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Let’s Play: Paradise aka Last King of Africa   ***SPOILERS***

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Inspired by Diego’s still unfinished Let’s Play Keepsake, I have for a while toyed with the idea of making my own “Let’s play”, and for this I have chosen one of the least loved games in this forum:

I must confess that at least part of my motivation for this, is to show you all that it’s bad reputation is completely undeserved, and that it is actually a very good game. Not in any way flawless, but a game that despite its flaws never the less shines much brighter than others, and at least for me, manages to do something that very few games have done. It has been quite a while since I played it, so if it can live up to my memory or it will end up disappointing me, well that is something that we will have to wait and see.

Anyone who has played the game or for that matter anyone who hasn’t, should fell free to post any comments you might have, the more the merrier. And if this inspires anyone to also play the game, then fell free to join in. Just be warned that the thread will contain story-spoilers, and it is my ambition to keep a relative high pace though this.

But please, if all you have to contribute with is how much you hate the game or the protagonist, then please post about it somewhere else, as this is not a discussion about the qualities of the game.

Before I get started on the actual Let’s Play, a little bit about the game:

Paradise is made by Benoît Sokal and White Birds Productions, it was released in 2006 and is based on a novel by Sokal. The game also exists in a DS version, and was renamed to Last King of Africa for this release. A title I has always thought is much better suited for the game, as it much better tells what the game is about. Also when hearing this title, I can’t help but to think of “The Last King of Scotland” which I find very appropriate giving the story of this game, and I’m fairly sure Idi Amin is one of the inspirations for this game.

The story is about a young women who returns to her native country of Maurania in Africa after having left it as a small child.
Its about a women coming to terms with her family’s past and finding her own role in the current events, instead of being used as a pawn in somebody else’s game.
Its about a young women travelling through a country torn apart by civil war with a black panther as her only companion and protection.
...
But more than anything else it is a game about Africa.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Woohoo! I’ll be enjoying this! Perhaps it’ll even motivate me to get the game and play it finally (I’ve been considering it for some time now)

     

Recently finished: Four Last Things 4/5, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout 5/5, Chains of Satinav 3,95/5, A Vampyre Story 88, Sam Peters 3/5, Broken Sword 1 4,5/5, Broken Sword 2 4,3/5, Broken Sword 3 85, Broken Sword 5 81, Gray Matter 4/5\nCurrently playing: Broken Sword 4, Keepsake (Let\‘s Play), Callahan\‘s Crosstime Saloon (post-Community Playthrough)\nLooking forward to: A Playwright’s Tale

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Oh, interesting, I’ve had the game installed for some years but never got to play it, I’ll try to join in to read the comments.

     
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The game was reviled and got bad reviews because it WAS FULL OF BUGS - making the game run poorly if at all.

I played a patched version in the day and made it 85% through before a bug finally stopped me.

I at no small expense have in my collection: “The Last King of Africa” which got good reviews - no bugs and still had the charm of the PC game. I will be playing in this play through with that wonderful game. I finished this version.

 

     

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I played Paradise for a couple of hours before I hit a gamebreaking bug that would’ve forced me to restart.
Since I found the game utterly boring at that point, I never looked back.

The game is certainly beautiful, like Syberia, but boy did I find it dull.
I also didn’t get the bits where you’re playing as the panther since there’s nothing to do in them. They just felt pointless…


It’ll be interesting to see if I missed anything by giving up after that bug…

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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Mikekelly - 22 February 2015 08:02 PM

The game was reviled and got bad reviews because it WAS FULL OF BUGS - making the game run poorly if at all.

I didn’t get bad reviews, it got mixed reviews, for example 3.5/5 stars here on AG which is a fairly good score. BTW people should read the excellent review by Johann Walter, which correspond to a large degree with my own opinion of it.

TimovieMan - 23 February 2015 06:42 AM

Since I found the game utterly boring at that point, I never looked back.

That is a more likely cause for why so few like this game, it starts slow and doesn’t drag you in right from the start.

