Aug 14, 2013

Thoughts on Paradox Factor

Interactive fiction is a a genre I don't have much experience with, and I've never attempted to create such a game myself, so I won't be doing a full Pro's and Con's review of Paradox Factor for Android and iOS. That being said, I found the experience so compelling that I absolutely wanted to do a short write up and share this unique title with all of you.

As mentioned above, Paradox Factor is what is commonly referred to as "Interactive Fiction". In a general sense, this is a fancy term for a game composed mostly of text that asks the player/reader to make decisions at branching points in the story to affect its outcome. Some lean more toward the adventure game genre in which players navigate from area to area gathering items and solving puzzles and others are more akin to the choose your own adventure books I used to read as a kid in which one simply reads a story and decides between options presented at forking points of the narrative. Paradox Factor falls somewhere in between these as its time travelling story will have you revisiting key events in your character's life hoping to change the outcomes and affect future events. This is really the game's crowning achievement. As with any time travel story, one will have to suspend disbelief to follow along, but those who do will be treated to a well written, entertaining and fascinating experiment in exploring the consequences of being able to use future knowledge to try and fix the mistakes of our past.

I've only seen one of the endings so far and it took a fair amount of work to get there. There in lies my main complaint with the product. After some time playing, advancing the story required me to revisit several key events to try out several options in order to see their outcomes. I fell into a sort of "lather, rinse, repeat" cycle twice, in which I knew the outcome I was looking to achieve but had to keep going to past events, making changes and jumping back to the future to see if they had improved the outcome. This may seem part and parcel with the whole premise of the game, but the experience is really at its best when the flow is much more organic, which it is, for the most part. Keep in mind that this is a minor complaint and was but a small source of frustration that, likely, added up to no more than 5 minutes of fiddling. This was exacerbated, however, by what I assume is a bug. I played the iOS version and after hitting the home button ( in the app not the device) I was presented with the main menu. Two of the options on the menu are Play and Restart. Well, hitting Play seemed to restart the game, so I lost the progress I had made during my first play session and had to make it up before continuing. Like I said though, I assume this is a bug. The game otherwise seemed to keep my progress saved while I suspended the app.

So, if a trippy sci-fi story about the consequences of our actions seems like something you would like to experience, I suggest you check out Paradox Factor available on the iOS App Store and the Android Google Play store.

image from Google Play Store

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