The Samaritan Paradox starts on a relative high note. However, a terrible interface, poor scripting and some very contrived puzzles chip away at this misleading first impression until you reach the rushed, ridiculous ending.
From the demo, I expected a lot of code cracking. That was optimistic. Besides applying a simple substitution code, there aren’t really any more “code cracking” moments. There are some nice riddles to solve, but some ridiculous ones as well.
The game has frequent timed sections, rewinding upon failure. Often, they’re of the trial-and-error variety, i.e. you need to fail several times to even learn what obstacles you should anticipate after rewinding. Those sections are really bad, and feel a lot like padding. They’re poorly clued (you don’t always know what your ultimate goal is) and one of them features a double interface screw (an area of the screen is interactive despite not being shown as a hotspot, and you can control Ord during an animation, despite the cursor disappearing). In short, it feels like those sections were added because just featuring the good riddles would’ve made for an even shorter game.
The interface is atrocious. Every action requires multiple mouse clicks. This is actually used as some twisted puzzle mechanic at some point.
A good illustration of this issue is the dialogue mechanic. You have to scroll the list of topics (by clicking on arrows, not using the keyboard), then click on the topic of interest, then move the cursor over to the “ask” button. It’s not unplayable, but it’s just unwieldy, and after a while those small issues really get to you.
There is no hotspot highlighting, and there’s some pixel hunting. Ord is also a hotspot so after clicking on anything, he obscures the object and you have to click to make him move before you can interact with anything in the vicinity again.
The plot starts out strong but becomes silly in the end. All plot threads are abruptly tied together with a ridiculous twist and some off-screen narration promising us all has ended well. It’s difficult to describe just how jarring this is, it’s one of the worst pacing failures I’ve had the misfortune to encounter, and it really feels as though they just ran out of money and had to ship.
To summarize, a couple of good riddles can’t make up for the multitude of flaws. My advice would be to play this with a walkthrough for all but the riddle parts - then it’s worth the price of admission (about $2 currently).
Time Played: 2-5 hours