An Alternate History
Explore an Alternate Europe Devastated by Nuclear War
You play as Szymon, a 12-year-old Polish boy orphaned in the irradiated ruins of an alternate 1980 Krakow. Szymon was sheltered by his mother and has only a few clues about his world, such as an old photograph of a man who may be his father.
You play as Szymon, a 12-year-old Polish boy orphaned in the irradiated ruins of an alternate 1980 Krakow.
In his search, Szymon discovers an old Nazi bunker. Abandoned for twenty years, the place is eerily quiet. He searches for scraps of clues about what happened to his world. What he finds is usually grim, sometimes beautiful, and always mysterious.
The interior of the bunker is oppressive, militaristic, and just what you would expect from Nazis. But beneath it lies a secret city which contains as much of wonder as of dread. When the Nazis nuked Europe, they hoped to retreat to hidden “paradises” like this one, to survive and create their perfect society. But here in Krakow, at least, it all went wrong.
Well. Wrong-er, anyway. These are Nazis we’re talking about - it was never going to turn out all right.
An Eerie, Immersive Experience
Paradise Lost is a gorgeous game. Its details are intriguing and varied, as the look of the game changes through the levels. There are offices tastefully appointed with dark wood and leather. There are vast empty bunkers with big, clunky retro-futuristic pipes and switches. And then there’s the secret city, beautifully sculpted and glowing with eerie lights.
Paradise Lost is a gorgeous game.
The audio enhances the immersive feeling of the game. The silences feel long and profound, but in practice they’re punctuated by clunks, thumps, and mechanical hisses as you travel. A lot of weight falls on the dialogue between the overwhelmed Szymon and the mysterious female voice called “Ewa.” The voice acting is strong, compelling the player to invest emotionally in their relationship despite Ewa’s mysterious and sometimes unsettling character.
A Game of Mystery and Exploration
The look of the Nazi bunkers is somewhat reminiscent of the Wolfenstein series, and the theme of exploring ruined city and figuring out what went wrong may remind you of Bioshock. However, Paradise Lost is not an action game. There’s no combat, and little physical danger.
Paradise Lost is a game of exploration, storytelling, and the relationship between two people who only interact over the radio.
It’s also not a fast-paced game. You travel at the walking speed of a 12-year-old boy, and one who is in no particular hurry, at that. This gives you plenty of time to gawk at the spectacular scenes and to take in the many visual cues the game provides. For example, the details of what happened to the Polish rebels are told partly through recordings, letters, and memos, but partly through the details of their environment - makeshift bedding, children’s toys, and hidden or destroyed technology.
There’s not a great deal of variation in your actions, either. You open doors and drawers, flip switches, examine objects - it’s all pretty straightforward, and generally there’s only one thing you can do with a given object. However, there is still enough activity to remind you that you’re playing a game, not watching a movie. There are regular puzzles you have to solve to access the next area.
An Excellent New Entry in the Storytelling Game Genre
Paradise Lost is a game of exploration, storytelling, and the relationship between two people who only interact over the radio. Like Firewatch, Paradise Lost in a mystery/exploration game in which you have only a single, tenuous human contact. In its youthful protagonist and dark tone, it’s perhaps a bit more reminiscent of What Remains of Edith Finch. If you enjoy this sort of immersive story game, you’re very likely to enjoy diving into the mysteries of Paradise Lost.