Paradigm is a game that invokes years old memories of watching Adult Swim for me. It reminds me of staying up late back around when I was 15 and laughing at shows like The Venture Bros., Boondocks, and Aqua Teen Hunger force. It’s an experience that feels ripped right out of those sorts of Adult Swim vibes, like it belongs in a time slot between Tim and Eric and Moral Oral… but Adult Swim has absolutely nothing to do with Paradigm, it’s the radioactive brainchild of indie developer Jacob Janerka.
Paradigm is a game. Of course– but more specifically, it’s of the adventure variety. Being a point and clicker, the mechanics are a fairly standard fare for most of its kind but what it has in spades is personality and good puzzles. That, and phat beatsies. Paradigm plays to its strengths, prioritizing interesting locations and characters over every other aspect.
Paradigm is a game in which you play as the titular character Doug the Eggplant. Wait, no, you play as Paradigm– a somewhat pathetic and fairly self aware mutant with a semi-regularly proportioned body who lives in the fictional city of Krusz, with peculiar grasp on the adventure game situation he has found himself in. It’s also the far, but not too far, future– there’s a bit of talk of some sort of nuclear event that left everyone and everything so messed up, but it’s not explored too much through the game, leaving a bit of mystery. With an Eastern European accent, Paradigm can examine, talk to, use, or pick up (or use a pickup line) on just about anything, often to hilarious results. While a bit cheesy at times, the voice acting overall is impressive, funny, and well executed.
Doug the Eggplant here has to raise money by beatboxing to pay rent, or else Paradigm will either evict him or eat him. Possibly both.
Paradigm is a game where the first room you find yourself in is small and unassuming. You see among other things shrine to DJ Jesus, a computer AI that needs to be plugged in, and hot pants hung up high, possibly so Paradigm does not give in easily to the seductive power of wearing them (some things are just too powerful to be used in an adventure game). Through examining and attempting to interact with various things in the room, I laughed more than I expected to, and that was only the beginning.
Paradigm is a game with puzzles. Some head-scratchingly puzzling, some strangely straightforward. Nevertheless, it’s not usually a game that left me stumped or stuck very often, and it always felt satisfying to figure things out. As with all adventure games, it’s wise to pick up literally anything you can get Paradigm’s mutant hands on that he’s willing to take with him, and even the stuff you can’t take with you will almost always result in something he says that will make you laugh. Interacting with everything is important too, because even the simplest items like a marker or a controller can prove useful. Worth noting, unlike some adventure games of old, there doesn’t seem to be any unwinnable scenarios. You won’t get stuck because you didn’t interact with a cat or didn’t grab an item at the right time. The solutions to puzzles, while often strange, don’t usually go into moon logic territory. Everything you need, the items and the information, can become known to you through interacting with other characters and your environment.
Join Paradigm as he fights procrastination with… MORE procrastination! Really, this whole adventure is just an excuse to avoid getting any actual work done.
Paradigm is a game whose story I’m not going to disclose here. I will say, however, that it’s simple and easy to understand, but there’s enough there to provide clear motivation for your character. Sure, perhaps Paradigm would rather just go home and make some phat beatsies, then lose inspiration the moment he gets to his computer, but more often than not he’ll just end up in situations where unfortunately laying on the bed and loathing himself all day just isn’t an option. What really carries this game are the characters, their personalities, and the jokes both referential and entirely original, that serve as incredible entertainment and reward for continuing to unravel what the Child Prodigy program is… oh fudge, I’ve said too much. You didn’t hear that from me.
Paradigm is a game with the strangest, yet one of the most charming, art styles I’ve ever seen in a game. If I could hazard comparing it to anything, it’d probably look most like the old turn based Fallout games, yet also with a dash of colors you’d be more likely to see in adventure games like Day of the Tentacle. But even then, it’ll betray its own art style for a joke to great effect. Throwbacks to classic beat-em-ups, saturday morning american cartoons, anime, and even a drop of claymation– each immediately recognizable and bound to make you laugh. There’s always a surprise waiting for you as you move forward in this game, with character and level designs so creative you’ll wonder how on earth anyone could come up with anything so memorable
From the characters to the setting to even the music, Paradigm is soaked with all manner of humor, but like chocolate, the dark kind is its favorite.
Paradigm is a game with a phenomenal soundtrack composed and performed by Jonas Kjellberg. It has a way of fitting right in with the unique art style with often strongly 80s inspired influences. Often it’ll hit that ‘worn out vhs tape’ sort of sound, creating an off-sounding yet still satisfying accompaniment to the already strange world of Paradigm. It’s a bit dystopian for the most part, but can pick up to be cheerful and hilarious when paired with the aforementioned throwbacks. It’s clear a lot of love went into these phat beatsies. Heck, a whole lot of love seems to have gone into every aspect of the game.
Paradigm is available on Steam and GOG, playable on Windows and Mac systems. If you’re still not sold, the official website has a demo to try.