No, not the 10-volume 17th-century poem. Jesus Christ, why would I write about real literature in my porn game blog?
Paradise Lost is the first eroge written by Masada, and essentially serves as the first entry in the 神座万象 series. Lesser-known than its more recent, higher-budget siblings Dies Irae and Kajiri Kamui Kagura, Paradise Lost is more standalone than the former two and thus not many have bothered reading it. Although it’s technically the first game, its connection to Dies Irae isn’t really spelled out for you until late into Yakou’s path in Kajiri Kamui Kagura where the entire setting becomes more apparent. Regardless, it’s quite a good read despite being 10 years old and having an entirely different cast.
Paradise Lost takes off in a dystopian setting that comes off as much more blatantly dark than its successors’. The stage is in a city known only as Sodom, which is separated from the outside world known as “Zoar”. Ruled by the gang known as the Infinite Viper (someone please tell me how to romanize アンリヒカイト), the law of “the strong eat the weak” is rampant throughout Sodom to the point that if you’ve lived beyond the age of 20, you most likely have murdered someone in order to do so. It is widely believed that outside lies a peaceful world free of the everyday violence so frequently seen in Sodom, but there is a closely guarded Gate that prevents residents of Sodom from leaving so no one has actually left and returned to confirm.
Rampant throughout Sodom are violent gangs, drug-users, cyborgs, and the like who have enhanced their physical abilities in order to live under the strong-eat-weak law. The city is divided into sectors, and lies upon ruins that prove the existence of a highly advanced civilization that was wiped out in a massive war. Many people search the ruins to uncover ancient technology to sell for money, but the further you go into the ruins, the more poisonous the air gets. The story is told through two protagonists (and whole lots of chunks from other characters’ POVs), but is mostly linear with route branches happening in the final chapter.
People say Paradise Lost is like a prototype of Dies Irae, and that isn’t untrue. They’re rather similar in structure and tone, and it’s neat to see how certain concepts that get a passing mention in ParaLost get developed later on. ParaLost also strongly draws its references from Biblical sources and the actual 17th century poem of the same name and uses them in a chuuni way just like you’d expect. While the latter parts aren’t nearly as grandiose as I wanted them to be (something that was made up for in great volumes by Dies Irae) and the fights in the final chapter were rather short and felt like they were brushed aside for the plot and infodumps due to time constraints, there’s still plenty of action and cool chants to go around.
I initially berated ParaLost’s final boss for having a monotone voice and essentially not making as obvious of an impression as Mercurious/Reinhard/anyone else that plays a final boss in subsequent Masada eroge, but they aren’t really fit to be compared. Satanael feels much more まとも and level-headed than pretty much any other final boss character, and nearing the end, you’ll quickly see that he isn’t really a traditional antagonist role. Satanael’s role in the story draws some parallels with Satan in the actual poem titled Paradise Lost, who happened to be the protagonist of said poem…
The story starts off with Ryle, a guy who looks so edgy you might just bleed when you see his portrait on the screen. He’s a tsundere. People call Ren from Dies Irae a tsundere protagonist, but believe me, this guy is hardcore. The climatic scene where he and the heroine promise to tell each other “I love you” at the same time on a count of three but then backs out of it and remains silent while letting her spill out her feelings is probably one that best illustrates this fact. He’s a rude guy who appears to approach matters casually, but knows what he’s doing. Probably the character who would have significantly benefited from a voice, given how distinct his personality is.
Ryle is know as the Death Scythe due to his weapon of choice and a less-than-peaceful reputation. He shares a body with a being known as Nacht, who likes to go on a violent rampage when he comes out, and eagerly waits for the day when he can fully take over Ryle’s body. Every night in Ryle’s dream, the two battle and end in mutual destruction, which keeps their souls in equilibrium without one entirely taking over the body. His body isn’t that of a regular human’s either, for he has not aged in 10 years and is resistant to the poison that clouds over the ruins.
The main heroine for Ryle is Ril, a girl with angelic wings found under the ruins. Her name is short for Lilliel, and while she initially appears to be naive and innocent, she develops a playful side and enjoys teasing Ryle while getting pouty when she’s the target of his (meaner) teasing. Although she seem like the pure and peaceful type, she has her surprisingly cold moments like when she states that the strong eating the weak is an obviously natural law for humanity.
Ril is probably the most memorable heroine out of the three, thanks to the fact that she’s the only heroine for Ryle. Their chemistry is excellent and creates a great deal of humorous banter, especially combined with the entertaining side cast in their side of the story. The scenes with Anise and Carmine are great, and provide the little humor that illuminates the otherwise dark setting and story.
The other protagonist is Known Christ, a straight-laced young man who lives to protect his beloved younger sister. Being part of the “weak” side of the population that is fated to be crushed by the strong, Known earns his living by selling his body parts and dealing drugs. By the beginning of the game, most of his limbs have been sold and replaced by cheap mechanical parts that don’t actually make him any stronger like the people who became cyborgs to excel at combat. He lives a hard life, with his pure and innocent sister who he tries to prevent going outside (read: hikki neet) as his only salvation and motivation to earn money. His story sets off as his drug dealing business comes to a halt due to a certain Death Scythe messing up the circulation of an expensive and highly-demanded drug, and he eventually sets the goal of bringing his sister to Zoar, which he believes to be a peaceful place where they can live normally.
