Paradise Marsh Review - In Which Frogs Are The Greatest Foe
Updated: Jul 7
Paradise Marsh is an exploration game about collecting animals in a swamp. Your primary objective is to catch a certain number of each of twelve swamp-y animals with your net. Each animal has its own behaviors that make it slightly different to catch than any other, and many of them only spawn in specific sorts of place or during the day or night. Moths are nocturnal and hang out near light sources, for instance, while spiders can only see you when you're moving and live in dead trees.
On top of the animal collecting, each of the half-dozen or so biomes also has a handful of other activities to distract you. The main one is collecting messages in bottles to get backstory information, but you can also find talkative birds and some silly interactive objects like soccer balls. None of it is very deep, but since this is a very short game, it's enough to keep your main task of catching animals from feeling too repetitive.
The point of catching all of these animals is to re-build their representative constellations in the sky and return their spirits to their celestial form. Each animal you catch gives you a star in the constellation, and you can draw the constellation's shape when you have them all. The game requires you to draw the stars in exactly the right order even if another order produces exactly the same shape, which can be annoying since it doesn't show you that order, but it's not too frustrating since you also get some silly dialogue from each individual star. The animal spirits all have their own exaggerated personalities, and you get a little story as you activate each star in the constellation.
All told, it's pretty good. There's nothing revolutionary here, but it's pretty to look at and mostly fun to play. My only complaint is that, as always with collecting games, the last few animals you need to find can be frustrating. That's made worse by the lack of a map, so it can be hard to find the biome you need, the lack of a way to advance time, so you sometimes have to stand and wait for sunset, and by animals de-spawning if you miss. That last one is particularly frustrating with frogs, who are very alert, very fast, and will de-spawn if they touch water. If you're down to just frogs at the end, the game turns into running in circles around the same biome until the frogs respawn and you can make another attempt at catching them.
Time to beat: 2 hours.