Paradox Soul (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 11.04.2020

Review for Paradox Soul on PlayStation 4

When it comes to 2D action-adventure platformers, it's hard not to draw constant comparisons to metroidvania titles - and Paradox Soul is the latest title to enter the "genre." With an enticing setting that centres around exploring an abandoned test facility as the protagonist Dr. Rose. Developed by Ritual Games, this is a haunting experience that leaves all the story-telling to the exploration of this facility. The deeper Dr. Rose traverses, the more secrets she'll discover - and the darker the mystery becomes. So how does Paradox Soul stack up the myriad of metroidvania titles that came before it?

For those who aren't familiar with the term, metroidvania refers to the early games of Metroid and Castlevania that were 2D action-adventure titles that had non-linear gameplay. Paradox Soul follows this to a degree - as Dr. Rose can pretty much begin venturing through any unlocked door of the facility in any order. To make it easier, each room is assigned a number - and simply exploring each of the rooms in numbered sequence can help Dr. Rose progress much of the way.

Screenshot for Paradox Soul on PlayStation 4

There is little in the way of a tutorial to assist newcomers, and Paradox Soul does rely on having previous experience with other metroidvania titles to get the gist of it. However, for those who have never played these titles, Paradox Soul doesn't take too long to figure out. Starting with nothing, Dr. Rose will eventually pick up weapons, upgrades, body armour, and even key cards. The key cards unlock certain doors which allows for further progression into the facility while the weapons helps Dr. Rose combat the robots that have come to life.

While Paradox Soul doesn't spell out what needs to be done, the puzzles aren't overly difficult to figure out. The aim is to keep heading further into the facility to discover what took place in this derelict building prior to the beginning of the game, all while stepping over the dead bodies of the scientists who worked there. It's an intriguing story that doesn't rely on cut-scenes or text-based dialogue to build atmosphere, and instead it relies solely on the stage layouts and the background chipsound music with '80s synth influences to drive the narrative. Throw in the pixelated art design, and Paradox Soul is a creepy and haunting experience that tries to appeal to the nostalgic senses of those who also experienced these earlier metroidvania titles.

Screenshot for Paradox Soul on PlayStation 4

There are weapon enhancements that are optional to find, but make combat much easier thanks to the upgrades they bring. Such is the way with these types of titles - the game can be completed by only collecting the bare essentials, and skipping past most of the optional items - however, part of the charm of Paradox Soul is to take the time to explore every nook and cranny to ensure that Dr. Rose is getting the maximum help required. There's a lot of backtracking and retracing previous steps, yet that's par for the course with the genre. Getting the weapon upgrades allows for an easier time with the boss battles that feature a unique fight sequence that breaks up the otherwise common slog of exploratory side-scrollers. The boss battles are great fun to play - however they are few, which is a shame.

The main gripe with Paradox Soul is that some puzzles are too hard for its own good. For example, towards the end of the game, Dr. Rose has to collect three green dots which are keys to open a certain door. Furthermore, some of these are hidden behind breakable walls that can be exploded with a grenade. Being a 2D sidescroller, these walls are near impossible to find without some sort of online assistance to even begin trying to find them. Prior to this challenge, there is never any other puzzle that requires blowing up a wall, and unlike Metal Gear Solid, there no discoloured walls that signify that they could be blown up.

Screenshot for Paradox Soul on PlayStation 4

Paradox Soul's mechanics are simple: Dr. Rose can run, crawl, jump, and shoot. Aside from the boss fights that force her to play around with different strategies, the generic robot bosses and attack dogs are simply pushed aside with the same common tactics. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and Ritual Games does little to push the boundaries of metroidvanias.

For those looking for a lengthy title, then Paradox Soul is not the one to fill in that void. The determined few can probably blast through this in a day, while those who require more time on certain puzzles may finish this over two nights. Either way, this isn't a long deal, and there's nothing beyond the short story that it's trying to tell. However, for those few hours, Paradox Soul is an enthralling experience that is fun to play - and by the time it begins to lose its charm and become boring, Dr. Rose's journey is almost near it's end anyway. On the easy setting, this title isn't overly difficult, but the harder settings only reduce the damage Dr. Rose can take, which can cause more frequent deaths and thus more retries.

Screenshot for Paradox Soul on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Paradox Soul is a fine experience that retells a typical story centred around an empty facility, with dead scientists and killer robots. There's nothing original here, however the controls are tight and Dr. Rose plays well. For those looking to kill a few hours on a short metroidvania title, then Paradox Soul is one title worth checking out. While it's not as engaging as others in the genre, nor does it offer any new interesting innovations, it's still one worth adding to the list for short-lived titles to smash out over a weekend, or to knock out another easy platinum to add to the digital trophy cabinet.

Developer

Ritual Games

Publisher

Ratalaika Games

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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