It's sad but true: point-and-click adventure games are nearly extinct. The Myst series has finally expired after a long and storied life while many other franchises have died in captivity. However, we’ve recently had a first look at Paradise, an easy-going interactive adventure from the makers of the award-winning Syberia, 2002’s adventure game of the year. After a long hiatus, the genre could use a jump-start.
Paradise’s stylish and mysterious African setting looks like a great locale for intrigue. Players will guide a young amnesiac woman across Africa, searching for her identity as she leads a leopard back to its birthplace on Kilimanjaro. If that sounds unusual, you're right; what's more interesting is the seeming spiritual link between the beauty and the beast and how it develops as part of the gameplay.
Mysteries will be uncovered by exploring the serene countryside and romantic African cities, solving integrated puzzles along the way; one example we saw was figuring out a way to get beyond a locked door to seek an audience with the local prince. However, the developers are keen not to bog casual gamers down with excruciatingly difficult riddles, because they're really not the point. "Telling the story is the most important thing," says the game's creator, Benoit Sokal. "I'm interested in gameplay, not puzzles."
Sokal also wants players to "see behind the decor" and really get lost in Paradise, citing the Woody Allen film The Purple Rose of Cairo, where the line is blurred between the fictional world and the real one. Expect big characters and a sophisticated, subtle tale, "a love/hate story" that Sokal likens to Greek tragedy and is "not a game for little children." It's sort of like pointing and clicking on a novel; a story for players who have no interest in explosive weapons and frames per second.
But as mature as the content promises to be (the plot, which won't be spoiled here, deals with some rather dark daughter/daddy issues), the European developers freely admit that they are creating a game that should appeal to young girls. We wonder if that means the game will only be interesting to the Judy Blume set. Will Paradise find its place on store shelves riddled with shooters, or will the American audience rise to the cerebral challenge? We don't know, but we'll have to play this one before we willingly lay down arms.