Rusty Lake Paradise – or is it?

Rusty Lake Paradise

“What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves.” Albert Camus

Developer: Rusty Lake
Released: Jan 2018
Price: £2.89 (PC/Mac), £2.69 (Android), £2.99 (iOS)

Platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iOS
Available on: Steam, GOG, itch, Humble, Google Play, Apple Store

Overview

Rusty Lake is both the name of the indie game studio and the eerie and surrealistic world they created as a backdrop for their point-and-click mystery games. Rusty Lake Paradise is just one in a series of similarly themed and styled games available on PC and mobile.

The game is set on Paradise Island, within the Rusty Lake universe, and starts as the protagonist Jakob returns there after the death of his mother. Since her enigmatic passing, the island’s residents have found themselves subject to the ten plagues of Egypt. The player must find her hidden memories and partake in unsettling family rituals in order to put a stop to the destruction.

Rusty Lake Paradise - The First Plague
Rusty Lake’s contrasting yet complementary art styles

Styling

The soundtrack is fairly minimal but really well implemented, with a different tone and theme song for each plague. Piano and strings are prominent and the style of each section fits the tone of the narrative and adds to the overall atmosphere. Sound effects were also of good quality and used well, but the voice acting was somewhat sub-par and seemingly all done by the same one or two people. Despite this, some distortion and other effects were added, increasing the eeriness of the characters and the dialogue making what would have been a major weak point in the game seem fitting.

The game’s art-style is a mix of cleaner cartoon style and softer, hand-painted pastel backgrounds by Dutch artist Johan Scherft. The combination creates a unique and recognisable look as well as helping to build an ominous and atmospheric environment that matches the various macabre scenarios.

Rusty Lake Paradise - The Sixth Plague
The Sixth Plague – A totally normal occurrence

Gameplay

Rusty Lake Paradise is primarily a point-and-click puzzle game; it excels in its genre, providing a large variety of puzzles and brain teasers, requiring different types of logic and actions, keeping the gameplay fresh throughout. While most of the puzzles made some amount of sense, there were a few in the latter half of the game that seemed to lack the same reasoning. Overall though, the puzzles were satisfying without being frustrating.

The storyline and narrative are really quite dark and the game features some fairly grotesque situations and requires the player to carry out some morally ambiguous and potentially nauseating acts in order to progress.

The game also features fifty built-in achievements that are obtainable across all platforms; some are tied to game progress but there are also a number of secrets and extras to be found, which provides some replayability. A single playthrough should provide 3-5 hours of slightly disturbing entertainment.

Rusty Lake Paradise - The Fourth Plague - Puzzle
The Fourth Plague Puzzle Example – Try not to get crabby!

Conclusion

Rusty Lake Paradise was a dark, fun and short experience. It was easy to start playing and kept me busy for several hours whilst costing less than a cup of coffee. I enjoyed the mix of the cute, cartoon aesthetics with the sinister nature of the plotline and gameplay which gives the entire series a distinct identity. This was my first Rusty Lake game but it was a pleasure to play, is a great addition to the point-and-click genre and I will definitely be purchasing some of the studio’s other titles.

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