Finding Paradise in the test - small game, big feelings
What if we could change our lives? Undo a wrong decision or take advantage of a missed opportunity? Everyone knows the feeling of regretting something and the associated desire to get it right.
Everything as before
Already the beginning is a single allusion to the events in To The Moon: Again we skid towards a squirrel in our car, but just manage to dodge elegantly. This time it's not the chaotic Neil Watts at the wheel, but his level-headed colleague Eva Rosalene. We slip back into the role of the unequal pair of scientists, which for the Sigmund Group penetrates the memories of the dying to fulfill wishes.
But everything does not stay the same. Finding Paradise is clearly trying to breathe new life into the well-known story. While Johnny wanted to fly to the moon in To The Moon, the former pilot Colin has no specific wish . He just wants us to make him happy without changing anything in his life.
Unfortunately, something is wrong with our machine. Instead of continuing to travel back in time as usual, we seem to jump indiscriminately through fragments of memory. Sometimes we end up in childhood, sometimes in old age. This makes it doubly difficult to see a common thread in the memories that will help us to fulfill the last wish.
A story from life
Despite similar components, the story develops differently than in To The Moon. Of course we don't want to spoil anything, but it's just like in reality: Even if two lives are similar because you go to school, study, work, find your love or purpose, the details make the difference. You make us unique.
It is the same here. We laugh, cry, sympathize and in the end also think about our life. We follow Colin's path, see how he meets his wife, takes his first flight lessons or goes to the playground with his son, but we recognize ourselves in it. Finding Paradise tells its very own, profound story , which is everyday, but by no means trivial.
To The Moon and Finding Paradise are parables on life that bring their very own ideas and solutions and that is precisely why we touch them. Towards the end, Finding Paradise also has a twist that is far less predictable than in To The Moon. And not only in the narrative, the Adventure also has some nice surprises in store.
First, Finding Paradise controls itself like a classic point and click adventure. As in the previous one, we can interact with people and objects by selecting them with the mouse. We also control our figure this way or with the arrow keys. The basic game mechanics remain very simple throughout. While we explore areas and collect information, we never have to solve complex puzzles or combine items.
However, individual game elements repeatedly break the scheme. In the memories we search for memory links as in the predecessor. So to speak, individual important moments that we then translate into a memento. Such a memento can be anything from a soft toy to a cello and helps us to travel further and further through the life of the patient.
To activate mementos, we have to solve small puzzles again, which are a little more varied than in the predecessor. The principle always remains the same: We try to line up three symbols and move them until it works. Blockades or diversions are added later. As the game progresses, the puzzles become increasingly tricky, but never too demanding.
Between planet fishing and great feelings
The allusions to other genres are a playful highlight. While the minimalist character editor is only good for one laugh at the beginning, we can later even play small passages that could have been taken from a turn-based role-playing game, an arcade shooter or a spanking game. They not only provide variety, but also perfectly capture the weird humor of the game. Even if the story sounds serious and thoughtful, Finding Paradise is never a pity for an (absurd) joke.
When Watts accidentally picks up Neptune from the sky with a grappling hook and then we attend an emotional moment from Colin's life, it sounds silly at first. Because characters and story are so close to us, it never will.
The fact that we love the characters so much is also due to the animations. Despite the minimalistic pixel graphics, the little figures roll their eyes, laugh out loud or burst into tears. The surrounding area is also full of such lovely details as photo albums or cute plush toys.
Compared to its predecessor, the world looks happier and more varied because we can also visit more unusual places such as an aquarium or a blossoming mountain landscape. Finding Paradise gets as much as possible out of the somewhat uniform RPG maker style.
For Finding Paradise weakens in the game mechanics. There would have been more in here than the predecessor. Especially when we are exploring and looking for memory links, it feels strangely lengthy, even though the story part flies by. Nevertheless, you should take the around six hours. Because Finding Paradise offers an emotional experience even without a lot of play, which you won't soon forget.