Paranoid (PC)

Madmind Studios have been plugging away with their Agony series for a few years now, with several games already under their belt and more on the way. Paranoid is a shift from that somewhat. Gone is hell, to be replaced by a paranoia infused adventure through 80’s back streets & sewers. A worthy break from the fires of hell? Lets take a look

You play as Patrick Calman who after losing all their family to mysterious circumstances, outside of a sister that went missing, now spends their days isolated from the outside world due to the trauma creating something of a prison for himself. A phone call one evening from his sister, a decade after her disappearance, sets Patrick on a dark & terrifying path to face his own demons.

The story is a relatively interesting one as the characters mental breakdowns and choices you then take early influencing it’s direction. One of the main draws of the game for me was the inclusion of a Vydija storyline, which forms the other main story branch, possibly may have been a pull for most other Madmind fans as well. The game only lasts 2-4 hours on a single route but the multiple paths will take a few playthroughs to see where all the insanity can lead.

Set during the 80’s, the game carries a dark and grimy atmosphere that also aids in hiding some of the rougher spots. For the most part things are good and you’ll b e seeing plenty of the typical inner city locations, but these get mixed in with hallucinations or mental breakdowns that can completely change where you are or who you are dealing with in an instant. Audio is decent too, especially with Atmos for headphones, and goes some way to adding to the atmosphere – especially as your paranoia never shuts up.

Probably the main downside to the presentation, outside of some stiff animations, is the performance. With my system (R7 5800X3D/32GB/RTX 3090) the game actually performs pretty well at 4K/60 with high settings- until a bug hits? After a few minutes GPU usage maxes, watts goes out of control and much heat is exhausted. You’d expect different areas, different usage, but it literally does it if you even stay in the same room. Performance doesn’t worsen tho, and restarting fixes it for a few more minutes, but it really is an oddity.

For the most part you’ll be exploring these atmospheric locales and solving rudimentary puzzles to progress, all while keeping an eye on your health and sanity to keep hallucinations and mental breakdowns in check. To spice things up there’ll be plenty of shadowy figures and hallucinations (or are they hallucinations?) that will wanna throw down. Best grab a weapon, like a hammer, and swing that instead as the fist fights can drag on. Keep an eye out for button prompts during a fight as these can allow you to counter or execute an enemy, providing you seem them before they disappear. Best to just keep hammering away.

Unfortunately there’s a catch and that comes in the form of bugs, somewhat janky feeling combat aside. While some work has gone in post release, still these things rears its head all too often as progress can get blocked by a bugged puzzle or clue you just can’t find. Sure reloading a checkpoint usually fixes it, but then the checkpoints aren’t always so generous – I once lost over 35 minutes of gameplay due to a bugged door not opening and having to reload the last checkpoint

As a fan of Madmind Studios other works, this one seemed to have something interesting going on with their usual flair outside of the hellish setting, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out. It’s a shame as Paranoid no doubt has stuff going for it, there’s atmosphere in spades and some of the freaky set pieces are pure insanity, but the bugs in particular decimate this games puzzles sometimes and the combat feels jankier than previous games. Some post launch work has gone in so far, but its tough to say if it will ever be truly fixed up. May still be worth a look if you have a high enough tolerance and are looking for something out of the ordinary to lose yourself in for a few hours, and the price is right of course.



Just like Patrick you’ll end up believing the bugs are out to get you too

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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