How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Weighty cover-based combat sets it apart from games more similar to the Genre's namesake, but exploration is still open and power-up based.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~2 hours
Review Info: Paradox Soul was played on Steam
Buy Paradox Soul if you like…
- Cover Shooters
- Minimalist Story - gameplay focus
- Searching for Well-Hidden secrets
- Short, but sweet games
- High Risk gameplay with pattern based bosses
▼ Review continues below ▼
I really enjoyed Paradox Soul. There’s some solid game design at work here, and it was a fun taste of a Cover-Shooter/Metroidvania. This puts it in sort of the same category as Shadow Complex, though it mandates its duck and hide mechanics by making your avatar die in one hit. As you learn to play, the instant death gives it a kind of Hotline Miami or Titan Souls vibe, though it’s not nearly as adrenalyn pumping as either of those titles. The pacing is much slower, which is fine when you’re moving forward, but it makes backtracking kind of tedious. Because of this the game was at its best as I made my way to the bottom of the Laboratory complex, but as soon as I got there the game sort of lost its appeal.
The game opens with your character walking into a test facility and… well it doesn’t really tell you much about your goals until it’s implied in the ending. You’re left on your own to figure basically everything out, including every mechanic in the game. I kind of like this approach. It lends to a feeling of loneliness and discovery. This atmosphere could be improved upon though. While the graphics are very well done, with animations that perfectly compliment the gameplay, I found the music was a little grating after a while. It’s a sort of “Stranger Things” style 80s synth beat, and while there are several tracks throughout the game they all have the same drone. I think it fits, I just didn’t care for it.
But what I did like was the gradually escalating challenges. Nothing really changes with your character’s abilities in terms of combat. You get some gun upgrades, a bomb ability that’s fun to time, but other than that it’s going to be pop-in and pop-out shooting mechanics the whole way. The game does a good job at mixing enemy types together to create a sort of “puzzle” situation for you to solve, but it only has so many resources mix together. It just about runs out of ideas by the time you reach the final boss, and that would have been a perfect place to end the game. However in order to get the “True” ending you have to backtrack the entire lab to its entrance, and then you’re only allowed to leave if you also found the two bombable walls – which are in fact cracked but hard to see – which contain two keycards for your exit. I can sort of understand why they did this – a lot of players equate time spent to value. But to me it cheapens what could have been a really tight experience even if it was a little short.
Call it a nitpick if you like, the game does say “End” after you beat that boss; I could have quit just there. But to the game’s credit it’s good enough to leave me thirsty for more. I really like a lot of the game’s level design. For instance, there was a collectable I didn’t think I could reach with the Metroidvania tools I had already unlocked, but a situation that forced me to apply a move I already had in a new way taught me the power was within me the whole time. The three bosses are also a highlight. Because you die so easily, they’re all very heavily telegraphed and satisfying to endure through.
Overall, I’d say that if you lumped Paradox Soul in with every other Metroidvania, it sinks lower on the totem pole just because of its relative simplicity. But categorizing it with games like Dungeon of Zolthan, Mini-Ghost, or other budget games like the Legends of the Universe games, I think Paradox Soul is my favorite of these “Mini-Metroidvanias” that I’ve played so far. Its only real weakness is that I wish that more was done with it.
Cover shooting is well designed if not a little repetitve by the end of the game
Practically non-existant, but some clever platform ''puzzles''
Some pretty well hidden secrets which the game doesn't telegraph too well, but are rewarding to find. Map is unique
Not really any puzzles in this game other than ''key goes here''
Story is told with a few screenshots at the beginning of the game and in its two endings. Very minimalist
Pixel art is good. Animations are crunchy and effective
The music serves its purpose, but I personally found it grating after a while
Unless there are secrets I don't know about, not much reason to come back other than to just re-experience it
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