Paradise Killer and Nonlinear/Choice-Based Storytelling

I’ve spoken extensively about detective games on this blog, even going as far as to say Return of the Obra Dinn is the best detective game I’ve played. Since then, the idea of a hands-off approach to the genre has been expanded in games like Outer Wilds and Telling Lies. These games thrive when they trust the player enough to figure things out on their own, rather than the player being along for the ride. The fact that these highlights are also experimenting with nonlinear structures further expands the player freedom that fans of the genre are looking for.

Paradise Killer fits snuggly into those recent releases. The games give clear goals and are designed to get out of the player’s way, which allow their unique structures to work. However, Paradise Killer takes a step towards what I’d consider the next evolution in nonlinear and choice-based narratives by removing the fail state. The game stumbles a bit when it comes to the minute-to-minute exploration, but uncovering secrets at my own pace and letting the story play out how I believe it should shows a promising future for game narratives.

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