Somebody told me you had a boyfriend who looked like a girl who saved me in February of last year.
Radio Free Nintendo was recently asked about why they don’t cover visual novels as much, and the reason was simple and logical: they’re coming out too fast to talk about, to the point that if I end up reviewing them I have to debate whether or not to bail out to get a review done in a reasonable time. The newest Aksys-published romance Paradigm Paradox sort of slipped under the radar initially, but was it worth grinding all the way through the faux-futuristic adventure?
Paradigm Paradox is set in a future so distant it’d use stardates (the 26th century) where humanity is confined into walled colonies and operates at a roughly early 2020s tech level; there are still books in libraries and email sent from desktop PCs. The heroine (default name Yuuki, last name can’t be changed) is a student at a school in the Theta colony who when out one evening is attacked by a humanoid monster called a Vector: after being bitten she is rescued by a group of magical girls called the Blooms. The heroine manifests the ability to enhance the abilities of others and joins the Blooms, only to have her best friend involved in a mass Vector attack spurned by a trio of people with Vector-enhanced traits. She has to uncover the secrets of the Vectors and her home colony while also finding love, as it turns out that the senior Blooms and one of the demi-humans undergoes a “super gender bender” when their powers manifest. Author’s note: We apologize for the TVTropes link.
What Paradigm Paradox lacks in named characters, it makes up for in importance; there are eight suitor routes (plus a grand finale) which represents roughly half of the named characters in the game. The individual routes aren’t very long; getting the best endings on each route will run about 15-20 hours total depending on how aggressive you are with skipping through previously read text. Although it seems like such a short run time would mean the suitors don’t get a lot of time, I found that it was actually just the right amount of time for them to not get old. Aside from one relationship of questionable age (it’s with the school’s janitor when the protagonist is a second year in Japanese high school), there’s no real concerns with content on the main lines aside from some pretty heavy bruising.
The entire left side can transform, so go ahead and guess who on the right can. (The almighty janitor is top right, as a hint.)
Aksys have brought on new editors this year that have really smoothed out a lot of the issues that have come up in previous games. There were a few missing or transposed words, but it happened less than once a route and I could just move on; the only other text oddity I could find was awkward jumps to the next text box but it was clearly becoming a style choice. Because of the setting, there’s fundamentally not going to be a lot of environmental variety; the same shot of a doorway serves as seven or eight different exits from the “secure” colony.
I wasn’t expecting to see all of the best endings before writing the review mainly due to time, but it was worth setting aside the backlog to get through Paradigm Paradox. It’s probably been my favorite of the Aksys / Otomate collaborations since they really kicked off in early 2020, and has genuinely ratcheted up my expectations for Lover Pretend next month.