Platonic Paranoia Review
Puzzle your way to the truth in BERARTS LTD’s first adventure
Written by: Cindy Kyser on June 6, 2019
Developed by: BERARTS LTD
Published by: BERARTS LTD
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Genre: 3D Exploratory Puzzler
I ran into Platonic Paranoia quite by accident. I was scanning the list of new adventure titles on Steam and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number. This title caught my eye because the description indicated a focus on story and puzzles. It also had a warning about violence and gore. Prior to playing, I checked with BERARTS LTD to see if this was on of those adventures that wrapped a story around survival and/or gunplay. I was assured that it was not. Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against guns and I am a dead shot in real life. But, put me under fire in a game and my lifespan can be counted in milliseconds!
But, I digress… Relieved that Platonic Paranoia is a puzzler, I jumped right in. The game opens with a young couple (Murat and his girlfriend) driving down a country road. They are ambushed by four men with automatic weapons. We see them duck for cover but do not know if either survived.
The game then moves to a tropical island where we find Murat attempting to figure out what happened and where he is. To discover the truth, Murat must rescue his brother and 3 friends. Each rescue begins with a reel-to-reel film that transports him to a unique environment with a series of puzzle challenges. Once all have been rescued, Murat faces a final set of puzzles that lead him to the ending where all is revealed. There are 5 primary areas plus an end-game scenario. To avoid spoiling the game for other players, I will not reveal any more about the story. I will only say that it kept me guessing and that my initial assumptions proved to be incorrect.
Platonic Paranoia was designed and developed by three guys from Istanbul, Turkey: Burak Yilmaz, Ahmet Berber, and Murat Yilmaz. They were joined by two others who helped with the voice acting: Abdullah Turker (who has a song featured on the sound track) and Emin Sahin. They have been working on the game since late 2017.
Until the credits rolled, I did not realize that all game characters are modeled after the members of the development team. They used their own first names and each did the voice acting for his/her character. While playing, I was struck by how natural the dialog was. Instead of actors reading scripts, I had the sense that I was listening to friends engaged in conversation. Which, as it turns out, is true!
The cut scenes and environmental graphics have been created in great detail. Each reel-to-reel film leads you to a new area that requires full investigation, using a combination of the 1st-person and 3rd-person views. My only complaint is that there are large spaces to explore but only a few active objects to find in any given area. Prepare to do a lot of “sightseeing” as you try to find the occasional hot spot. When you do encounter an active area, a prompt appears.
The puzzles are what got me hooked on Platonic Paranoia. There were no walkthroughs posted on You Tube so I was on my own with only the Steam discussion board as a resource. In addition to finding a lot of keys, the game has very diverse puzzles which provide a continuous challenge. The first area (aka The Attic) requires paying attention, finding keys, and decoding a message. This boosted my confidence. As the game progressed, the puzzles became more complex and I did get stuck at two points. The first was because I missed a clue that was right in front of me. Perhaps my late-night gaming had reduced my powers of observation.
The second was a puzzle towards the end that involves figuring out a set of passwords that change based on player actions. I wore myself out trying to understand the mechanics of what was going on. Finally, I had to ask the developers for help. With 20/20 hindsight, I should have been able to solve this in the same manner as I would troubleshoot a software problem. That is, to take one action at a time and assess the impact. Then, on to the next action. But, late in the game, I admit that my patience wore thin and I began a disorganized “try this and try that” approach that was doomed from the start.
My favorite puzzle section is The Villa. Your objective is to “save the building and find the investigation room.” There is a big red button that, once pushed, starts a countdown. I got killed multiple times before I figured out how to manage the scenario and avoid detonation. I enjoyed the “aha!” moment when things came together and the puzzles that followed were all different and fun to solve. I was congratulating myself until I was humbled by the password scenario.
There is a fair amount of inventory to collect along the way and items are managed with an inventory screen that also provides detail on the game characters. Although fictionalized, each bio contains a bit of honest information about the “real” guy behind the character. I am also told that the characters in the game bear a strong physical resemblance to the development team!
Despite my enjoyment of the puzzles in Platonic Paranoia, the plot has some sketchy moments. At the end of three of the rescues, there is an execution-style killing of a person held prisoner. This gave me pause because it seemed so unnecessary. I’ve never been a fan of gratuitous cruelty, even in fiction. Since the game saves on exit and does not include an explicit save, there was no way to circle back and replay the scene to see if I had missed something. After completing the entire game, I still do not see a tie-in between the initial ambush and these executions. It was also never clear why Murat had to rescue his friends in the first place or who had captured them. Lastly, I have absolutely no idea how the game’s title ties into anything. But, there is a certain ring to it and it is certainly original.
The only issue I experienced was long load times between environments. I have a hefty Alienware laptop that met minimum system requirements but the load times between segments took up to 30 seconds. This occurred when starting a game session or when moving between The Island, Home, and any one of the primary areas (e.g., The Dorm, The School, etc.). After watching some of the posted You Tube videos of gameplay, this does not seem to be unique to my experience. It was an irritant, but not a deal breaker.
|+ Well-done first effort for a new indie development team|
+ Detailed and interesting environments with quality voice acting.
+ Diverse puzzles that will challenge your mind– For the less patient, puzzles may send you screaming for a walkthrough
– Large areas to scan for a relatively few hot spots or objects to retrieve
– If your system barely meets minimum requirements, performance could be an issue
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7 64-bit | Windows 8 64-bit | Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i5-4570T | AMD FX 6100
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 | AMD Radeon HD 7850
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 9 GB available space
Additional Notes: 3-Button mouse is required.