ELEA : Paradigm Shift
Developed By : Kyodai
Published By : Kyodai
Category : Narrative, Puzzle, Adventure
Release Date : Feb 08, 2020
One of the great things about the unknown is if you cover it in any form of media, you can’t really be wrong because it’s unknown. Space is one of those unknowns, and it’s presence in video games is quite vast. Some titles attempt to tackle it in a realistic way, while others bring a bit more fantasy to the unknown. ELEA : Paradigm Shift on the Nintendo Switch tries to tell a more real story, one that could very well happen, but takes an interesting approach now and then visually to tell that story.
The future is a dark place, one where life on Earth isn’t the same. A pandemic has swept the globe, but luckily an Earth-like planet has been located, and it’s close enough to be reachable. An expedition is sent out on a vessel dubbed the Pilgrimage, filled with volunteers from all over the world. The vessel arrived at humanity’s new hope successfully, but shortly after contact was lost.
A little over a decade later, you take on the role of the space scientist River Elea Catherine Jones. Her hubsand, Ethan, was one of the members on the Pilgrimage, and she must know what happened to him. She sets off herself, as part of a research ship called Recovery in hopes of piecing together what happened to her loved one and the rest of the Pilgrimage’s crew.
As Elea, you’ll control her through various moments of her life, starting in her home right after the Pilgrimage has left, all the way up to and past learning what happened after it disappeared. At it’s core Paradigm Shift is really just a puzzle-solving walking simulator, so you’ll do everything through Elea’s perspective. One of the first things you’ll play out though is Elea undergoing a procedure that alters and affects her memory. This opens way to one of the games main visual effects, which involve a lot of glitches that it’s never fully clear just what they are.
A lot of the puzzles in the game just require you to either find your way, or piece some things back together. In the games opening chapter, you’re in Elea’s home and there are issues with her and Ethan’s sun Francis. What starts as simply needing to get into his room turns into a scavenger hunt journey through the house where you’ll encounter missing door keys and a power outage.
The physics of these puzzles is never really consistent though, and you’ll be relying heavily on the games ability to zoom in and look closer at things. I played a bit in handheld mode as well as with the Switch docked and hooked up to my big screen TV and I was still using this feature. Coupled with that, the controls don’t always do what they’re supposed to either. In the early stages of the game you’re told that when you pick up an item, you can press a particular button and you’ll be able to throw that item. I could never get this to consistently work.
While the story of Paradigm Shift is fairly enjoyable, as a whole the game doesn’t really clear the stratosphere. Visually I was impressed with this game. It looks great, and it’s one of the very few first-person games I’ve played where you can look down and actually see your characters body and feet instead of just nothing. The glitchy graphics were initially a put-off, but while I got accustomed to it eventually it should be known that they are used quite heavily and if you’re sensitive to this sort of light movement, you may find yourself suffering some headaches.
It may not be the greatest game, but the lower price point of this title makes it a bit easier to recommend. All the environments are beautiful, and it’s a beauty that can definitely distract away from some of the rest of the game’s imperfections. While I didn’t experience any myself, I had heard of issues with this game crashing for some players, but it never happened to me. So if you’re a fan of far in the future, space exploring narrative adventures with a little bit of puzzle solving this is a game for you and you should absolutely add it to your library.