Every once and a while a game comes along that becomes my happy place. A safe space where time and objective hold no power; where you can take a deep breath. Paradise Marsh is my new happy place. It’s a game of endless repeated exploration that rewards you for enjoying the simplicity of the surroundings.
The initial gameplay and style of Paradise Marsh is one of a bright, almost cell shaded, marsh that is filled with all sorts of insects and creatures for you to catch and learn about. The marsh itself is endless, so any direction for exploration is warranted due to procedural generation. As you travel through the infinite spaces, you’ll happen upon bugs to collect with your trusty net. Doing so will provide an entry on the creature in your journal and a suggestion on how many to collect. Also messages in bottles provide a nice short story to accompany your exploration.
The collection aspect is a fun goal if you need it but it’s an unnecessary one as exploring can quickly put you into a real positive zen state. While walking through the marshes, you’ll see day and night cycles (with different creatures to collect,) and weather patterns. Winter will turn to Spring, Spring will bring the rains and into Summer. It’s a peaceful rhythm to experience. There are also a few differentiating land mass events that you will encounter like geysers, bridges, trees and other things that pepper the environment.
Collecting the creatures of the marshes is also quite a modest affair. You can sneak up slowly and swipe them up with your net. That’s pretty much it, with a few variances on when and where they can be encountered. Once collected, there are obelisks that can be used to access the stars in the sky. Each bug has their own unique constellation and if you collect the full number from your journal, you can complete their constellation, rewarding you with a pleasant short story or folk tale. These constellations are just a way to track bug collection but with the random nature of the marshes, there’s very little urgency presented.
Paradise Marsh provides a pure, clean experience that doesn’t overload you with a lot of frills. It presents you with the opportunity to enjoy a nice relaxing space in which to aimlessly explore. Too often we are bombarded with overly complicated media and systems in games, so to see something so simple feels refreshing. Paradise Marsh is a humble game with a humble price point, that doesn’t do a lot, but does it very well.