by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Rejuvenating the genre
I've been a fan of point and click adventure games since the days of Sierra and LucasArts building their empires through the genre. The rejuvenation of the genre through the Telltale releases has definitely brought a smile to my face. Titles such as Sam and Max also gave me a sense of nostalgia. The developer of Paradigm (a one man team) seems to have similar recollections of those past classics, as there are many aspects of Paradigm that seem to stem straight from those games.
Paradigm is set in a post-apocalyptic era where designer babies are possible. Unfortunately, not all come out as designed, and the proof is with our deformed hero, Paradigm. He isn’t too concerned though, and indeed has a wonderful outlook on life. He has found solace in creating electronic music with which he wants to share with the world. Without giving too much of the plot away, Paradigm’s world is in danger though, of ultimate destruction, and Paradigm has taken upon himself to become the ultimate hero.
Heroes come in many forms
On his way to become the saviour of the world, Paradigm meets some strange, amusing and memorable characters along the way. A beat-boxing eggplant, a sloth with a Donald Trump-like hairpiece and a glam metal cult leader pug are just a few of the characters that will play a part in the comedic story that Paradigm presents.
It is fairly clear from the outset that LucasArts titles such as Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island have been inspirations behind Paradigm. There are a number of clear references and from those games as well as many others. If you were a fan of insult sword fighting from Monkey Island, then you'll enjoy the Paradigm version. The humour throughout the game is also reminiscent of the LucasArts titles too, giving gamers a chance to chuckle along whilst playing. There are gaming clichés, pop-culture references and even some groan-worthy dad jokes, but they all work well in keeping the tone of the game comical.
The puzzles themselves are generally fairly straightforward. As is the case with most point and click adventures, if you can pick something up, it will generally come in handy somewhere along the line. The puzzles are quite linear, generally requiring gamers to complete one puzzle before moving on to the next. Inventory control is well done in Paradigm. Picking up items immediately places them into inventory where they can then be used to aid in solving an immediate puzzle or combined with other items to make new objects. Although the puzzles are generally fairly simple - especially for an experienced point and click adventure gamer (a hint system is included if you’re having trouble though), they are quite varied too. As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of a version of Monkey Island’s insult sword fighting (known as Boosting Thugs) ensures that it is not just a matter of combining objects together for the entire game.
Moving throughout the different locations has been made simple too once that location has been unlocked. A mini-map allows gamers to quickly get from one location to another. There isn’t a lot of walking back and forth between locations, though which is always a bonus in point and click adventure games. The settings and visuals are somewhat 1990’s old school for the most part, but have also been interspersed with some retro pixel art visuals in the mini games. The characters and location are somewhat surreal and give the game a not-so-serious undertone.
For a game developed by one person, I was rather impressed by the fact that all the dialogue in Paradigm is fully voiced. From the Eastern European accent of Paradigm himself, to the somewhat out-of-place-in-a-Russian-wasteland Aussie and British accents of characters in Paradigm’s homeland of Krusz. Many of the characters have over-the-top accents, but it continues the humorous tone of the dialogue.
Nostalgic, with a hint of freshness
While playing Paradigm, I was having recollections of playing some of my favourite games of yesteryear. The surreal, yet hilarious characters could definitely become memorable pop-culture icons if this was made by a Triple-A development team with their huge marketing budgets. Paradigm does so many of the things that the golden era of point and click adventures did so well and makes it a worthwhile addition to the genre. The puzzles, the humorous storyline and characters, the fully voiced dialogue, the wonderful, somewhat retro visuals all combine to make Paradigm a modern day classic of its own. I sincerely hope that developer Jacob Janerka sees fit to produce a follow up title.
Hilarious, fully voiced dialogue
Puzzles are on the easy side