The Samaritan Paradox

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Score: 7.0
2014

The Samaritan Paradox is a retro pixel art adventure game set in Sweden in the 80s. Actually I didn’t even know that much when I bought the game with the discounted price of 2,7 euros from this summer’s Steam sale. It was just a ridiculously cheap adventure game with an interesting name.

The protagonist is a cryptologist called Ord Salomon. I couldn’t get past the name. Ord means ‘word’ so I was constantly thinking about it in my head like someone saying “word, bro”. Anyway, getting further into game all the biblical references became quite evident. The whole title of the game of course, the last name Salomon being like Solomon. And ‘Ord’ can actually mean promise too. Layers of meaning, layers.

And there were layers in the story too. Our Mr. Salomon is tracking down the secret last book of a journalist and thriller novelist Jonatan Bergwall, who recently committed a suicide. Not only was Bergwall mixed up investigating all kinds of mysterious dealings, his novel’s chapters are also playable, splitting the actual game into two very different settings.

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The game is somewhat puzzle heavy, focusing on cryptic messages and riddles. Many puzzles have a kind of built in hint system, as asking and looking around gives plenty of nudges in the right direction. Then again sometimes the player is left wandering around not noticing a correct pixel or two somewhere. In my particular case the majority of the game flowed in a nice pace, but I was frustratingly stuck a few times, even so that I didn’t really feel like continuing the game at that point.

And I did have quite a long pause before finishing the game, making the somewhat abrupt ending feel even weirder. Many interesting plot points are kind of disregarded. But I don’t think the plot or the ending is actually bad, they just could have been better. The game could have been so much more profound with all the layers and the weird combination of conspiracy mystery, real life drama and a fantasy adventure.

There are several mature themes in the game, much more than one would think from the single death that starts the events. The art is quite pretty and the voice acting is good. The game also has a nice length for a modern adventure. I would recommend the game at least for people who are interested in the unusual setting or retro adventures in general.

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