In Paradise Killer, the debut game of indie studio Kaizen Game Works, you need to find out who killed Paradise. Paradise isn’t a person, though – it’s an entire island full of lunatics, psychopaths, and “a thousand secrets.”

Let’s back up a bit, because this game’s lore is a bit hard to follow.

There’s this organization called the Syndicate, an immortal group that worships dead alien gods. They built Paradise Island, a place outside of our reality that is supposed to bring back these alien gods. But demons keep corrupting the island and killing everyone, so the Syndicate keeps building new ones.

With me so far? Good. So just when they are about to close attempt number 24 and start the cycle again, the entire Syndicate’s Council is murdered.

You play as detective Lady Love Dies, an investigator exiled by the Syndicate now brought back to solve the murder. You wander the island, gather evidence, and talk to an array of colorful suspects.

Lady Love dies

Paradise Killer is an open-world “free form” investigation, so you’re free to explore in any direction. You choose where to go, what to investigate, and who to talk to. Using information you gather, you can try and poke holes at a suspect’s alibi, or question their motives – just as a real TV detective does.

Once you’re done collecting all the evidence you can find, you’re free to accuse whomever you choose. But you’ll have to defend your case in a trial in front of the Judge, and convince them your suspect is indeed guilty.

After playing through the game’s demo, now available on Steam as part of LudoNarraCon 2020, I can honestly say finding the killer isn’t going to be an easy task. Paradise Island feels pretty big, with lots of little nooks and crannies to investigate, secrets to find, and riddles to solve.

You carry around a small computer called Starlight that helps you keep track of all the clues and statements you collected so far. You also use it to hack into “Nightmare Computers,” which, according to the devs, are a network of “arcane machines” created by aliens.

Paradise Killer Starlight

If all that sounds a bit strange to you, don’t worry – Paradise Killer manages to make (almost) everything about it feel completely normal and natural in the world it creates. Its environments, writing, and characters are all pretty surreal, but a kind of surreal that feels grounded if that makes sense.

I find it easy to compare it to games by Hidetaka Suehiro, also known as SWERY. Games like Deadly Premonition, D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, and the upcoming The Good Life. Maybe with a little of Suda51’s aesthetics thrown in there.

Paradise Killer is set to release on PC through Steam this summer.

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