Paratopic aims to leave you in a state of confusion with an underlying feeling of horror. However, while it does both those things well, it fails to ignite much in the way of passion simply because it is so obscure and has very limited gameplay.
A walking simulator (in the vein of Dear Esther and Home) with 90’s visuals that will either send you on a nostalgic flashback or make you feel a little sick. It’s a blurred, murky, low-polygon mess that looks like it belongs on the PS1.
Except of course, it’s an artistic choice and it is one that does work well. Adding atmosphere to a game that looks to befuddle.
The story is unusual and hard to follow if you don’t pay attention especially as it jumps between three nameless characters randomly. One is a hitman as he goes to take care of his next target. The other is a photographer taking photos of birds in a forest and the last is a man attempting to smuggle mysterious videotapes across the American/Mexican border.
The only connection the three have are the tapes which are tied to each character’s eventual fate. Why? Well, Paratopic leans heavily on implications rather than out-right explanations and in the case of the tapes, it implies some sort of supernatural element.
As previously said, the game randomly jumps between these characters and tasks you with completing short interactions to progress. Interactions such as driving a car, following an unusual bird, loading a gun or just talking to characters. In the case of the latter, branching trees of dialogue implies a more substantial story but it never amounts to much.
Each one of these segments are short and leave you more confused and those hoping for a satisfying payoff will be sorely disappointed. After about 45 minutes, the game just abruptly ends. Although the game does give you fair warning about its length before you start. Letting you know that there is no save feature and it must be completed in one sitting.
While Paratopic does atmosphere well (ambient music and displaced voices add to that), the lack of clarity in the story does hurt it. We’re not asking for things to be spelt out but it’s just too obscure to really have depth. A lack of gameplay isn’t unusual but when combined with an unsatisfying story, it makes Paratopic one to avoid unless on sale.
The Final Score - 5/10