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Review of The Samaritan Paradox by Vegetable Party

Stars - 15

Rating by Vegetable Party posted on Jan 16, 2021 | edit | delete

marred by harmful insensitivity

What the f*ck, Samaritan Paradox.

That is my experience with this game. This game spoke to me and then it jammed a pencil into my shoulder.

I expected a conspiracy thriller. The title’s formula suggests as much. That made me a bit hesitant; conspiracies are rather suspect in general. They tend to wade through pretty murky waters, open to all kinds of messed up undercurrents, crawling with hungry political bottom feeders.

It’s a sub-genre that easily crosses over into creepy territory, is what I mean.

Oddly enough, this game manages to steer clear of anything really problematic, at least.. in the political thriller part of the plot. The personal story is essentially a deliberate lack of trigger warning. It hinges on a revelation that screams for caution. But that’s the big reveal. You didn’t see it coming.

It’s horrible. It’s not just bad or offensive, it hurt. I don’t even want to go into details. It deals with very complicated trauma and handles it without any care at all.

That is what does this game in. It looks the part. It works like a charm. It’s not structurally bad: the puzzles might not be for everyone, but they were right up my alley. I really thought we were getting somewhere, TSP, I was mostly digging your vibe. Until it came to an abrupt end.

So where does that leave us?

Ratings and recommendations are odd, kind of useful and fascinating. The first makes the subjective quantifiable. The formula can be all kinds of complicated, but will basically come down to a (mostly harmless) rationalization. If a game has mediocre graphics, but amazing gameplay, or great puzzles, but juvenile humour, how do you weigh these things against each other? The second seems to assume egocentric intent. I work at a nursing home; would I recommend Melt Banana to a resident? How can you make that decision without any distinction of the recipient? Is it just adding and subtracting, ending up with a grade that determines the position of the thumb?

There is a lot about this game that is really good. If the letdown was just a flaw, the game would probably end up with a passing grade. That makes it hard. It’s easy to dismiss a bad game that is also problematic. But what if it could be good, save for that one thing? Is it fair to throw all of that under the bus, because of one thing you don’t agree with?

I don’t know how this should work. I appreciate the creative energy that went into this game. I don’t think the developer is a bad person, or had ill intent. In fact, I would recommend the follow-up project, Whispers of a Machine. To pretty much everyone. And I have done just that.

But I can’t recommend this, because it might be damaging. It’s just as simple as that.

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Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Hard

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