While Known’s setup appears to be the most sympathetic, the guy is also obviously and desperately drunk on love and the type of hope that doesn’t exist in their world. By the time one reaches Known’s story they will likely have taken in a certain sadistic side that can’t help but want to see the boy crash and burn and get a slap in the face with reality. After all, his story is pretty much like a train that is about to crash and everyone but him can see it coming, but no one tells him because they all do want to see him ram into a wall (most likely including the reader). He is very much like the angst-riddled teenager who has a small scope of the world and a narrow vision.
Sophia Christ is Known’s pure and sheltered (adopted) little sister, because well, not leaving the house is pretty much the only way you can remain innocent in this city. Known works to earn money for her sake, and she prepares dinner and patiently waits for him to come home. They pretty much mean the world to each other, but Sophia doesn’t seem to know about the shady jobs her brother does for money. For some reason she is sought after by every major bad guy.
Despite being the one thing that keeps Known’s sanity in check, Sophia’s mostly passive role in the story means that she isn’t going to be as memorable as the others. You can brush her off as the typical Damsel in Distress role, but she has her surprisingly good moments, and a side character makes a convincing argument in that one cannot automatically assume being protected equates to being weak.
Ast is the other heroine for Known, and the one who has a more active role in the story and gets a lot of chances to shine in battle. Her name is short for Astaroth. She is assigned to look after Known after a certain turn in the story, and she starts off like an emotionless porcelain doll. She works under Satanael and is his most loyal servant, but begins to develop and act on emotions after interacting with Known, per the course of this type of character. Has the best (or really, only) battle moments out of the heroines.
Her path of developing emotions, recognizing them, and rejecting them out of confusion while doing contradictory things is done gradually and convincingly, but rather conventionally, so it ultimately depends on if you like this kind of character. The fact that her route ends without a proper romantic h-scene is kind of a blow to her fans, but this isn’t really the kind of eroge to play for the ero. Still, it would have illustrated the development of their relationship better with the contrast to her earlier h-scenes. You can blame the siscon protagonist.
Also worth mentioning are the side characters, who are delight to watch. From the hilarious banters of Anise and Carmine to the tension-riddled conversations between Judas and Lilith, they’re every bit as compelling as the main characters. Judas Strife, in particular, is highly memorable due to his voice-acting and active role in the story and battles. He’s very…Dies Irae…compared to the rest of the cast.
This game has a low budget. The art is old and inconsistent (most evident in the ero CG), and aside from a few good CGs, rough and not very nice to look at even for a 2004 eroge. It’s particularly difficult to accept because I’ve gone on to associate Masada writing with G Yusuke art. The art in Paradise Lost is done by someone who doesn’t seem to have drawn for any other eroge, and while a few CGs do look nice, the majority do not. The coloring team went for a soft style, which seems to be pretty common for its time despite a palette with a stronger contrast working better for this genre. I don’t dislike the general style of the art, but it needed more polish and consistency. Good thing they reserved the better-looking CGs for the good fights. Also a good deal of the CGs are on a blank or a very basic background so they look like they’re missing something. The actual backgrounds in the game are kind of bare too.
The portraits aren’t very good either.
The music consists of 21 tracks. There should have been more. And while the soundtrack doesn’t reach the level of the company’s later outputs, it’s quite decent for what it is. There’s a certain coherency about it that’s nice, and a few tracks that I really liked. There isn’t an opening song with vocals, but the instrumental opening is quite nice and reminiscent of older games, and I like how they play the “next episode preview” and opening sequence before each chapter in the story.
Special effects and the like are pretty much non-existent. Not that I expected them to be there given the game’s age and budget.
The game would also really benefit from being fully-voiced. There’s a bunch of unvoiced side characters and after playing a lot of fully-voiced eroge it’s starting to bother me when there are lengthy conversations between a voiced and unvoiced character. Ryle also needs a voice. One of the reasons why Judas ended up being memorable was because of Renaissance Yamada’s voice (and glorious Engrish). Also Satanael sounds monotone, and while you can argue that it fits the nature of his character, it sounded too 棒読み. Perhaps Reinhard/Mercurius/Amakasu just sounded too crazy.
Worth a mention, because while the ero scenes aren’t very erotic, they’re also rather relevant in showing character relationships. There’s a couple of scenes where they do actual important talk during it, and there’s plenty of scenes where you don’t even see them ‘finish’ because someone gets mad or hits a trauma point. There’s a blowjob scene where they discuss the upcoming mission in between the moans. It’s…interesting to see how the ero is used here, compared to Senshinkan 10 years later which had fewer but more typical eroge ero scenes.
Decent read, although it’s probably hard to convince someone to read it before they get into Dies Irae. Doesn’t reach the same levels of grandiosity and ends up feeling more like a normal action eroge most of the time, but still presents some interesting things and entertaining scenes. It’s pretty much standalone and the connection to Dies is weaker than the connection between Dies and KKK, but it’s worth a read if you crave more Masada or the 神座万象 universe.
Man, conclusions are a pain in the ass to write. Reviews are hard. Ril is best girl.