Paradigm is the funniest game I’ve ever played. We’ll come back to this, but I just wanted to get it out there to explain a few of the weird things I’m about to say. The point-and-click adventure game is set in the post-apocalyptic Eastern European country of Krusz, which has a sort of “Soviet wasteland meets EDM music festival” vibe. The whole place is very gross and sad, and so are you. You play as Paradigm, a genetically engineered super-baby gone wrong. When the sloth who runs the evil corporation that made you (and subsequently hid your mutated face away in shame) sets out to find you, you must embark on an epic quest to survive and finish your EP.
I promise that when you’re playing Paradigm, the evil sloth who vomits candy, the beat boxing eggplant and the crass Aussie love machine all make sense and create a world that’s delightfully, wickedly addictive. Interacting with the insane characters makes every chapter rewarding, and you’ll definitely want to go through every dialogue option to learn as much as you can about them. The environments are equally fascinating, and the level of detail that developer Jacob Janerka has gone to in creating them means that you’ll spend a lot of your time running around a room madly clicking on everything. The puzzles themselves are creative and even morally ambiguous. You’ll need to figure out a way to trick a wannabe superhero and steal his most prized possession, and you’d better be prepared to do whatever is necessary to get your junkie friend his next hit of angel dust. OK, maybe these aren’t morally ambiguous, maybe Paradigm is just a jerk… Maybe you’re just a jerk!
But in Krusz, this is all normal stuff, and the stellar writing makes it fun rather than sad. The writing is Paradigm’s biggest drawcard, and it’s brought to life with great voice acting. The Eastern European accents are just ridiculous enough to make you laugh without making you cringe, and the timing of jokes means that every line lands just right. Even the graffiti and tutorial hints are carefully constructed. You’ll get helpful tips like “BASH YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE KEYBOARD.” The achievements are spot on as well. Any game that realises how much I hate dancing and rewards me for unenthusiastically grooving out anyway is a keeper in my books, and who doesn’t want a badge to show that they listened to a rapping fridge? Fun little discoveries like this make interacting with every little thing in the environment rewarding.
Point-and-click adventure games can become a bit monotonous over time, but Paradigm avoids this by interjecting the regular levels with fun mini-games that shake things up just enough to reset your pointing tolerance. Brush up on your button combos for Thug Booster, the fighting game that pits you against the dying hopes and dreams of street thugs to give them compliments and help them turn their lives around. Help brighten someone’s day with Force a Smile, a button-mashing test of endurance to make Paradigm smile. Painfully cheery. Get hyped about Endless Existential Runner, the only running game where you stay stationary (coming 2027). And the dating sim is just sexy AF.
Paradigm isn’t without its faults, though. My game froze fairly frequently, and I’d need to ALT+tab to fix it or wait it out. And sometimes I wished I was given a bit more contextual information to solve the puzzles — although, this might just be because I haven’t played a point-and-click in over 10 years.
Paradigm crafts a delightfully joyous experience by taking a depressing setting and running full speed ahead with every wickedly dark joke and observation possible. It made me interested in a genre I lost interest with years ago and has made me laugh so much that I’m sure my housemates think I’m weird. Even if you’re not a fan of point-and-click adventure games, there’s something for you in Paradigm. Unless you don’t want to play the funniest game in years. But then you’re the weird one.