Paradise Review (PC)

From publisher Ubisoft and Developer White Birds Productions, the game Paradise seems to be anything but paradisaical.  If you like the old school style of point and click  adventure gaming you may very well find Paradise enjoyable, but even for those that enjoy such a style of game the whole of the game wanders on for far too long and by the end it's hard to remember where the beginning began.

Yes, even in fictional Africa we need satellite TV Who doesn't want a bedroom in shades of red?

The setting of the game is in a fictional Africa nation called Maurania.  Admittedly Maurania is beautiful but, like most small fictional nations is under a great deal of internal political stress.  You play the estranged daughter of King Rodon, the boss in Maurania, but one that is facing rebels that are taking up arms to end his reign.  You've come to see him because rumor has it that he has taken ill on top of the problems of the kingdom.  The problem with this task is that as you are flying in your plane is shot down and you are injured in the resulting crash.  You wake to find yourself in the harem of an Arabic prince, without memory of who you are, or exactly where you're supposed to go from here.

This situation sets up the major points of the story.  The first concern being to discover who you really are and, then, as you know your own identity find your father before it's too late.  Towards this end you decide to name yourself Ann based on a book you're carrying and enlist the help of the Prince of Madargane, you are staying in his harem after all.  His help comes in the form of assigning you a  black leopard to escort home, hoping you will find yourself along the way.  This all puts you on the beginning of a four part journey to find your father and yourself. 

Take a good look at the lighting here
Even the local eatery leaves no detail out

It's not a terrible story, and you do get to go some interesting places and see interesting things, but the pacing is a killer and many of the puzzles don't seem to follow a logical clue flow.  Sometimes after a lot of work for a first part of the puzzle the rest is almost handed right to you, and other times you slog through the whole thing for a minor gain.  There could have been a better balance worked into this aspect of the game, keeping it more lively and keeping the player engaged.

The environmental and background graphics are, by far, the game's strongest point.  It's honestly breathtaking at times and the flow rate from scene to scene is generally good.  The models for Ann and the other characters suffer from a lack of details that I would have liked to see match that of the world around them.  At a few points you will find Ann several steps behind where you've clicked and once or twice she almost seemed to be floating, but those problems seem more connected to the controls themselves rather than the graphical aspects of the thing.  It is very pretty to look at.

I wasn't blown away by the quality of the sound, but nor was it conspicuously bad.  The voice actors did a credible job, with a few stand out performances that usually were tied to minor characters, which there are an abundance of.  Musically there was a nice theme song for each of the four major areas.  The only problem with this was that the nice theme kept repeating over and over again as long as you were in the area with little variation.  Sorta like standing in line for and then riding 'It's a Small World'.

The gameplay of Paradise is fair, but nothing that will impress.  A typical point and click third person style interface, with plenty of pixel hunting and manipulating of levers, dials, switches, etc.  As mentioned, some of the puzzles seem inane in finding the first piece and then too easy thereafter.  As you mouse over an area the cursor animations will change and I often found this more of a pain than fun as, by the time the animation had changed, I'd already moved onto the next item and had to backtrack and slow down to go through the room again.

Yeah, walk right down that way and don't get the creeps Swiss Family Robinson, eat your hearts out

All in all the impression is that it's an okay game, I wasn't screaming to have my time and money back, but not one that I'll replay multiple times.  I guess you can only be an African Princess once in a lifetime, though that may be enough for anyone.

Top Gaming Moment:
  I really did have a good time just wandering around the environment.  The attention to detail in the scene work is absolutely gorgeous!