Regarding bugs, well I did say it was not flawless, but I only encountered one major bug myself, and that was early in the game. (Perhaps that same that stopped Timovieman)

Anyway, glad to see there is some interest in this, so I better crack on with the actual Let’s Play.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Chapter 1 - Madargane

A gunboat on a river.

A father anxiously awaiting his daughter’s return from Genova. A daughter he hasn’t seen since she was 6 years old, and now he is worried that she doesn’t love him any more.

Of course this doesn’t prevent him from throwing in a few curses at the damn rebels, that simply wont see reason and accept that this country is his by right, and his daughter’s by right of birth of course.

A small plane caught in a storm, with people firing their guns at it, because… well I guess in this part of the world, that is simply what you do when you see an unidentified plane, or perhaps they know something?

Obviously the plane crashes, and next thing we know

We wake up locked inside some prince’s harem!

[Please insert any sexists comments, impure thoughts or sexual fantasies here ]

But don’t worry, it is not that kind of a game!
And there is a good reasons for why we have ended up here.

Apparently we were on on the plain that got shot down, and now we have completely lost our memory, we haven’t got the slightest clue as to who we are or why we are here in Maurania!

Hmmm… I’m not sure I completely buy that, amnesia is such a conveniently thing if you don’t want to answer any hard questions! But lets see how it all plays out before we jump to any conclusions.

Perhaps this library card can give us some hints as to our identity? A Pity there is no name on it.

Well, we can’t run around calling ourself “I don’t remember my name”, so we might as well take some more or less random name. Ann Smith sounds nice, actually that name was Aicha’s suggestion.

Well a little bribe can never hurt, and now we at least have a friend, and her brother. Friend is probably an exaggeration, but at least there is someone who is willing to help us and answer some of our questions.

It seem like we are more or less a prisoner, and the only one that has authority to let us go is the prince himself, but he has the “butterfly sickness” and will only see his favourites right now!
But at least we now have access to the rest of the harem, so I guess it is time to do some exploring.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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A little easy puzzle to solve, before we have access to the rest of the harem.

No harem is complete without a eunuch, this one however is not very friendly and won’t (or can’t) even talk to us. Don’t worry I’m sure I will find a way to get past you.

Nice view.

Some locked doors. At least there is a large basket conveniently placed so we have a good view if we hide in it, I’m sure that will come in handy later.

I’m sure this matron is someone with some authority, but at least for now, I can’t even talk to her.

Looks like some kind of hidden door, and some overly complicated mechanics to open it. I don’t think I have what is needed so solve this puzzle yet, but I will make a note of it.

Goldilocks anyone?
One too fat, one too skinny and one just right!
I don’t think that is the actual meaning, but that was my first thought here.
Probably something about balancing a counterweight to match your own weight, I smell a puzzle here.

An aviary with some pretty birds, another puzzle perhaps?

Now we are talking - Unfortunately the ladies aren’t very friendly, in fact their words can pretty much be summarized to “Piss off”! I’m beginning to see a pattern here, even Aicha is getting tired of answering my question and just wish I would leave her alone - Not a very friendly place this.

Seems like I have now explored the whole place, or at least as much as I can do for now. Time to do some puzzle solving, that Goldilocks puzzle might be a good place to start.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Iznogood - 23 February 2015 01:42 PM

Regarding bugs, well I did say it was not flawless, but I only encountered one major bug myself, and that was early in the game. (Perhaps that same that stopped Timovieman)

I think I remember where it was. I’ll chime in when you get there… Tongue

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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I played Paradise for a couple of hours before I hit a gamebreaking bug that would’ve forced me to restart.
Since I found the game utterly boring at that point, I never looked back.

The game is certainly beautiful, like Syberia, but boy did I find it dull.
I also didn’t get the bits where you’re playing as the panther since there’s nothing to do in them. They just felt pointless…

The game starts out very slowly, but does build up to an amazing ending - which for many was the best ending ever in an adventure game.

I got to the end in the DS version and the slowness of the beginning I understood and the payoff was worth it.

This could have been a classic adventure game like Syberia with more work and polish.

Instead, major adventure game sites like “Just Adventure” gave it a “D” rating:

“The disappointment of the year for the adventure community. All of the fuss and hype was for nothing which is actually a shame, since its wonderful world was the perfectly fertile ground to create a fantastic exotic adventure, but unfortunately the opportunity was lost.”

