There are games which stick to the norm, which fit within normal conventions for storytelling, genre and general gameplay. Games which we have come to expect from large publishers year in, year out and are generally safe options. Paradigm is not one of these games. It’s a point and click adventure game which doesn’t stick to the norm. It openly laughs at it, all while taking the genre to a new level of crazy.
The eponymous hero, Paradigm, is a young musician living in a future Eastern Europe, who just wants to create electronic beats and share them with the world. He has hopes and dreams, procrastinates regularly and enjoys a good Dad joke from time to time. Sounds normal and relatable, right? Well he is also a mutated failed experiment living in a nuclear wasteland, whose best friends include a beat boxing plant and an Australian former dating sim AI. It’s weird. It is very very weird. And it only gets weirder. But this is largely what makes Paradigm great. The game, not the protagonist, he is a messed up strange dude with a web browser history that’ll make your mother cry.
It regularly turns tropes we are so accustomed to in point and click games on their head, pokes fun at traditional game design frequently and features some of best ‘out there humour’, or humour in general in a game since the last Borderlands. Regardless of how weird it gets it eases you into it with somewhat relatable themes and simple motivations to begin with, before expanding to introduce a truly out of this world cast and story.
Paradigm, although more of a subtle and easy going story than I expected, utilises every meme, theme and joke from the 80s, eastern Europe and social media culture, to create a truly diverse experience. In which you’ll play through a vast range of unique and comical scenarios. Sometimes you’ll need to beat a minigame in which you give positive reinforcement to thugs (which thankfully returns throughout the game), so a drug dealer will give you ‘Space Dust’ (DRUGS). Other times you may need to put a scientist back together whose limbs have been separated because of teleportation travel. Others you may be just hanging with your beat boxing plant pal as he drops some sick beats.
It really is a strange, wonderful adventure game which keeps the gameplay varied, interesting and always deliciously funny. Seriously, if you’ve been looking for a new game with humour, look no further than Paradigm. Its humour and constant variation to its gameplay means there is never a dull moment.
Every time I jumped back in to play I never knew what was going to happen next, which is delightfully surprising. So often with modern gaming experiences, I always know what I’m getting. With Paradigm, I had no idea and although some jokes and crazy scenarios which our mutated protagonist finds himself in didn’t always (rare occurrence that it didn’t) hit the sweet spot with me, it was just nice to be playing something in which I had no idea what to expect for once.
Half the fun of Paradigm is exploring everything in an area to discover hilarious results and dialogue. Which leads into another valuable note; the world Paradigm lives in is so fleshed out it is bonkers. Making it easy to be immersed throughout playing.
Not only will you be rewarded with puns and bizarre interactions for exploring each beautiful environment thoroughly, but like any true Point and Click game, you’ll need to return to areas to seek out items or complete new puzzles. It was always nice to know exactly where to go or what I needed from where, simply due to taking the time to stop and enjoy the memes. The puzzles themselves are as ridiculous as the world Paradigm is set in. Which at first made me think they might be too crazy to make sense and solve, but similar to the story and themes, they are grounded just enough to be logical. You do really need to immerse yourself though. Appreciate how peculiar the world is and understand the puzzles may need some peculiar methods to solve them.
Unlike most adventure games, where the story often becomes lethargic for me due to becoming frustrated at simple puzzles quickly, or getting sick of travelling back and forth between locations, I never experienced this with Paradigm.
Travelling between locations was always quick and easy. Loading times are non-existent and a majority of the time you can use fast travel. In regards to puzzles Paradigm features a hint system which can be used at any time and never made me feel stupid or outright told me the solution. It gives slight suggestions on what to do which like most things in Paradigm, are told as a joke in some degree. Plus, the hint system fits (Or Cutie Tumour Tips) into the lore of the world as you are asking your second brain/tumour, who is slightly smarter than you for advice. So it all fits into the story without being too intrusive. More importantly, I never felt dirty asking for advice, which is an accomplishment in design itself.
These features reflect a designer who has an obvious love for click and point games, in their quirkiness and smart puzzles which makes sense for the world the game resides in. But almost more importantly, a key understanding of what often holds back the genre and has taken steps to avoid them and create a funny, more immersive and better flowing experience for it.
In a time lacking fully fledged point and click adventure games, or games with truly great humour, Paradigm stands out like a talking tumour on your head. In short, its brilliant. There is plenty more I’d love to say, but I’d probably just end up spoiling some great moments for you. So just go enjoy it for yourself.
The PC version of this game was played for the purpose of this review. You can read our review policy HERE.