(This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own discretion.)
‘Finding Paradise’ is a sequel to ‘To the Moon’ and ‘A Bird’s Story’. It features our beloved Sigmund Corp. doctors, Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, as they help fellow patient, Colin Reeds, fulfil his dream of a perfect life by righting his wrongs and erasing his regrets. But things go awry right off the bat when Colin’s subconscious constantly launches them back and forth from elderly to childhood instead of in gradual backwards steps. And then there’s his overactive imagination to take into account.
I genuinely am blow away by this game. It’s been one of my most highly anticipated games since Freebird Games released its breakthrough game and, boy, was it worth the wait.
One of my favourite things about this game, same with ‘To the Moon’, is the juxtaposing narrative and how they complement each other. Add to this the meshing of the two games to create this beautiful baby. We see things from the doctor’s perspective. We interact with other characters through them. But we learn of the patient’s story—their life, family and dark side—as we go along, even if we can’t fully interact with them. The doctors’ dialogue and actions, ultimately, all revolve around their patients because that is what they’re there for in the first place. It’s got a different feel from ‘To the Moon’ in that that we don’t see how things came to be as easily because nothing is told in chronological order. It’s up to us to figure out the mystery for ourselves.
As I’ve said in my ‘To the Moon’ review, the concept of ‘memory traversal’ and granting someone’s dying wish that way is an intriguing and original concept, but assuming that players have played the previous games, it now adds familiarity to the series. This was both a relief and concern of mine. Whilst I greatly enjoyed this concept the first time around, I thought, if they were to do it the same way again, it would be repetitive and underwhelm the experience for me. The twist they put in the memory aspect provides a fresh take for the players without having them feel too lost. We learn that Colin is the boy, one of two characters, in ‘A Bird Story’ and that we’ve focused on a small but important part of his childhood then. In ‘Finding Paradise’, we learn of the whole story—what became of the bird, why the cards fell the way they do and how Colin has moved on since.
But because they had to make this game stand out from its predecessor, they had to explore unchartered territories. That includes doing things that are way out of left field, even for an indie game as creative as this. There were some bits in the story and overall gameplay that didn’t sit right with me the first time, mostly because it was so unexpected and bizarre that I didn’t know what to think. Outsider’s perspective, such as other Sigmund Corp. doctors, became crucial to the game as not only do their input become Eva and Neil’s saving grace from the main ‘villain’, their presence hints at yet another sequel.
That last bit I’m not complaining about.
I love the zany creativity that goes into the storyline as well. Though not necessarily plot relevant, they add a bit of surprise and a whole lot of humour with their pop culture references, jokes alluding to the previous games, as well as banter between Eva and Neil. I felt that they had way more fun with it this time around and I wasn’t about to complain. In between Colin’s angst and the whole seriousness of his situation, it was nice to have a laugh every now and again. Here are some screenshots presented with no context:
Like the previous games, again, I cannot praise its soundtrack and sound design enough. For a game made on an RPG maker and with zero voice acting, these two things really pull the whole thing together. Everything is fairly subtle but effective when it comes to delivering emotions in certain scenes. It adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.
What I wanted to see more in this game, though, was Neil. ‘To the Moon’ hinted at a drug addiction. ‘Finding Paradise’ blatantly showed him tampering with work equipment and using unauthorised machines to do his job. All of this he did behind people’s backs, but he’s sloppy and does a terrible job at hiding them. I just really, really want to know what he’s up to. And when we do find out, I just hope that the results won’t disappoint me.
‘Finding Paradise’ is an heartwarming game about imagination, love, and accepting your shortcomings and life the way it is. The characters are, again, well-realised and complex with a strong storyline that remains so throughout. Whilst it’s simple and straightforward, it will also leave players with a sense of bittersweetness and have you appreciate life just a bit more. It might also leave you in tears as it did with me.
If you’ve made it this far into my post, thank you for reading! Have you played this game before? If so, what did you think? If not, would you do it? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post.
Until next time,
(Side image taken from Wikipedia. Screenshots are taken by me and repurposed specifically for this review only)