All I heard at the time of release was how buggy and unplayable the game was.

Not exactly a major award winning adventure game.

Heart

 

     

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It seems like I was a bit premature when I declared that I had already explored all I had access to, there is an unlocked door that leads to a whole new area:

Nothing to see here though, except for more locked doors and bitchy ladies.

So lets instead go into the beautiful garden.

Where we also meet the gardener Mustapha.
Finally a friendly person who will talk to us without any strings attached, and to make it better he even knows and cares a bit about what is going on outside the walls of the palace.

Apparently rumours are that King Rodon is sick possibly even dying, and people are fleeing from the wonderful city of Madargane. They fear that without the king’s protection, the rebels will easily take it and rape, plunder and murder their way through the city. Well in that case we can’t really blame them for running as fast as they can, can we.

Another door… Locked… Obviously.

Isn’t it a beautiful garden.

It seems like if we want to get anywhere in this game, we need to practice our skills in the lost art of kissing butt. She is apparently the prince’s favourite wife, and she doesn’t like foreigners.. which she doesn’t fail to mention.. several times! But surely a compliment or five can loosen her up a bit.

At least all the brown-nosing wasn’t in vain and she told us several useful information.

I wasn’t completely wrong about the goldilocks sign, it is actually a dainty-scale! Apparently the prince is worried that his wifes, and especially his favourite wife should get a bit too fat Grin All I have to do now is just figure out how to use the damn thing.

More importantly she also gave me a good idea of how I can get to see the prince.
All I need is a fishing-rod, some whipped-cream, three snakes (preferable green), some celery and a black dress.

Well technically I probably only need the black dress, the rest is for plan B or just a bit of fun, and she has just the right dress for the occasion! Unfortunately she will under no circumstances let me anywhere near it, let alone lend it to me, so I guess a bit of B and E are called for.

An unlocked door.

With a small alchemy lab inside.

Creating a balsam against the Butterfly Fever seem way to complicated and time consuming, and I somehow doubt that I will need to Chase Away Evil Spirits or a Potion of Celestial Bliss, but that recipe for a perfume does looks interesting.

So basically all I need is a black dress, some perfume and loose or gain a bit of weight so I fit perfectly on the Dainty-Scale, and I should be able to gain access to the prince - Well at least that is my master plan.

A telescope

Pointing conveniently at some fruits ripe for the picking.

Well if there is anything I have learned from my many years of playing adventure games, then it is that you should should always pick the lowest hanging fruits first, figuratively speaking of course, in this case they are actually hanging pretty high. Luckily I had already MacGyvered a fruit-picker from items found in the garden, and the first ingredient for the perfume, some almonds, are in the bag.

Nice Kitty, let me just pet you a bit!

Phew! That was a close call.
Apparently he has a soul that is just as black as its fur, and it ripped the arm off of the last girl that tried to pet it. Thanks for the warning Aicha.
Though somehow I get the feeling that it wouldn’t do that to me, don’t know why Wink

Another mechanical puzzle, this one is easily solved.

And the fish are now in the small pond instead of in the large pond. I have absolutely no idea of why I just did that, or what it accomplished, but the fish did rotate a small water wheel in the process, so something somewhere has probably changed.

Anyway doesn’t seem like there is more I can do in the garden right now, so lets go back inside.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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To me, the true beauty of this game really shines starting in chapter one. This game never stops to wow me with it’s graphics.

Chapter one is a bit slow, but I actually found the puzzles interesting and fun to solve.

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Going inside it is now possible to speak to Madame Souafi.

According to the princess, she was once actually the prince’s favourite, though it was so long ago that Madame Souafi herself is the only one that remembers it. But if that is the case, then how does the princess know?

I also I can’t help but wonder if perhaps her… eh… round figure, is the direct cause that the prince installed the Dainty-Scale.

Anyway there seem to be a lot of rivalry and intrigue going on in the harem, which is hardly surprising since they are all rivals for the prince’s favour. Better be careful that we don’t step on the wrong toes.

