Much has been previously written about Paradise, a promised land supposedly filled with luxury and personal fulfilment. Everyone pictures it differently, but like many stories before, trouble has once again reared its ugly head inside it. Developed by Kaizen Game Works, Paradise Killer brings us a murder-mystery with a gorgeous vaporwave aesthetic, bringing open world gameplay that sets a high bar for detective games.

Taking place outside reality, Paradise Island is your idyllic tropical location, run by a group known as The Syndicate. Holding an unwavering belief in a group of mysterious dead gods, Syndicate co-opts unwilling humans into becoming citizens, but their combined worship unfortunately attracts demonic attention every time, forcing Syndicate’s council to create a new island each time. Now preparing Paradise 25, Syndicate’s entire leadership becomes violently murdered days before this begins.

Despite the prime suspect, Henry Division, being kept under arrest, suspicions remain high to the true culprit’s identity. You play as Lady Love Dies, a disgraced detective who was previously exiled, having unwittingly invited demonic corruption to Paradise 13. Nicknamed an “investigation freak”, Love Dies is called out of exile by Judge to investigate these shocking murders, tasked with uncovering the real killer, slowly unravelling a highly engaging narrative that leaves you hooked until its conclusion.

To discover the truth, there’s crime scenes to investigate, evidence to locate and by talking to Paradise’s colourful cast of inhabitants, potential motives to establish. Any evidence is automatically connected to the suspected party but if a link isn’t clearly defined, it becomes unusable during the trial, so blindly trying your luck won’t cut it here. Paradise Killer rewards exploration, also providing collectibles that detail the island’s history and Blood Crystals, Paradise’s currency. These can be used for numerous causes, such as information bribes or unlocking fast travel points.

Love Dies isn’t alone in her travels and carries a laptop companion, Starlight, her not-so-subtle plot exposition machine that can also crack puzzles called Nightmare sequences. This requires matching the top image with a set of given symbols, providing new evidence for your troubles once completed. Instead of guiding you to a correct answer like Danganronpa or Ace Attorney would, Paradise Killer is completely open-ended, delivering nonlinear gameplay that’s unprecedented within this genre but still provides enough clues to carry out your work.

There’s a refreshing freedom to Paradise Killer we’ve not previously seen. You can start the trial almost immediately if you desired, which is far from sensible, but without a narrative constraining you, Lady Love Dies’ investigation is what you make it. Coming to your own conclusions can be a little overwhelming in places but successfully solving this case is immensely satisfying. For murder-mystery fans, this comes highly recommended.