This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch but is also available on PS4, Xbox One, PSVita, PC and Wii U.
A first person shooter, a retro design, a lot of rooms and feisty demons, that sounds like a must-have, doesn’t it? Well, if you appreciate dying repeatedly in a game than maybe it’ll suit you, but otherwise I think you’ll be quickly sighing in front of your console.
Paranautical Activity is a fast paced FPS with roguelike elements that creates a game that kind of uses a Minecraft design with a randomized map and weapons such as The Binding of Isaac. It was originally released in 2014 as a beta on Steam. It was later available on consoles a couple of year ago and was just released on Nintendo Switch (Which I’m reviewing on).
Your goal is to survive and go from one room to another, wipe out all the enemies in your path and to reach the elevator in order to go to the next floor, after beating the boss. Along the way you’ll encounter rooms with foes or a shop, that will give you the opportunity to swap out your weapon with the gold you obtain by killing enemies. However, the chances to actually survive are very pretty low and dying over and over again can be unrewarding and also unsatisfying.
There are several things that need to be discussed. First, the main menu: you have to select a mode between « normal », « hardcore » and « infinite ». And let me tell you, that even after hours I couldn’t reach the end of the classic mode. After selecting the mode you wish to play, you get to choose a character. But this doesn’t affect the game itself as there is no story whatsoever linked to them. Paranautical Activity is targeted at players who want to play a fast-paced game.
Concerning the graphics, Paranautical Activity will directly remind you of Minecraft: the environment and enemies are made out of plain blocks and its simple design is enjoyable at first. The disappointing part is that each level is poorly lit, the color palette is small and sadly, I barely noticed the nautical theme in the game, except for a few enemies and the anchor that is available as a weapon. In some rooms you’ll be attacked by sharks, but the nearly non-existent lighting in some levels makes it difficult to see some enemies approaching, let alone what they look like.
The sounds and music of Paranautical Activity is incredibly loud and some sound effects are quite frankly disappointing. Some tracks will encourage you to run and shoot every enemy in the room, but others will probably disappoint you. A more retro version and better-balanced version could make the ambiance much better, especially in repetitive games of this kind!
The biggest challenge is the difficulty of the game. At first I had really high hopes that I would go farther every time I died and restarted with different weapons, but as soon as the first two hours passed and that dying seemed inevitable, I began to lose interest. I really enjoy games with random maps, weapons and a permanent death because it’s challenging, but Paranautical Activity is way more than just a fun looking retro first-person shooter: it’s a very difficult game aimed at people who have a whole lot of patience and are very skilled at first-person shooters. If the difficulty was more balanced and escalated each level, it would be way more playable and enjoyable in general.