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Review of Paradise

SubjectParadise
Paradise
ByHelpfulness: 1
Vote: 5.5
yunari-ah419 on 2024-05-29
ReviewDisclosure: played with 18+ patch. I'll spoil things about the main cast and vaguely comment on the overall plot/lore.

Oh Paradise, what a strange beast you are. On the one hand we have a (mostly)well-written MC, good seiyuu casting, nice OST and atmospheric first half of the game. On the other hand, we have...everything else.

I'll start by saying Azuma was a pleasure to play as, most of the time. He's a "normal guy" in the best way possible. Relatable, funny, reliable, sexually proactive when needed and willing to compromise. His backstory reveal could've been handled in a more natural way, but I still felt for him. BLVN MCs either make or break their games more than MCs in any other genre, and this guy definitely encouraged me to finish this title. Sadly, there's a reason I kept adding the word "mostly" when talking about him, but more on that later.

The story starts out nicely enough: Azuma won cruise island vocation via lottery. The trip will last almost a week and there's guaranteed food & housing. After a few days, he's getting on board and meeting his potential LIs plus a guide who ensures him everything will be fine. The foreshadowing...
The first few days were going well, but soon the characters discovered the promised boat with food and water supplies didn't arrive in time, leaving them with no choice but to conserve everything they have and go exploring the island in hopes of finding something useful or edible.
After that, everything goes to shit, both in terms of events happening in the story and the writing quality. But I decided not to spoil major reveals or plot twists here because the story is so minimalistic. But if you're interested in that part of the game, I suggest playing it yourself and being prepared to turn your brain off several times.

Next step: the main trio of guys you'll be spending this craving vocation with.
My route order was Mitsugi>Matsuda>Takara(locked route). But feel free to play Matsuda first if you'd like.

Mitsugi started off with a BAD first impression for both Azuma and me, but turned out to be the "best" guy out of three. But if you compare him to other popular "best" guys in BLVN he's just okay. In the context of Paradise, he proved himself to be the best option for Azuma thanks to his secret caring and patient side as well as staying logical and being understandably sceptical for the entire game(outside bad ends ofc). It took me a while to start liking him, but by the end he redeemed himself in my eyes. But in a better game, I wouldn't think too highly of him.

Matsuda and his route was a shitshow for me, I won't sugar coat it. While he gave off the best impression at first, the cracks began to show once you enter his route. The dude was speedrunning his image from "competent leader" to "wifebeater(husbandbeater?) no 63526742". A shame, really. The good news is, if you like "bad" guys from N+C titles, you might like Matsuda. But for me, his "real" personality was total cringe and very unoriginal. I think writing violent, abusive men requires skill that writer just didn't have. Azuma also felt OOC as soon as Stockholm Syndrome started to kick in. Yes, it's normal MC behaviour for this type of routes, but it still sucked. The good ending tried to make their relationship seem genuine and romantic(another common trick), but I'm not buying any of this. I'm tired.

Takara aka the true route. Where do I even start? With a confession, I guess.
I was looking forward to his route the most at the start. I have a soft spot for cheerful, baby-faced and suspicious guys who clearly have more to them than they're willing to show(Rin, my beloved <3). And at first I was satisfied with his character. There was some overly obvious foreshadowing(his appetite, for example), but his interactions with Azuma were cute. Then plot happened and things got less good. After his backstory was revealed, and he started to desire human flesh I started to scratch my head. Similarly to Matsuda, the reveal of his "real" personality wasn't handled well. But unlike Matsuda, I felt like the writer still managed to make him a bit sympathetic and actually gave him a bit of romantic chemistry with Azuma. Their relationship was still Not Good, but their dynamic managed to be consistent at least. Plot-wise, his route didn't answer many questions and left everything too open-ended in a bad way. But if you pretend his route wasn't supposed to do any of that, it's passable.

The side cast just made me sad. Not in a "seeing them die one by one made me sad" way, but in a "why are they such an obvious cannon fodder" way. Hongou and Shimada were expectations, but both of them were unpleasant to me. Shimada was almost interesting, but the writer fumbled the bag. The NTR stuff made me gag. Hongou gave me a massive ick the first time he showed up on the screen. I'd rather forget everything about him.

In terms of art, sprites and CGs were solid. But imo there should've been more CGs in every route, it kinda felt like they put most of them at the start of the game. I didn't like BGs as much. Some of them looked like heavily filtered photos, while others were clearly hand drawn. This type of inconsistency can be forgiven with doujin/freeware titles, but not from one of the big BLVN creators.

Sound-wise, I only have praises. The cast is generally solid, and they elevated the script in many places. Thankfully Azuma's seiyuu could moan properly because otherwise the sex scenes would've been so much more awkward.
Music was good and fit the scenes well. It's far from the best SENTIVE soundtrack I've heard, but in-game I liked it. SFX was also good, if a bit lacking in gore-y scenes.

Overall, if you enjoy gory B grade horror and like seeing male MCs getting tortured and violated in different ways, you'll have a nice time with Paradise. But if you're expecting fleshed out(heh) plot, memorable horror scenes and consistent characterization, look into Shingakkou -Noli me tangere- instead. No, it's not getting translated by JAST BLUE because the seiyuu are too expensive and fan tl doesn't seem likely either.
It's not a bad game, but it feels like a wasted potential, a skeleton of a game it could've been. I added 0.5 to the rating because Azuma was fun. I know this game is a start of a series, but as much as I liked MC, he alone isn't enough to make me interested in playing other entries. Sorry...
1 point