"Finding Paradise" Is One Of The Most Moving Games Of 2017

"Finding Paradise" Is One Of The Most Moving Games Of 2017

Fulfill the wish of a dying man by traveling through his life.
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Many years ago, I played a video game called, "To the Moon," by Freebird Games. To this day, it has fundamentally changed the way I look at certain aspects of life. It's difficult to explain why the game impacted me so heavily without revealing crucial parts of the story, but ever since playing it, I yearned for more. Six years later, Freebird Games has finally released the sequel, "Finding Paradise," and it's every bit as moving as its predecessor.

Before going too in-depth, it's important to note that "Finding Paradise" isn't a video game in the traditional sense; there's not much actual gameplay involved. Many have instead referred to it as an interactive novel, which I find to be a more accurate description. "Finding Paradise" has a story to tell, and the player's job is to experience it without stressing out over any hurdles most normal games would present. Since the game is so narrative-driven, it is the quality of the story that I find so captivating.

"Finding Paradise" puts you in the shoes of Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, a pair of doctors who fulfill the wishes of their dying patients by reliving their memories and altering their lives. However, these changes only exist in the patient's mind. The two doctors enter the mind of former pilot, Colin Reeds, and attempt to figure out how to give him the life he wants before his time runs out. Despite the science-fiction premise of the story, "Finding Paradise" touches upon very real, very human topics. And it does so with great care and subtlety; arguably the biggest strength of the game is the superb writing.

Freebird Games does an excellent job at portraying emotions like love or loneliness indirectly. The characters that express these emotions feel so realistic that I found myself empathizing with many of them. They also manage to deftly balance the heartwarming moments with comic relief (mostly from the doctors) that prevents the game from turning into a melodramatic mess.

The incredible music also plays a massive role in separating "Finding Paradise" from its contemporaries. The numerous orchestral and piano ballads composed by Kan Reives Gao are well-composed individually, but when played by themselves they're merely above-average instrumentals. However, they shine brightly in this game by establishing different moods in certain parts of the story, creating peaceful or ominous atmospheres. Many of the climactic parts in the game wouldn't have been nearly as moving were it not for the accompaniment.

Overall, "Finding Paradise" is far greater than the sum of its parts, weaving all aspects of it (yes, including the gameplay) into a beautiful tale about a dying man's final request. Clocking in at around five-hours-worth of gameplay, be sure to get a taste of one of the greatest stories of the year, found here, along with the previous games in the series, "To the Moon" and "A Bird Story."

Cover Image Credit: Steam

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The Differences Between 'A Quiet Place' And 'Truth Or Dare'

One is great. One is not.
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I don’t usually like to rate movies out of ten. People see movies for different reasons, and personally, I believe that most movies can be enjoyed as long as their viewers go in with the right expectations. But despite this gracious philosophy of film, I also believe that there are some films that do things well and some that do things poorly. Such objective standards can be rated on a scale from one to ten.

Over the last few weeks, film fans have been graced by at least two fans that paved the way for future original creative endeavors, and at least one that has continued to establish my cynical outlook on the Hollywood machine. A Quiet Place, one of the more optimistic offerings, was one of the best-written films to come from the horror-thriller genre in the last few years. This weekend’s Truth or Dare was one of the worst written. And the key areas where they diverge are quite obvious.

1. Basic Premise

A Quiet Place, in addition to elegantly expositing slowly, carefully, and of course, quietly, contains a premise that can be summarized in one word: shhh. There are few, if any, rules except “be quiet.” And there is no grand summary of how the sound-hunting creatures came to plague the planet; we are only told what is relevant to the plight of the Abbott family, our protagonists. Understanding the monster allows us to wrap our brains around it. We fear that which we do not understand.

In comparison, Truth or Dare establishes nonsensical rules that are so far from logical that they cannot possibly be threatening. The context for the events we’re witnessing is so contrived that it is near impossible to feel tension or fright. And there’s no ambiguity, despite your desperate pleas for the cringe to end. They lay out everything you need to understand the “threat” so it’s no longer threatening.

