Review: Paradise Marsh (Nintendo Switch)

Another in the growing category of peaceful walking sims, Paradise Marsh has some early charm, but it fades as expectations it sets don’t get met and the repetitive nature sets in.

It stumbled out of the gate with a pair of long load times and a glitch on the first screen that forced me to reset. Once it dumped me from the sky to the landscape, I got my first taste of the “picturesque” scenery, and I’m not really seeing it. The world of Paradise Marsh is procedurally generated, leading to many repeating visuals. Day/night cycles add a bit of variety but also lead to the game being washed out in the morning and too dark in the evening. With colors needing more vibrancy, plenty of pop up, and an overall dated presentation, it fails to impress.

That said, there are a lot of interesting interactions, and you can enjoy messing around with any time restrictions. This is where Paradise Marsh shows some charm, aimless though it is. Crows, Blue Jays, and Owls spout short poems to liven things up a smidge. Seed packs let you grow instant flowers. Various foods mess with your character’s movement and view. And scattered junk draws you in for a closer peek.  Admittedly none of these leave much of a lasting impression, and I didn’t seek them out after initial experimenting, but I appreciate the attempt.

The main gameplay involves filling out collections in your journal to restore missing constellations: it’s odd. You’ll be primarily capturing critters with your net, but more is needed than to catch one of each. You’ll need to capture three to five, further adding to the repetitiveness of Paradise Marsh.

For a “story-rich” title, Paradise Marsh holds the plot too close to its chest. You’ll get an uplifting sentence about each critter you catch, find messages in bottles strewn about, and hear aforementioned poetry from your feathered friends. But the short duration and cryptic nature must fit the game’s promises, and it comes up short here.

The “beautiful atmospheric Sound Design” is too subtle for its own good. Even with my volume cranked to the max, it was soft, with long stretches of not much to hear. I appreciate the environmental effects but desire a more pronounced focus on sound. A highlight for me is the audio link between creatures and constellations. Clicking a star delivers some story in the sounds of said critter; bees buzzing the info, frogs croaking, etc. But overall, the audio is too slight.

Paradise Marsh seems less concerned about being an “adventure” and more about delivering feelings. Some will no doubt appreciate its efforts. Others, like me, might feel it needs to work harder at providing what’s advertised. I feel bad knocking a solo dev’s first release, but I sincerely enjoyed little of my short time with this game, same as our contributor with whom I sought a second opinion. The visual and gameplay repetition combine with other shortcomings to make a forgettable title. Next time.