Madame Souafi is actually relative friendly and helpful, though she doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know, and obviously, we can’t just talk her into letting us into the princesses room.


Time to recruit an accomplish and let her in on our plan.
Aicha actually agrees both on the plan and to help us, though I can imagine that this could be quite dangerous for her if we were discovered. She also knows where the princess keeps her special little black dress, but unfortunately not how to actually get into her room.

If you want to learn something, then what’s better than to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. I mean what is the worst that can happen if she figures out that we plan to break into her room, steal her black dress, a dress she claims her life or at least her status as favourite depends entirely on, and dethrone her as favourite, even if only temporary?

Keep nagging her for long enough and she will basically flee from you.

Which of course doesn’t stop us.

But it does seem like she has a sweet-tooth and want us to do her a little favour.

Remember the Dainty-Scale? Well I guess it only makes sense that there should also be a little reward for those that watch their weight, and that bottom row could look like some kind of cakes. Easiest way seems to be to manipulate with the counterweight.

A Jar

Fill it with water - This was actually the difficult part, despite being surrounded by water, there is only one place we can fill the jar, and the hot-spot for doing so, is rather small and difficult to find.

This is something you should be aware of if planing to play this game yourself, sometimes, not always, but sometimes the hot-spots can be small and difficult to find, and there isn’t any hot-spot revealer.

Let the counterweight soak up some water.

Grab the cakes.

Give them to the princess and bob’s your uncle - Except a few light honey-cakes wasn’t enough to satisfy her. Another trip to get her some medium, and another for the heavy cakes. Surely she will now tell us everything we need to know?

It seems like she has turned us into her personal servant. Well no pain no gain, and at least I know exactly where the steam bath is, and what I need to do.

Okay, so I don’t know exactly what I have to do, but I at least know where the steam-bath is, and that there is a whole lot of complicated machinery connected to it.

Madame Souafi gives us some basic instructions.

And after getting the preferred steam settings from the princess.

It actually wasn’t nearly as complicated as I had feared.

Her highnesses bath is ready.

All we have to do now is hide in the basket, and wait until she “asks” Madame Souafi to fetch her something, so we can see how the door is opened.

Call our accomplish.

And the dress is ours - Mwahahaha!!!

FINNALLY we can go see the prince, or?

Well, I did see that coming even if our heroine didn’t!
I will bet that we have to create some perfume ourself, luckily we already have an recipe and one of the ingredients.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Mikekelly - 24 February 2015 06:51 PM

To me, the true beauty of this game really shines starting in chapter one. This game never stops to wow me with it’s graphics.

Chapter one is a bit slow, but I actually found the puzzles interesting and fun to solve.

I agree, and not just because the of the graphic, that makes especially the garden, such a beautiful place to explore, but also because I actually prefer stories that evolve slowly, instead of just dumping you right into the middle of things.

I also think that starting the story slowly serves several different purposes.

1) It prepares both us the player and “Ann” for what comes next.
Even though there isn’t one long coherent explanation or any long-winded conversations explaining everything, then we still pick up a lot of information in small fragments. “Ann” learns a lot about especially the prince, the Harem and the people in it, but also a bit about the town of Madargani and the political situation in Maurania. We as a player also learn a bit about what kind of person “Ann” is, even though we perhaps doesn’t get as much feedback from her as we would like.

Had we been able to see the prince right away, which would have been the most logical thing, then both we and her would have been completely unprepared. She would must likely be like a dear caught in the headlights of a car, and we the players wouldn’t have the slightest clue about what he is talking about.

2) This game is very much about Africa, but there are (at least) two parts of Africa. Africa north of Sahara or the “Arabic” part, and Africa south of Sahara or the “Black” part. And I think it was important to include both parts more or less equally even though the most dramatic parts all take place in “Black” Africa.

3) It is an adventure game, adventure games need puzzles and The Harem and the town of Madargani serves as an excellent place for adding some puzzles that aren’t too far-fetched or too much artificial road-blocks. I know that some just want to get on with the story without having to spend time on puzzles or simply enjoying the atmosphere of the game, but for me the whole pace here in the beginning, the mix between small story snippets, enjoying the atmosphere and graphics while backtracking my steps, and the actual puzzles themselves, are almost perfect.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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As I play along on a Nintendo DS, I can’t help but notice two things:

1) The dual screen is very helpful.

