Finding Paradise — 4/5 Stars
Finding Paradiseis an indie, narrative-adventure game developed by Freebird Games. Finding Paradiseis a sequel to the critically acclaimed game, To the Moon. The story follows Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts in their unique profession: going into the minds of dying people and altering their memories to fulfill wishes and give them a satisfying conclusion to their life.
Gameplay in Finding Paradise consists mainly of exploration and a few small puzzles. This simplicity keeps the focus on progressing the story. Finding Paradise is made in a 2D, 16-bit game engine evocative of retro roleplaying games. The visual design transcends this modest aesthetic with beautifully rendered pixel art and impressively detailed sprite animations. The realistic sound design helps to immerse the player in the scene. Finding Paradise also features an original soundtrack of moving music that underlines the poignancy of each emotional scene.
Finding Paradise is, at its core, a short story being told through the medium of video games. As Drs. Rosalene and Watts traverse the memories of their patient, an elderly man named Colin, a compelling mystery unfolds. If someone has lived a relatively happy life, what, if anything, could be done to improve it? Could life be enhanced by eliminating regrets? Could altering a key moment change their entire life? Or is tampering with a well-lived life the right thing to do in the first place? The story becomes a beautiful and thoughtful exploration of how our life and identity are shaped by our past and all the small choices we make.
The characters are immediately engaging and distinct. The compelling story provides an opportunity to take a deep dive into the whole life of a person and see the world through their eyes. With this deep narrative, you will feel as if you have gotten to know another person by the end of the game.
With Finding Paradise’s focus on life and regret, I was reminded of Isaiah 43:18, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (NIV). While every life will have some regrets, there isn’t much to be gained from dwelling on them. It’s impossible to become who we are today without what has happened to us in the past, both good and bad.
The charming humor of To the Moon also continues in Finding Paradise, providing a breath of fresh air in a story grappling with the struggles of the human experience.
In conclusion, Finding Paradise is both an excellent game and an emotional story that touches on important questions of the human experience. Finding Paradise is a celebration of life and the beauty of living both the good times and the challenging times.
Chris Clark | Portland | Northern New England