2. Plot Motivators

A Quiet Place’s movie journey genre is known as “monster in the house.” The protagonists are trapped in a confined space with a terrifying brute force that can’t be reasoned with. This is what drives the plot: a compelling antagonist. Creatures with such auditory acuity that they can hear sounds from miles away. Insurmountable obstacles in interesting settings and situations.

Rather, Truth or Dare opted for a character-driven plot, which is a completely legitimate writing decision. Truth or Dare’s problem is that all its characters are idiots. This is a very common horror film trope - overly sexed teens are inebriated, or their brains are underdeveloped, and because of it they fall victim to some horror movie antagonist. The film’s antagonist might be the demon possessing the group’s game of truth or dare, but it seems more that it’s the group themselves and their poor decision-making skills, or their penchant for bringing up intensely personal arguments in the middle of life-or-death situations, or their unrealistically melodramatic responses to trauma.

3. Jump Scares

The idea behind A Quiet Place lends itself to the use of the loud jump scare. Sure, it’s a horror trope, and sure, it made me roll my eyes when I saw it. But the film is more allowed to use loud jump scares than most of its peers because they make sense in the context of the story - most of the film is very quiet (obviously), so any sound is going to seem louder than usual, and the slow-moving landscape has the same effect on the movement.

Truth or Dare, though, would rather use all of its jump scares on fake-outs, which is a well-documented frustration with modern horror films. Jump scares are unrelated to the plot and serve as a very thinly veiled attempt to give the audience a quick jolt of fear. They’re still a cheap method of scaring in A Quiet Place, but at least that film’s context allows the audience to forgive its use. The scares in Truth or Dare are so obvious that, again, they can’t possible come across as threatening.


A Quiet Place was across the board an incredible film. Truth or Dare is not. But like I said, I believe that most movies are good for something. There are objective standards which Truth or Dare fails to measure up to. There are documented writing formulas and genre tropes which the film actively ignores. But if every movie is good for something, what is Truth or Dare good for?

Well, it’s pretty great for noting how not to make a horror movie.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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'Ready Player One' Is Our Modern Day '1984'

The dangers posed by VR and advancing technologies.
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In 2011, Ernest Cline Published his best-selling science fiction novel "Ready Player One." Since then it has become a New York Times bestseller, translated into 20 different languages with a motion picture adaption currently in theaters. "1984" was a book written at a time when everyone was paranoid that the government would be watching their every move. Now that this is a reality, authors and film producers are turning their sites on the newest technological threat to society. Virtual reality.

The plot of "Ready Player One" is fairly simplistic. The United States has been ravaged by climate change and widening wage gaps aided by the disappearance of the middle class have turned the United States into a third world country. The protagonist, Wade Wyatts, plays an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) for a good portion of his adolescence. The MMO or "Oasis" as it is so called is the last frontier for mankind. The last place left to be traveled and explored at one's leisure. When the games creator dies, a scavenger hunt begins to find a hidden easter egg in the game that will allow users to take over the company and gain access to the creator's fortune (Think Tron Legacy meets Willy Wonka).

While the film is intended to be a sci-fi-action adventure film, its modern context bares more sinister undertones. Today, virtual reality is being utilized on a more massive scale than ever before. Videos of VR chat streams with Ugandan knuckles are all over Youtube. Horror Games utilizing the Occulus Rift are all the rage. We even have VR pornography now. While VR might sound exciting as technology advances, consider this. VR technology is based primarily on the idea of immersion. Most VR games are simulations and in VR chat you can choose an avatar and become whoever or you want to be. But what if technology advanced to the point where your simulated reality was created by your thoughts? Furthermore, what if the technology became so advanced that it could bridge the gap between reality and simulation? This is important because as technology advances, we become less involved with one another. IMVU, Pokemon Go, Second life, VR Chat, all of them prompt us to embrace technology rather than physical interactions. If there is one thing this film can teach us, it's that talking to people and being genuine shouldn't be taken for granted as technological advancements make physical interactions more and more of a rarity.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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