World War II never ended, instead an increasingly deadly conflict escalated into the annihilation of most individuals involved somewhere during the 1960s. Amongst the survivors living in the now eradicated land in Paradise Lost is a 12 year old boy, intent on finding a mystery man from a photograph his deceased mom once cherished.
Told through a first person view, Paradise Lost tells the story of a boy forced to survive in a bleak, decrepit, lonely world with only hope for answers to his mother’s past to cling to. You’ll guide the boy through underground Nazi bunkers, rail yards, offices, war rooms, villages, beaches, and more as you scour through remnants of the past. Forgotten belongings and documents left behind each serve to slowly unravel the mystery of what occurred during the war and the fates of the people involved.
While linear, this beautifully intricate world entices players to continue their journey with each step. Incredibly detailed set pieces are scattered throughout the bleak Nazi underground, a testament to the developer’s vision of a hauntingly gorgeous underground utopia that failed.
I’m a huge fan of the so called “walking sim” type games such as Gone Home and Everybody’s Gone To the Rapture. I fully embrace this new means of telling a story without the gameplay intricacies we’ve long been accustomed to expect. In Paradise Lost there are no enemies to speak of, no real puzzles to solve, and no way to lose, the game is quite simply a story of loss told in an astoundingly beautiful way.
The events you read about, listen to unfold through E.V.E. – an advanced computer system developed by the Nazis that incurs a horrible cost to operate – or discover through long discarded documents tell the story of a large group of people torn apart first by war, then by themselves. While the present day is far removed from their actions, the story remains poignant as you scour the depths for information on the mystery man in your photo.
To say more about the story would spoil the intricacies and surprises, instead I will just suggest taking your time, exploring, and reading everything you encounter. While it is possible to avoid nearly every item that explains the underground bunker’s background, to do so would be remiss and would leave the player with no satisfaction or understanding of either the bunker’s history or the depth of the choices you will eventually have to make.
Paradise Lost is slow and methodical, with the protagonist in no real hurry to get anywhere and you – as the player – should not be either. This is a game meant to be experienced as every sight, sound, and item is meticulously placed to tell the story of the world you now inhabit – It is up to the player to untangle the messy web of the past from there.
Despite its short run time of around four hours, Paradise Lost kept me engaged throughout. This is single handedly one of the best “walking sims” I have played in recent years and I was often amazed by the detail, thought, and love poured into each area and lore documents hidden throughout. Please do yourself a favor and set aside the necessary time to unravel this incredibly heartbreaking story of love, loss, pride, and greed.