You'd think Valentine's Day would be a time for Angelique, but Yue and Vergil apparently got asked 10,000 questions each, so let's talk about a different type of love: that which Paradise Killer inspires.

Honestly, I could just post screenshots and say, "Just look at this thing":

It is the most aggressively Aesthetic I have ever seen a game be. It has no time for half-measures in any facet of its presentation, from visuals to story. Everything is constantly over the top from the very jump, right from our introduction of our protagonist:

Yes, her name is "Lady Love Dies." There is no interest in subtlety or timidity here. The game is very much what everything and one says on their tins. So you're very quickly thrown into the deep end of a pool where a woman with a goat head named "Crimson Acid" striking a Jojo pose (everyone's striking a Jojo pose) is casually spouting dialogue like:

Or where Doctor Doom Jazz informs you of the travails of one of his recent patients, Witness to the End:

Or where Sam Day Break regales you on his personal distillation efforts:

Here's the skeleton's backstory, by the way:

Or perhaps you'd like to learn about one of the local deities and her efforts in celestial architecture?

Or speak with a vengeful spectre:

That design is pure giallo fire, by the way.

The plot, if you must know: in an extradimensional vaporwave paradise, a cadre of devotees plot to revive the old gods from beyond the cosmos. (It's been noted that Paradise Killer and World of Horror are kind of inverse games.) Unfortunately, these efforts have also attracted demons from the far reaches of space, corrupting their stronghold and necessitating its periodic rebirth. On the eve of the 25th Island Sequence, leader Monserrat Breaker and his entire Council is murdered, so the investigator Lady Love Dies - previously convicted for being seduced by the god Damned Harmony - is called back from exile in the Idle Lands to find the perpetrator. Mystery, intrigue, and interrogations ensue.

But I don't need to speak for Paradise Killer, as it can speak pretty well for itself. The game is best exhibited through examples of things I love. Like skeleton-wife and titan-killer Lydia Day Break's ombre hair:

Or the descriptions that pop up every time you collect a soundtrack tape:

Or the music itself, Holy Christmas:

Or the drinks you get from the vending machines. The designers stated in their artbook that they for some reason wanted the items to have the resolution of Dreamcast graphics, and while I question that decision, the drinks are still great:

Of course, you have your references:

Kill the thirst, jump over the beverage.

The next Red Bull marketing campaign.


There's also the interface:

Then there's the writing, from the character dialogue and item descriptions:

To the little incidental flavor text:

(Some have tsk-tsked the punctuation typos in the very voluminous script, calling the writing consequently bad. This reminds me of an interview of a guest on a Project Runway episode where the challenge was to design a dress for a drag queen, with the winning contestant creating a spectacular piece that made the model look like she were engulfed in fire. The persnickety interviewers, who were none too fond of this designer, complained that they had "concerns about the hem" and it being sewn incorrectly. The drag queen retorted that she wasn't looking at the hem, she was looking at the giant freakin' flames coming out of the model's head.)


Now, as this is going to be my primary post on Paradise Killer, there are a couple issues I should in fairness note. One, to make the island dense, the designers made it (purposefully) difficult to travel from point A to B line-of-sight - there will be a lot of obstacles and maze-like passages in your way to send you elsewhere. At first, I didn't mind being diverted, as there's cool stuff to discover everywhere, but as the mystery draws itself together and you find needing to visit specific places and people to tie up loose ends, it gets frustrating. There's a fast-travel system, but it costs money both to unlock and use, and you're reluctant to do so in the early going, when money is scarce and seemingly has better uses. It saves a lot of frustration in that endgame, though, so: if you play this, unlock every fast-travel point you encounter, even if you think it's a waste of your limited Blood Crystals (the currency of Paradise Killer - of course). The money issue will resolve itself in the medium term.

Two, as you talk to the people on the island and unravel goings-on, you learn just how much of this apparently-perfect paradise is unraveling: most of the immortal players of the Syndicate have grown weary of their roles for various reasons or doubtful of their mission. The gods they're trying to revive do nothing but deceive and kill their subjects and each other. (The one god you meet is an impotent dotard who laughs at the implosion of his allegedly-loyal cultists like Statler and Waldorf.) There's also the little matter of the regular kidnapping and slaughter of randos from the real world to fuel the gods' eventual rebirth. You can choose dialogue options that have Love Dies awaken to the implications, and various characters talk about how maybe the entire system needs to go. The ending doesn't deliver on the promise of any of this, though. Future games, I suppose.


Enough of that, though: the mystery is layered and satisfying, the world is like nothing else out there, and even the farewells from character to character are casually epic:

May your spectre gaze upon a star.
May the cosmos be a mystery.
May your journey be endless.
May you fly with Destroyed Eden.
May you always live in the shadow.
May your night be bright.
May you see with a million eyes.
May the Silent Goat walk with you.

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