Paradise Lost: Dead Earth's Last Tale

Throughout the development process, the interactive story of Paradise Lost from the Polish studio PolyAmorous, which takes place in an alternate reality where World War II did not end in 1945, looked very intriguing, thanks to the stylish cutscenes that reveal the details of the game. Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions to the release version that you won’t be able to find answers to in the game itself.

Genre interactive story
Platforms Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Languages English Russian
Developer Polyamorous
Publisher All In! Games
Websites Steam

The point of divergence of reality in Paradise Lost is in 1940. After the occupation of Poland and France, the Nazis abandoned their plans to attack the British Isles and confront the USSR. Instead, Germany concentrated its forces in the African theater of operations, which allowed them, together with their allies, to move deep into the continent, reaching the rich deposits of the Katanga plateau. Access to resources, primarily African uranium, allowed Germany to spur research on nuclear weapons and missile technology. Feeling the strength, Hitler finally decided to go to war with the USSR. The invasion began on May 1, 1943, and “again” caught Stalin by surprise. “This time” the Germans advanced further and even took Moscow, but again they got stuck in mud and snow. The war entered a protracted phase, during which no one gained a decisive advantage: Germany could not advance further east; The USSR, without the support of the United States, which did not interfere in the war, could not reclaim its own territories; Germany did not dare to use nuclear weapons. The exhausting confrontation dragged on until 1955, when a German submarine accidentally sank an American passenger liner, forcing the United States to intervene in the conflict that had already bored everyone.

The second phase of the war began in 1958 with an attack on the African theater of operations, during which Germany was cut off from resources. In 1960, 16 years later than in our reality, the Allies landed in Normandy, and the USSR launched a coordinated attack on the Eastern Front, quickly reaching the borders of Poland. In reality, Paradise Lost, the Fuhrer did not wait for the end, and by ordering specially selected German citizens to descend into pre-prepared shelters, he began an atomic holocaust, launching tactical V3 missiles with nuclear warheads at armies fighting on both fronts. Europe has become an icy radioactive desert. It is not known whether life at all remained anywhere else on Earth. Shortly before the nuclear attack, Polish resistance fighters were able to get inside one of the German bunkers. The underground war began simultaneously with the explosions of bombs on the surface.

In 1980, 20 years after the fall of the bombs, a 12-year-old Polish boy walks up to the open door of a Nazi anti-nuclear shelter, covered by snow. He is looking for someone who can hide in the depths of the bunker, and he just has nowhere else to go. This is how Paradise Lost begins – the last story of the dead Earth.

An impressive and very intriguing introduction, isn’t it? The problem is that it is not in Paradise Lost. Absolutely. The prehistory of the world and the game can only be found on YouTube from a video published by the developers in February 2021. The introduction that is in the game itself is extremely uninformative and does not explain anything at all. Yes, partly this is a deliberate move by the developers in order to maintain at least some semblance of intrigue, but … it does not work. It’s just that the story itself, told in the game, turns out to be incomplete and extremely crumpled. But adding a slightly modified video, placed above, even if not at the start of the game, but somewhere in the middle, would be so easy …

In general, there are big problems with the narrative part in Paradise Lost. But this is an interactive story, where everything is tied to the plot, where everything is the plot. The story, as in other similar games, is presented in the form of text documents, audiologists and computer recordings. Alas, in the case of Paradise Lost, all these documents do not allow us to get a complete picture, there are a lot of gaps in it. Yes, this is done on purpose to leave room for the imagination of the player filling in the blanks, but … Honestly, I would like to know more about the fate of the original population of the bunker; about survival for many years in conditions of a lack of resources with an idle control computer and partial destruction of critical systems; about Nazi experiments and their victims; about the conflict among the settlers of the “second wave”; about too sharp and frankly illogical bias towards the ancient Slavic religion (this is in extremely Catholic Poland, or what?). Etc. A lot of questions, the answers to which are simply not in the game. It seems that the authors deliberately cut off the narrative, turn over, or even tear out part of the pages, and jump to the next part of the story. What for?

The second component of any self-respecting interactive history raises no less questions – interactivity itself. Paradise Lost is a traditional walking simulator in which walking, extremely, very leisurely walking (it seems, this was done on purpose to delay the passage) makes up 99% of the entire gameplay. There are very few moments in which you need to press buttons and levers, and you will not have to look for these interactive elements – they are always in the most prominent place. There are also few documents and audio recordings. Moments in which you need to look for some object, and then apply it, throughout the game … five. And again, all of them are artless, straightforward and by and large, inserted, it seems, only so that the game formally present at least some kind of interactivity.

Paradise Lost is a completely linear and predictable game. Even if, in the dialogues, yes, in the end (surprise! Surprise!) An interlocutor appears, you have the opportunity to choose one of the two lines, in the end they will lead to the same ending, and you still cannot get out of the corridor laid underground. will succeed. The only serious choice, more precisely, two related choices at once, you will be allowed to make only at the very end. But in order to see all the options, you will need to go through the game several times, there is no saving before the fateful decision. Yes, and what you will see in the final becomes obvious after the first half hour of the game. The authors fail to keep the intrigue.

As for the graphical part, it is surprisingly good. The Unreal engine shows itself from its best side, and the absence of animated models and people (there are not even dead bodies), allows you to concentrate on the environment and details. And while the massive, crushing imperial style, unnecessary chic and pomp look in an underground shelter just ridiculous, Paradise Lost looks good overall. The game would probably perform well in VR, but so far there is no support for virtual reality. The only complaint that can be made is the animation of the main character. Although we only see the boy’s arms and sometimes legs, they move somehow awkwardly.

In general, Paradise Lost recalls another recent project – Close to the Sun from the Italian studio Storm in a Teacup. Here is a high-tech Nazi bunker, there is a colossal ship built by a mad scientist. Imperial Empire here, Art Deco there. In both cases, everything ended very badly for the “residents” of the shelters. Again, a lonely hero; a voice leading him through gloomy empty corridors; interesting setting, rich surroundings and a minimum of interactive elements. True, in Close to the Sun there were also horror and action scenes, which are not in Paradise Lost. And yet these games are united by the feeling of a mass of missed opportunities. Add the authors of at least a little gameplay, fill in the gaps in the story, everything could be different.

Until March 31, Paradise Lost can be purchased on Steam for only UAH 151. (the total cost is UAH 229), and this price allows you to put up with all the shortcomings of this project a little. So either hurry up now or wait for the next sale.

PS Paradise Lost is the case when the cutscenes in the development process look more interesting than the game itself. Compare the release trailer above to the 2020 video or the backstory posted at the beginning of the article.

Pros:
Interesting setting; generally good graphics; soundtrack; videos released before the release of the game

Minuses:
All stories in Paradise Lost look ragged and slurred; there are a lot of questions to the logic of what is happening; the game has very few interactive elements and lacks corny gameplay; extremely low speed of character movement and angular animation; absolute linearity

Output:
Paradise Lost could have been a very interesting story about war, loneliness and loss acceptance, but it didn’t. The authors simply could not tell it.

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