03/11/2021

๐ŸŽฎ Paratopic | Nintendo Switch | Review | 7/10 | "Videodrome Vibes" ๐ŸŽฎ @arbitrarymetric #GameDev #IndieGame #IndieGames

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Paratopic is a game that has been on the periphery for me for some time and a recommendation from the head honcho at Stumpy Frog Records was what it took to finally push me over the edge. What I discovered was an experience that was difficult to pin down, but I found that it stuck in my mind through the days following completion.

Lasting under an hour, Paratopic is a David Lynchian experience that twists your perspective by leaping between protagonists, time periods and places. Sporting PS1-era low-poly visuals that give an expressionistic vibe, adding to the surrealness of the game, this is a first-person adventure in which the strengths lie in the atmosphere, sound design and an underlying sense of unease, sprinkled with a dash of quiet threat. 

The abstract way in which the game is presented does mean that you have to approach it from a certain mindset, I’d class it as a more experiential piece as opposed to a game. You are moving through set pieces and linear areas where actual gameplay is extremely minimal, I was thrown off at the very start when you obtain a gun and methodically load the bullets, assuming that this was a preamble to an action-oriented experience but it became clear very quickly that Paratopic is very much about mood and languid pacing as opposed to jump scares, challenge or swift reflexes.

In terms of the plot, I’m very much someone who doesn’t usually get much enjoyment from purely abstract films and games - the ‘what do YOU think these bonkers, unrelated sequences mean?’ doesn’t appeal, but combining my own thoughts with those I found online following my completing of the game really clarified things and wrapped up the narrative threads in a way that I was not only content with but could appreciate.


In fact, reading about other players’ emotional responses and takes from the game and musing over it myself almost felt an intrinsic part of the experience, this isn’t often the case in such games, where set pieces can feel haphazardly thrown together under the illusion of abstraction, the developers are definitely to be applauded here.

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