🐳 Featured Group: Gameplay feature: Auto-mapping


aka: Benoit Sokal: Last King of Africa, Benoît Sokal's Paradise, Der Letzte König von Afrika, Last King of Africa, Lost Paradise, Paradise: The Season of Storms
Moby ID: 22233

[ All ] [ Nintendo DS ] [ Windows ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 61% (based on 62 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 21 ratings with 2 reviews)

So bad that even beautiful graphics can't save it

The Good
There are very few adventure game fans today who are not familiar with the name Benoit Sokal. His most well known contributions to the genre, AmerZone and the Syberia games, were so critically acclaimed that it is assumed anything authored by him will be the same. With every pre-release screenshot and preview, gamers were led to believe Paradise would be just as good as Sokal's earlier works, touting "a captivating story, lush graphics, engaging characters" and so on. So much for our assumptions and all the hype - for here we have a sub-par, inadequate and, ultimately, disappointing game.

Let's get down to the "nitty" and the "gritty" about Paradise to see what went right and what went wrong. Since this top section should be about the good parts, we'll start with those. And, yes, it does have some qualities to like - including the graphics and story (to a point) and puzzles.

All of the critics agree that the graphics are the best part about Paradise. I also thought they were very good - well drawn and realistic. Each of the locations was believable and interesting to visit: the prince's palace, the jungles, deserts, mining camp and treetop village. The animated cut-scenes were great, in my opinion.

The plot of the story is what grabbed many of us - a young woman in exotic Africa with no memory of her identity and a beautiful black leopard as a companion. As the box tells us, she is actually the daughter of a ruthless King (a real princess). She wonders why she feels a strong connection to the leopard who seems to treat her differently than anyone else. While Ann (the name she assumed) is just trying to find her way back to Geneva (her perceived home), revolutionary factions are beating a rapid path to the King's fortress to rid the country of his tyranny. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well it was, as far as it went. In the end it felt as if big chunks of the back story were omitted. People, places and things were never explained enough to give the story the depth it needed. Many questions were left unanswered.

Now we come to one of the middle-of-the-road categories - the puzzles. It's difficult to give you the "good" parts about them without mentioning the "bad". For one thing, there are no mazes and no sliders, no jumping or action segments of any kind, and they're all inventory based. Also good was their seamless integration into the story. Plus, most of them had logical solutions (even though for a few you really had to "think outside the box"). So, what's the "bad" you ask? Absolutely no clues - none. Not even a comment from Ann to provide a hint of what you're looking at. Combine that with a tempermental cursor, the game's overly strict linearity, and pathfinding weirdness and you have frustration to the nth power!

The dialogues for some of the characters were well written and informative, while others were just plain stupid. There were many unconnected phrases and sentences and some of the dialog strings didn't make sense. Voice acting, too, varied with some greatness versus very poor (in the euro English version).

The Bad
First impressions mean a lot, and here my first impression was right-on. The whole game has a bad, malfunctioning interface. From the funny drop-down, slide-over save/load screen, the handling of the inventory window, and all the way down to the most important aspect - the cursor. The designers chose an interactive "ball" as the cursor. As you move the ball over a hot spot, it sprouts legs, or spikes or a horn to signify what can be done to that hot spot. More often than not the cursor does not respond the way it is supposed to (especially within the inventory window).

Controlling the black leopard is one of the top selling points of the game. Well, those segments are idiotic and irritating to try to work. Pointless, really, since nothing about them helps the progress of the game or story. (Do you remember playing the wolf in one of the Gabriel Knight games? This is much worse than that.)

Navigation in one of the treetop village was awful. The graphics were actually too intricate and positioning Ann to walk down a specific path was agonizing. Getting lost here was the norm for me and frustrating to say the least.

The ending left you wondering what all the effort was for.

The Bottom Line
Let's face it - it takes more than beautiful graphics to make a game entertaining and a worthy play. So much about Paradise could have been tweaked to goodness. As it stands, the game feels unfinished - like a beta version rushed to production without adequate proofreading and testing. 'Tis an absolute shame and not what Sokal is capable of producing.

Most gamers will need a walkthrough to complete it due to the lack of in-game clues and the linear nature of the storyline. Some may get angered enough by the intermittent interface problems to pitch it before completion. (I almost did several times.) Without a doubt, I cannot recommend this game to any of you. Don't bother.

Windows · by Jeanne (75925) · 2007

buggy and boring

The Good
Is it any positive aspect in this game? In my opinion, no. If this was a free game made by some unknown team maybe it could be seen as a promising debut. But for Benoit Sokal it’s a huge step backwards.

The Bad
It’s far behind the mystery and the fantasy of the games Benoit Sokal used to make. Bad story, bad interface, bad implementation of the quests.

The Bottom Line
The story is about a girl that lost her memory in a plane crash. She is the daughter of a not-so loved king in troubled country. But she doesn’t know (of course, she lost her memory) so she is starting a journey to return to her home, that she’s convinced it’s in Europe. The action takes place in some country that makes me thinking of North Africa.

But this game is one of the worst games that I ever played. It’s well below the Syberia series. I enjoy more to play even nowadays a game like Kyrandia or King’s Quest (games about 10 years old) than this one.

First of all, the interface is so buggy that it’s hard to even play! The cursor should transform in various forms depending of the action that can be performed. But for pick-up, for example, if you are not pointing in the exact spot in a scene, you don’t know that you can pick-up an item. It’s difficult to point the girl to move in the desired direction, too. The gamer become some kind of human scanning device, to find if there isn’t something in a scene.

The game is poorly made in many aspects. For example, in a quest you must put water into a bowl. There are many water fountains and pools. Yeah, but you must click on a particular spot on a particular pool to put the water into the bowl. The dialogues are lacking depth and the fact that there is no humour makes the game quite boring. The quests are painfully linear: you must follow an exact path in all your actions. I find the graphics average. It’s an adventure game, not a real-time 3D action game, so I expected something more beautiful and detailed.

As for the story, it seems that the guy who wrote the scenario didn’t read it from the beginning to the end because many things do not make sense. One example: Why do they put an officer to guard a very large exit with no gate, which you can pass with no problem to go to the harbour, but he will ask you for a document to allow you to quit the town? And once you have the damn’ document nobody is looking at it.

Don't lose time with this one; there are older adventure games that provide more fun and better graphics.

The game lacks the testing, it’s full of bugs. It’s a shame that the french company Ubisoft put on market such a lousy product.

Windows · by Robinet (41) · 2007

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by COBRA-COBRETTI, Alsy, Riemann80, Wizo, Jeanne, Manfred O, Đarks!đy ✔, Veniceknight, Patrick Bregger, Macs Black, Sciere, Xoleras, Cantillon, PolloDiablo, Lonely Rolling Star, kelmer44, lobo rojo, Trevor Harding.