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When the segue to the beginning of a game involves free-falling off an island after 3 million days of exile, you know it’s got to be good. At first glance, it seemed like an entrancing vaporwave world with some quirky characters, but the world of Paradise Killer is much more than that, and is jam-packed with surprises and spectacle at every corner.

Developed by Kaizen Works and published by Fellow Traveler, Paradise Killer is an interesting take on the mystery-adventure genre. At first glance, I thought this would be your standard Phoenix Wright-like case crackdown, but it soon became my go-to for a late-night gaming session, basking in the vaporwave glow of Paradise.


Breathe Life Back Into Paradise

The island of paradise is in fact, far from an ideal utopia, and is rather the 24th iteration of a perfect island – aptly named Paradise 24. The creators of this utopia are the Syndicate, an elite cult with the goal of resurrecting the gods of old – a feat that has failed 24 times. Each failure has resulted in the creation of a new island, thus renewing the cycle.

Of course, there’s bound to be trouble in Paradise. This is where the player steps in as Lady Love Dies, an “investigation freak” who’s been sentenced to exile on a remote island. After the high-ruling officials of the Syndicate are murdered, it’s up to her to catch the culprit. Accompanying her is Starlight, the portable computer-assistant that will greatly aid you in your quest for the truth. 

The person to call upon her presence is The Judge, a member of the Syndicate said to be the embodiment of justice.  As you traverse through the island’s environments, you’ll meet the remaining members of the Syndicate. Whether they come across as friend or foe, it’s up to Lady Love Dies to interrogate them as a potential candidate for murder, and uncover the dirty secrets of Paradise.


The premise of the game was rather over-the-top at first with its prologue narrative fleshing out the world we’re thrown into. It’s quite a bit to process as a murderous cult that was formed to resurrect dead aliens gods is not something you hear of every day. Scattered throughout the overworld are relics, which upon collection unveil a piece of the bigger picture of the lore of Paradise Killer, while not necessarily adding to your investigation.

For me, once I got a good grasp of the story, I was terribly invested in its lore and how exactly this island oozing with style came about to be what it is now. Moreover, while keeping in mind that they were all prospective killers, the flamboyant characters had drawn me in. Where else will you find an ex-assassin skeleton bartender that withered away to bones while confessing his undying love? Or for that matter, a doctor named Doom Jazz?

Something I found interesting but might pose as a point of disinterest for hardcore mystery fans is the lack of a “true” ending. Given that you’ve gathered enough evidence, you can accuse anyone as the killer, thereby allowing for multiple endings throughout the game. This encourages multiple replays of the game but might seem disappointing for purists.

The Investigator is Here

I’ll admit, at the beginning, I was a bit skeptical of an open-world mystery game, but as I continued to play I realized that the open-world aspect makes complete sense. The vast sense of exploration in the world of Paradise Killer can seem a bit overwhelming when it’s first presented to you, but this freedom is what truly makes it feel like a proper investigation, making it all the more rewarding when you crack the case.

Much like in real life, most of the characters will refuse to answer your questions, and will even be downright offended. This is where the game’s currency, blood crystals, comes in handy. They can be found in all sorts of nooks and crannies of the overworld, but they’re a commodity to be used judiciously. Blood crystals can be used for an assortment of things such as upgrading Starlight, buying secrets from the best (and only) in the business – Crimson Acid, or even buying a quick drink at a vending machine. 

paradise killer

Another thing blood crystals are used for is fast travel, but the way fast travel is implemented in the game is rather counterintuitive. Once you reach a save point for an area, you can choose to activate it as a fast travel point by using one blood crystal. At first, I assumed this meant I could somehow teleport to the save point using the map and thought that one blood crystal seemed like a fair exchange. It was only after unlocking the fast travel point did I realize that this meant I could travel to an area I had already visited provided I unlocked fast travel there, and that too at the cost of another blood crystal.

This brings me to my other main gripe, and that is the map itself. For an open-world game, there’s not a lot of detail that’s gone into the accessibility of the map. It’s rather tiny and has no means to zoom into areas. I would have also appreciated the ability to add custom markers, making the journey more streamlined.

Speaking of accessibility, a major plus, however, is that the game provides a large number of options to adjust the settings to fit one’s needs, even featuring an adjustment in font to take players with dyslexia into account. It’s definitely a step that a lot more games should take to accommodate gamers from all walks of life.

Vaporwave Bliss

Featuring a sparkling ocean that stretches as far as the camera can see, lush palm trees, and architecture that looks exquisite, the island of Paradise is visually worthy of the name bestowed upon it. The addition of day and night cycles further enhances the immersion, with even celestial lights being visible during the evening. There were many times where I’d take a break from hunting down clues just to take in the surroundings.

paradise killer

The soundtrack –  I cannot sing enough praises about the soundtrack. In fact, befitting of its city pop vibes, it definitely needs a release on vinyl. A pretty interesting way the game introduces new tracks is by having the player collect them through various loudspeakers and have them be added to Starlight’s databases. You can then scroll through the tracks as you would on a normal music player through the d-pad, and even put them on shuffle. 

My only complaint here would be on the fact that several different fonts are used throughout the game with several variations on spacing and size, making it quite the eyesore at times. Text will sometimes be too close to the borders of the screen or too compact for space it’s trying to fit. It’s certainly not a major concern, but the poor UI design can make the interface feel terribly cluttered.

Real Talk

In a genre that is dominated by classics such as Ace Attorney and L.A Noire, Paradise Killer brings something innovative to the table. Its vast tropical island, synths, and charismatic cast are what make the experience memorable, making it a real hidden gem in the sea of murder-mysteries.

1 comment
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