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Review

After the Second World War lasted here 20 years longer, Europe lies in the rubble of the merciless German nuclear attacks. From the first-person perspective, you assume the role of twelve-year-old Szymon, who finds himself searching for his mother and a mysterious man in a photograph. Upon arrival in the underground city, the high caves and huge ma...

Paradise Lost

  • Samanta Blumberg
  • Jul 02, 2021

After the Second World War lasted here 20 years longer, Europe lies in the rubble of the merciless German nuclear attacks. From the first-person perspective, you assume the role of twelve-year-old Szymon, who finds himself searching for his mother and a mysterious man in a photograph. Upon arrival in the underground city, the high caves and huge machinery seem completely deserted at first.

But soon you make contact with a mysterious girl named Ewa with the help of advanced communication terminals. Can you trust her? Does she have connections to Polish rebels who took over the plant at some point, but who also seems to be missing in the meantime? Even more surprising, however, is the enormous progress that has been made in the underground bunker empire.

As early as the sixties, they cracked problems that even today's researchers are still gnashing their teeth over. All this, of course, without regard for losses and including numerous atrocities in the spirit of the inhuman racist ideology, as can be seen again and again in the research documents. At first, the technical implementation of these achievements seems as ridiculous as Stoll's ramblings or in the film comedy Iron Sky. This is especially true because the story primarily wants to convey more serious themes like family drama - including flashbacks with memories of the mother.

Once I was immersed in the subject matter, however, the mysteries behind the monstrous machinery, computer terminals, resistance battles, and Ewa still piqued my interest - at least to some extent. Visually, all of this is ultimately staged very atmospherically. The gigantic rocket yards, retro-futuristic terminals, and mystically decorated caves offer a magnificent and detailed view, especially on the PC with ultra settings. Slavic mythology also plays a role in paintings and the religious tendencies of the resistance.

All of this sounds exciting in theory but is blandly staged apart from the pretty scenery. The biggest sticking point is the lack of personality in Szymon and Ewa: Even after playing for a good four hours, you know next to nothing about them - apart from character traits imposed on them by the concrete plot. With their flat dialogs, they simply seem interchangeable and apathetic. Sure: a good portion of skepticism and callousness seems authentic in such a post-apocalyptic contact underground. 

Conclusion

Paradise Lost vividly shows why an interesting theme and a respectable backdrop can't replace good character drawing or real game mechanics. The richly detailed sixties Nazi city full of nuclear weapons and insane technology certainly has its charm - and very pretty panoramas. However, the main characters, Ewa and Szymon, remain practically blank slates until the end, with no personality traits worth mentioning. Therefore, their connection to the twisty events in the resistance struggle was of little interest, especially since the developers opted for a sluggish narrative style. In established media such as film or computer games, capable directors are now quite skilled at bringing exciting or moving moments to the fore. This walk-through narrative adventure, however, often gets bogged down in terribly slow walks and pointless imitation of game mechanics with hooky button-mashing.

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