we get an idea of the most important events that occurred in the bunker with the terminals and we make a decision without too much weight in the last bars that slightly vary the scene before the credits. It is a story that flirts with anachronistic science fiction, with some very predictable script twist that we will probably forget in a short time, but that manages to maintain interest (except for a specific moment in which the rhythm is diluted) in a game that lasts between three and four hours.
It is the other part of that story that has seemed much more interesting to us: what happened in the bunker years ago. In the same way that we discovered the chaos that Rapture plunged in Bioshock thanks mainly to the environmental narrative, the same resource is used here. Through the details of the settings, the voice recordings that we find here and there, and of course, the very frequent notes of different characters, we are told about conflicts, experiences, reflections, and frightening situations of a past society that reflects (and obviously criticizes) how Nazism views the individual as a cog more within production machinery. The construction of that world, of which we see only a cracked foundation, is much more round than the main plot of Szymon, Ewa, and the lost father.
A very traditional narrative adventure
That does not mean that PolyAmorous could have been more careful in how to use the game mechanics to tell those two stories. It is true that we cannot expect all first-person narrative adventures to be What Remains of Edith Finch (where the unique interactivity of the video game is used to tell and engage the player), but it has been many years (specifically, almost a decade) since that Dear Esther established a basis for a genre that has evolved a lot: Paradise Lost feels stuck in the past in its mechanical aspect. It doesn’t help either that your two main ideas don’t work.
Perhaps to establish the slow tone of their script, or perhaps to represent that we are controlling a child, the developers have decided that the movement is very slow even when we run, something that from the beginning is heavy. The same effect causes interaction with items and doors: a circle appears on the screen with a point in the center and an area to move it to; We must hold down the mouse click and move it up, down, right, or left, leaving it there for a moment. This happens with each door and each time we introduce something into a machine, among other actions; It didn’t take long for us to wish that such mechanics were gone.
Chiaroscuro in the bunker
Being the environmental narrative the point at which Paradise Lost stands out, the visual section has to be up to par. And it is, at least in part. Without being surprising, it does show a lot of inventiveness when it comes to recreating the underground city and the variety of its environments. In addition, the decoration of rooms, decadent spaces, graffiti, statues, and many other elements leave us thinking about what happened there, about how the individuals of that society lived, and in some cases, even who they were.
But while there is a lot of work on the decorative side and the use of lighting often leaves some very eye-catching captures, the truth is that some textures, visual effects, and animations are worthy of a handful of years ago. And although it only happened to us once, there are some other errors: in our case, the character made the animation of opening a door, but it remained closed, forcing us to load the last checkpoint. Also, if you plan to play on television, you will have to get closer because the font is a bit small.
Speaking of lyrics, the title is translated into Spanish from Latin America while the original version of the dubbing is in English with some words and expressions in Polish that give the feeling of being somewhat forced. But even so, the interpretation of Szymon and Ewa is very good, almost as well as the sound effects that perfectly immerse us in the proposed world and of which we only have one complaint: sometimes the positional audio does not work as it should and makes strange.
Paradise Lost – Launch Trailer
PolyAmorous’s debut feature is an entertaining and traditional first-person narrative adventure that, over its three to four-hour duration, catches us until we see the credits, thanks to an environmental narrative and a very interesting world construction than the main story starring Szymon, somewhat forgettable and full of clichés. Paradise Lost does not innovate in how it tells its story or in the usual interactions of the genre, but that does not mean that it fulfills its objective quite well and that it has left us wanting to know even more about this world in which the Second World War and their barbarities ended in a nuclear winter.
We have carried out this analysis with a code for Steam offered by Evolve PR. The equipment used has an Nvidia RTX 3070 8 GB, an AMD Ryzen 5600X, and 32 GB of RAM.