2) Sadly, there is no voice acting in the Nintendo version.

So - good and bad - really. Still one of the best PC to DS conversions out there.

Heart

     

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So we need to create some perfume, but perhaps there is an easier way?

Well it never hurts to ask, and at least she confirms that the perfume is the one we found the recipe for earlier.

Luckily we already know what ingredients we need to make the perfume, we already have the almonds, and the water can be found in the lab. So we only need the flowers and we are ready to go.

Unfortunately the flowers are nocturnal and only bloom at night, and at night the panther is let out of its cage freely roaming the garden, so it can scare away eat burglars and others who shouldn’t be there. Getting the flowers might not be so easy, or?

First we need to find the flowers, and look it is getting dark and the flowers are opening. Not possible to pick them from here though.

Perhaps we better sleep on it.

And dream a little dream.

Of a certain kitten ferocious wild predator with a soul as black as its fur.

As we all know the night belongs to the predators (and lovers according to Bruce Springsteen), and this is also the case in this game. At night-time we take control of the panther and do whatever cats do a night, for the most part it serves no other purpose than as a small intermezzo and is purely optional. But here it might actually serve another purpose.

Isn’t that the flowers we spotted earlier, perhaps kitten should leave a little present for “Ann”.

Rise and shine.

It is a beautiful day.

And someone has left a little present for us.

So we now have all the ingredients, time for some chemistry.

And we now have some perfume.

And finally we get to see the Prince of Madargani.

Now now Ann, we all know your real name isn’t Ann, haven’t your mother taught you not to lie. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it the prince doesn’t believe her.

In fact I believe that he knows exactly who she is, or at least suspects it!
He never says so directly, he respects her wish to stay incognito, but if you read between the lines it is imo pretty obvious.

Yeah… I still don’t buy it.
Equally important, I also don’t think that the prince does!
Once again he doesn’t say it directly, in fact he doesn’t say much directly so you have to do a lot of reading-between-the-lines here.

Given the fact that Ann is in fact the daughter of a brutal dictator of a country in the middle of a bloody civil war, it is of course perfectly understandable that she doesn’t want anybody to know her true identity. If people found out that Kind Rodan’s daughter was travelling around on her own, it probably wouldn’t take long before she ended up hanging from the nearest tree, or perhaps as someone else’s pawn in a political game.

This in itself doesn’t fully explains her amnesia story, she could instead just have used a different identity and made up a story for why she is in Maurania. But we have to remember that she didn’t expect that her plane would be shot down by the rebels, and that she would end up more or less behind enemy lines. Also she was injured in the crash and severely dehydrated when they found her, so coming up with a plausible story for who she is and why she is in Maurania, would most likely had been beyond her mental capacity at the time. Simply claiming that you don’t remember anything is much easier.

However unlikely it is of course also possible that I’m wrong, and that she actually is suffering from amnesia. She certainly does a good job of trying to convince everybody of it, but even if that is the case, then there is little doubt that she at least remembers more than she is willing to admit.

She of course haven’t been in Maurania since she was 6 years old, so there is much that she doesn’t remember or know about the country, her father and her childhood, but that is perfectly normal and has nothing to do with amnesia.

Well apparently that is not going to be so easy.
The Kings troops are in full retreat, and the rebels hold the northern part of the country including the airport. In fact he expects that it will only be a matter of days before they also take the town of Madargani, so he can’t really offer her much help.

But he does have a story he wish to tell Ann:

So it seems like Ann will not only have to travel south through the land on her own, but she also have to take the panther with her!

Obviously the prince has a good reason for this, and I also noticed that he mentioned that the panther had been trained by someone before he bought it, and that it seems like she and the panther has a special relationship. Hmm… she might not remember the panther, but the panther obviously remembers her from her childhood.

Anyway we now have access to the rest of the town, so that is our next destination.


Edit: Removed the animated gifs, and instead just added the extra subtitles.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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