Every so often, a group of developers comes around who really knows what they're doing. Sure, they fall short sometimes, or they take forever to come out with a new hit. Freebird Games is one such studio - sure, they're games are simple in terms of gameplay (in fact, one could argue they aren't even RPGs), but that doesn't really matter, does it? When you craft a story that effortlessly tugs at the heartstrings of even the most hardened player, you can get away with a lot.
As I sit here, typing this review, I am still thinking about Finding Paradise, and that's a difficult feat to accomplish! I've played countless games and their sequels, and I've never played a game that so loyally lives up to the expectations of its predecessor. Unfortunately, this also means that it has the same issues as its predecessor. So, let's dive in.
So, Finding Paradise follows the same doctor's as before, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts, as they take on a new client named Colin Reed. Although, there's something strange about this patient. His memories seem out of order, and his request is nothing like Rosalene or Watts has ever seen before. It's a different, yet familiar outing in the To the Moon universe, but this new addition is definitely a welcome one.
Much like the previous game, it's difficult to find anything too wrong with Finding Paradise. The story is just as solid as its predecessor, and even takes a few new steps to expend on what the previous game brought to the table. It's hard to write too much about it and not give any spoilers, but I can tell you that there's a lot going in this new title. It still floored me - the deeper we went in Colin's memory, the more I needed to see. Especially since he seems to be an odd case.
At risk of revealing too much, Colin's memories move in an odd pattern. You could feel the cautious worry that Rosalene and Watts had as they moved through this man's head. It was a nice little twist that kept me interested (most of the time). Then there's the side story of Dr. Watts, who had sort of an ambiguous ending in the previous game - again, this was a nice twist, but honestly, it can be easily guessed.
Another interesting addition was the addition of new characters from Sigmund Corps. and getting to see an actual interaction with the big wigs!
Then, you have the soundtrack, which - while not as iconic - worked really well. It did an amazing job in conveying the emotion of the scene and blending into the background enough to seamlessly assist in storytelling. I may not be shelling out the money to buy it, but I am definitely grateful that its there.
This. Game. Is. So. Slow. RPG Maker can be a really great thing, and these developers have used it to the extreme, but that doesn't make up for the tedious nature of the gameplay. It's more of a personal thing on my part - but if you're going to have such an intricate story, then you better provide me with some sort of reprieve from the incredible amount of talking.
Is it unfair of me to say this? Maybe. After all, I knew what kind of game this would be when I booted it up. But, I argue that this is just an issue that this series has. Instead of providing fun, amusing ways to move throughout the game - it relies solely on the player's interest in the story to push forward. It's ingenious, because it works, but if you're anything like me - walking around a house looking for memory orbs got really annoying, real quick.
I love a good story, but you've got to give me something else! You just have to! Otherwise, my interest will inevitable wane, and I'll move onto another game with actual gameplay.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Play this game. It is as good and as flawed as its predecessor. Sure, it can get boring, because there's not much to do. But, the story will keep you engaged. Even if you have to stop for a couple of hours and prep for it, you will come back. That's the beauty of this series - even through its non-traditional, Visual Novelesque approach still manages to work. You still laugh at Watts' and Rosalene's chemistry, and cry as you unravel more and more of the story.
It's not perfect, but it's good - and everybody should play at least one good game in they're lives. So, why not make it this one?
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played RPGs since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any RPGs you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!
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