We live in times of much hate and misconception; of much unjustified violence and rage. Instead of understanding the other, we want to erase them. Instead of looking at the darkness inside, we blame everyone and anyone for the lack of light. We live in difficult times.
And in times like these, a game like Finding Paradise is nothing short of a wonder.
But you know, I was afraid.
I was afraid, I confess. Afraid of what kind of game this would turn out to be, afraid of how I would perceive it. Six years ago, maybe more, To The Moon made a huge impression on me. Better saying, it hit me like a battering ram, broke every single defense I had and left me completely exposed and vulnerable. To this day, when I hear “Everything’s Alright”, a lot of those same emotions come back. It is not only due to how well the story is written (fantastically well, I must say) but also due to my own personal experience that helped me relate so much with almost everything presented in To The Moon.
Needless to say, it was one of the most important games I ever played, and one of most amazing works of art I ever experienced.
But a lot of time passed. I grew older, a lot of hardships came and I am more cynical and bitter than six years ago. And tired. Much more tired. And while I did enjoy quite a lot A Bird’s Story, for me this game right here was the real deal.
So yeah, I was afraid. Afraid that, in the end, I would not be able to live the same experience as before. That I had changed too much to care anymore.
And I was partially right. It wasn’t the same experience as before. This time, it went beyond.
While To The Moon will always have its’ place in my heart for being such a intimate and relatable story, Finding Paradise has a place in my very being. It is not just relatable, it is constructive, it fills us inside. This time I didn’t finish the game feeling vulnerable; instead I felt gratitude, I felt happy for who I am and who I was. The tears came, of course they came, but it wasn’t the desperate waterfall of before. They were warm, comforting.
To me, Finding Paradise shows what kind of man Kan Gao is. He understands people, he is sensible and understands humans and their conflicts, their difficulties. Loneliness, regret, denial, trauma, fear, defense mechanisms, coping mechanisms, all the hardships that we constantly face on a deeper level within us are present in his simple games. Simple, but not simplistic.
And the silly humor of his characters and their mannerisms, their personalities so well defined, brings us even closer to them. It helps us care about a bunch of pixels in such a way that so many huge developers, with their huge sums of money spent on mo-cap and thousands upon thousands of polygons per character, never seem to achieve.
But most of all, Kan Gao was able to mature, was able to grow during this six years window between the two games. He didn’t just make a sequel that feels the same but with a different color. He made a game that stands on its’ own while building itself on top of his predecessor. While To The Moon main theme was “Who you really are”, Finding Paradise main theme is “What is really important”. Going from one theme to another, while keeping the soul of the games pure, intact, that is maturity, that is growth. More than that I cannot say.
What I can say is this:
As we dream and as we grow
We have to learn to let things go
But let the wonder never fade
Though we’ve turned 10,000 pages
Flying high or stuck below