You have a simple goal in life. To create the greatest electronic music EP ever, and become famous. Should be simple enough, especially for a hideously deformed mutant such as yourself. As long as you can overcome your paralysing depression and self-destructive procrastination. Oh, and stop the evil corporation out to kill you. But you will overcome these hurdles, you must. For the phat beatsies.
Paradigm is a point-and-click adventure set in a run-down, non-specific eastern European country, in the pseudo-future. Players control the character of Paradigm, and help him to navigate puzzles in his attempt to get around to creating his new EP. Unfortunately he has a failing nuclear power plant to deal with first, as well as a candy spewing sloth out for his blood.
The game play of Paradigm doesn’t divert much from the classic point-and-click staples. Players can look at, talk to, use and pick up various objects in the world. Inventory items can be combined, and used on the environment. If you are looking for a revolution in the point-and-click genre then this is not it.
However (and rather ironically), while it isn’t a revolution, it is an evolution. Developer Jacob Janerka has taken the classic point-and-click system and polished it until it shines like a diamond. The most common complaint of the genre, from past titles to modern interpretations, has always been about the puzzles. They are either too abstract, or players have trouble discerning the sequence they need to follow to achieve a solution.
Jacob has obviously thought about these common problems long and hard, and carefully crafted Paradigm so that the player never has to feel stuck. This has been achieved with a marriage of clever design and player options. Characters and environments make small, veiled references to puzzle solutions. It is the repeated use of words in different contexts which helps to highlight their importance, and guide the players thinking in a certain direction.
These are delivered in two ways. Character dialogue and location details often reveal handy clues, and are usually more than enough to propel the player to action. But if a player is stuck, they can seek more active help by activating Paradigm’s tumour. This acts as a hint system, as it provides prompts on the puzzles you should be focusing on, and how to achieve their solutions.
The care given to how the puzzle aspect is managed is nicely complemented by the absurdity and randomness of elements of the environments Paradigm experiences, and the actions players perform. Again, Jacob has obviously thought about how players interact with a point-and-click adventure, and how this can be leveraged to include content which is surprising and entertaining.
Of course, what point-and-click adventure would be complete without a cast of characters? Paradigm is littered with quirky and endearing individuals who provide an uncontrollable, anarchic streak to the game. Each character is a collection of odd tropes and cultural references, wrapped in visuals which simultaneously seem appropriate and surprising.
Visually, and aurally, Paradigm is quite an experience. The primary art style is a kind of distorted realism. But occasionally other imagery is injected into this, usually to support a non sequitur event. The music is fantastically done, and is juxtaposed by the almost juvenile performance of sound effects.
All of these details I have discussed make Paradigm really great. However, the thing that takes all this and raises it to excellence is the execution. Paradigm is funny. It is really, legitimately, laugh out loud, funny.
None of the other stuff, the attention to detail, cool characters, evolution of the genre, would mean anything if the humour fell flat. Happily this isn’t the case. Paradigm is a deconstruction of pop culture and nostalgia that promotes laughter. Which is fantastic, because at its core, this seems to be what it was conceived of to do.
Paradigm is easily one of the must play games of the year. For me, personally, it has taken a slot in my top five favourite games ever. If you are a point-and-click adventure fan, this is a no-brainer. Go purchase this now. Even those who normally don’t find much enjoyment in the genre should take a look at the game. Its accessibility and ease-of-use will mean that you get to enjoy a fantastically conceived and executed game. Whatever camp you fall into, you will have a ball experiencing the absurd world of Paradigm.
Paradigm is developed and published by Jacob Janerka, and is available now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 10 hours