Set to release in 2021, Paradise Lost looks like an intriguing mix of first-person exploration, puzzle-solving, and philosophical rumination. In this alternate-history, you play as a young boy named Szymon as you explore an abandoned Nazi bunker in post-nuclear Poland. As you learn of the mysteries of this bunker and why it was abandoned, you will seemingly make decisions that are not only expository but also interpretative.
Developed by the Warsaw-based PolyAmorous Games and published by All-In! Games, this alternate history title looks to explore the meaningful intersections of personal and larger, global narratives. After speaking to developers at PolyAmorous, I excitedly suspect the ramifications of Szymon’s life will resonate with the lives of who left the bunker, giving players a heightened awareness of how searching for our own meaning inevitably shapes the larger world around us.
Gamer Escape: To start, I’m curious about the alternate history world in Paradise Lost. The game is set in a version of the 1960s after Nazi Germany dropped nuclear bombs. Do the differences in this timeline lie mostly in these facts, or are there other, perhaps smaller, differences too?
PolyAmorous Games: Our alternative timeline begins in the early 1940s. There’s multiple events that led to Nazi Germany becoming a nuclear superpower and you can find breadcrumbs of the information scattered all over the game.
GE: Can you tease anything about why Szymon would discover the hidden Nazi bunker portrayed in trailers? What makes him the kind of boy that would stumble on something like that?
PG: One day everything changes for Szymon. He is suddenly left all alone. He finds a mysterious photo that sheds light on some events from his past and decides to seek for answers.
GE: In a gameplay reveal trailer, Szymon speaks and makes other noises as he explores various areas. Can you discuss how the protagonist’s voice and body help to convey the story? It feels like you want the player to embody the young boy realistically to help convey the narrative.
PG: Szymon is a child in a world designed for grown ups. His perspective is unique. He is smaller and weaker than an adult and we’ve put a lot of effort into creating an immersive experience of playing as a child. Szymon is voiced by a child talent. We wanted to be as believable as possible.
GE: The level design seems to be going for a mix of intrigue and apprehension. And that feels like a great move in a game focused on exploration. So I wanted to know more about how puzzles will be in the game, since they would add to the engagement with the environment.
PG: The bunker that Szymon is exploring is abandoned and hasn’t been properly manned for years. Many of the puzzles are based on an attempt to recreate what was the original purpose of a particular location in the bunker. Also some areas have multiple pathing which can give a different experience.
GE: Gameplay in Paradise Lost seems focused on engaging with environments, and some might say it has the look of a “walking simulator.” Can you address how you worked to keep the gameplay dynamic and entertaining (within its exploratory vein) as you progress? I’m guessing the contents of the bunker will make the gameplay shift and iterate.
PG: Szymon deals with loss. Each chapter in his journey has him dealing with a different stage of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. With each following chapter not only we get deeper into unveiling the secrets of the bunker, but we significantly change the emotional tone of the story.
GE: The atmosphere of the game evoked shades of the Resident Evil, Fallout, Metro and Bioshock series for me. Were these games inspirations on Paradise Lost, and how so? Are there other inspirations players might be interested to know about?
PG: We like to draw inspiration from different sources. We were heavily inspired by actual history and we recommend looking up information on the “Riese Project” which was a code name for a top secret Nazi project consisting of a number of underground constructions located in Lower Silesia, Poland.
GE: Finally, the use of Nazis as enemies is a well-worn tradition in games, but I’m wondering if there are particular themes related to the Nazis that were intended in Paradise Lost? I ask because the game’s setting is Poland and the country is home PolyAmorous Games, so many non-European players might not have all the context behind dealing with a difficult part of Poland’s history.
PG: PolyAmorous is a studio based in Warsaw/Poland. A city that was almost completely demolished during WWII. Alternative history is a powerful tool to tell significant stories on tough topics. Essentially this is a story of a little boy, who seeks for answers to questions about himself. The grand history that he explores might feel a bit overwhelming at times, but at the end of the day Paradise Lost is an emotional journey and emotions are universal.
Screenshots courtesy of All-In! Games