Paradise Exclusive Hands-On - Early Levels, Graphics, Story

We get our hands on the next graphical adventure game from the creator of Syberia. Get our exclusive impressions here.

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Classical adventure games may not be as dominant as they once were, but these games can still provide an enjoyable, relaxing experience by presenting interesting plot conflicts that can be resolved by solving puzzles and interacting with characters, rather than pulling out a rocket launcher and blasting everything. Some of the best adventure games in the past few years have been from the Syberia series, by designer Benoit Sokal, which tell the story of a very ordinary businesswoman swept up in extraordinary circumstances. The designer's next game, Paradise, will also tell the tale of a seemingly ordinary woman who ends up embarking on an epic adventure, but it will offer a deeper storyline and perhaps more-intuitive puzzles. We recently got our hands on an early version of the game and have much to report. NOTE: This preview may contain story spoilers.

There's trouble in paradise--you have no memory of who you are or why you're in the palace of a war-torn country.
There's trouble in paradise--you have no memory of who you are or why you're in the palace of a war-torn country.

According to the story of Paradise, your character, Ann Smith, is a student whose plane crashes on the border of a fictitious modern-day African country, Madargane, and who is later rescued and brought to the prince's royal palace. Unfortunately, the accident has left your character with a nasty bump on the noggin and no recollection of her past--in fact, she recalls her name, or what appears to be her name, only after an inquisitive palace servant rummages through her belongings and finds a book with her name on it. As it turns out, Smith is apparently the long-lost daughter of Madargane's embittered king...yet the country itself is in a state of political turmoil, which suggests that whatever reunion the characters will experience probably won't end in a simple, happy ending. This tension is suggested in the game's opening movie (which you can view in our media section) as the king consults with one of his mercenary lieutenants.

All this is unknown to Ann, who wakes up in a tiny, barred room in the palace, which also gives you the first glimpse of the game's highly detailed environments. The decor in and around the palace is lush, and all areas, such as the atrium of the prince's palace and the vast outer gardens, are adorned with soft lighting, which gives the world an airy, dreamlike quality. If you're familiar with the prerendered environments of games such as Syberia or The Longest Journey, you'll find the way Paradise arranges its areas to be familiar, since, like in those games, you run through areas at preset camera angles, pausing to talk to the occasional character or examine the occasional fixture.

Dialogue is an important part of the game, since it apparently opens up new options as you grill your subjects, and it can also unlock puzzles and quests, such as how discovering a servant's taste for fine clothing can uncover an opportunity to bribe her with a scarf or how interrogating the favored concubine of the prince can open up a series of quests that eventually let Ann gain an audience with him.

You'll eventually get to travel with your very own leopard--a feature lacking in most modern games of today.
You'll eventually get to travel with your very own leopard--a feature lacking in most modern games of today.

The game uses a simple point-and-click interface reminiscent of Syberia (and The Longest Journey and Grim Fandango) that lets you left-click to move and to examine different parts of the environment. You right-click your mouse to open up your inventory (Ann's backpack), left-click on an item to equip it, and then left-click again to use it. For the most part, the game's puzzles seem to make intuitive sense--finding the exit to a dark hallway is a matter of using a lighter to ignite a lamp, while bribing a concubine with a sweet tooth is a matter of combining flour and other ingredients to create a sweetmeat. Later on in the game, Ann is joined by a black leopard that has been caged at the palace and is entrusted to her care. At certain points in the game, you take control of the beast and use it to perform simple puzzles, such as retrieving coveted flowers from an unreachable grove. We haven't had a chance to see much of the leopard in action, but the addition of the great cat should help add variety to the game, if nothing else.

Considering the developer's track record, Paradise seems like a very promising adventure game. In addition to focusing on more-intuitive logic puzzles and more-believable characters, the game will also feature an intriguing story and beautiful graphics. Paradise is schedule for release later this month.

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