Paradise Marsh is a game made just to be in. It has goals and puzzles, sure. But the real focus of this game is to make you stop, look around, and exist in a beautiful place. No stress, no pressure, just the player and a playground full of things to discover.
That said, I think I triggered the end of the world.
I say think, because part of the game’s ethereal charm comes from its lack of concrete explanations. So, I’m really not certain. All I know is I have a net sent by the heavens, there are no longer any stars in the night’s sky, and the game has begun.
The closest Paradise Marsh gets to telling me anything directly is a gentle highlight in my notebook, nudging me to check out the controls. And there aren’t many. It’s basically one button to interact/swing my net, one to jump, and another to swing my net sneakily/draw constellations (more on this later). After rolling up on a butterfly, I decided to use my net for its obvious purpose. The result was a new entry in my notebook — detailing things like the creature’s habitat and personality — and a star (which I could put back in the sky via a nearby stone). The butterfly-turned-star muses on a catching an admired one’s eye, and I return to the marsh, which now has one glimmering beacon above. My quest then becomes clear, I have to catch everything I can and draw the constellations back into the sky.
But besides capturing the nearby wildlife and shooting them into space, I can also find scraps of paper in bottles with pensive messages that add more to my growing notes. But some of my favorite things to stumble over seemingly have nothing more to do with my cosmic objectives: the puzzles.
It would be easy to pass by them, as there’s not sign saying “puzzle here.” But every corner of the varied environment contains something to interact with. This can be a clothesline with garments scattered around it, which I couldn’t just let sit. So, I caught every scattered item in my net and returned them to the line to dry properly. I was a little surprised that even worked, to be honest. Other interactive things like this include standing on top of a geyser to launch myself onto a play fort, or eating a unique looking plant and suddenly gaining super speed swimming abilities (which come in super handy when trying to catch some watery critters).
And all the while the world carries on. The rosy shades of dawn color the landscape as the sun rises, and nightfall’s approach is heralded by the sky’s cooling palette. I discover that both night and day offer different things to find, like moths which huddle around lamplight in the dark.
Righting a, presumably, cataclysmic event has never been so meditative.
I recommend this game to:
- Anyone that needs to relax this weekend (or during the week, no judgment)
- People who rightly think frogs are S-tier animals
- Exploration fans
- Players looking for non-violent games
- Those who dislike hand-holding
- Someone looking to exist in the here and now
- Players that won’t think too deeply about turning living creatures into stars
- As per note above: Greek gods
- Fans of games that reward you for asking “what does this do?”
- People opposed to letting the world end