“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” – John Milton
Paradise Lost is an atmospheric walking sim set in 1980 in the nuclear fallout from an alternate WWII history. Players take on the role of young Szymon as he explores an abandoned nazi bunker in search of his past.
Released: 24th March 2021
Price: £11.39 – £13.49
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
In this alternate WWII history, the war persisted for an additional 20 years, ending only when the Nazis dropped nuclear missiles on most of Europe. In 1980, it persists in a state of total destruction and deadly radiation leaving most of the continent inaccessible to the rest of the world. The protagonist Szymon, a 12-year-old boy, wanders the Polish wasteland after the death of his mother only to find a giant and seemingly abandoned Nazi bunker.
Szymon is on a search for a man seen in a photo with his late mother but as he descends further into the cavernous bunker he discovers advanced industrial technology, pagan imagery and a whole underground city! He also discovered Ewa, a lost girl trapped in one of the bunker’s command centres communicating via tannoy and radio. In the hopes that she may know the man in the photo, Szymon sets out to help her.
The engaging dual narrative tells the tale of Szymon and his exploration of the bunker but also of the harrowing alternate history and the goings-on in the bunker. It is certainly an emotional experience and gets quite dark in places. The interwoven stories are told in a number of chapters named after the different stages of grief. They are delivered through dialogue, exploration, discovered documents, and interactions with things such as computers.
Paradise Lost’s gameplay is what one might expect from a walking simulator. The player embarks on fairly linear exploration, though there are some fairly easy to miss side rooms, and discovered documents, objects and recordings that help unravel the multilayered narrative. There are also interactions with objects such as computers and conversations with Ewa that include a few dialogue choices. The movement speed is quite slow, especially when climbing and whilst this is quite fitting of the genre it may be a bugbear for some players.
Paradise lost has realistic 3D visuals with moody lighting and muted colour palettes. It is stunning to look at and the range of environments in a single overall setting and a relatively short game is very impressive. The soundtrack is a highlight of the game, implemented with a spooky subtlety it features atmospheric ethereal drones, slightly jarring strings, emotive piano and mesmerising celeste twinkling. The music is varied and emotive and really brings the story to life along with the immersive ambient and environmental sound effects.
Paradise lost is an emotive and surprising experience that will take around 5-6 hours to complete. The excellent visual and audio elements, twisting narrative design, gripping story and engaging world-building make this a must-play for fans of walking simulators and narrative-focused games, however, others may find the slow pace offputting.
If you’d like to read about more walking simulators, check out:
Dear Esther: The OG Walking-Simulator – Martha is Dead – Disturbing New Psychological Horror – Ghost on the Shore: Brand New Emotional Exploration Game