Paradigm Paradox | Common Route | First Impressions

Magical girls, monsters, and a heavy-handed examination of morality and human nature. Paradigm Paradox pays tribute to the shoujo stories that clearly inspired it, letting us see how 16-year-old girls really can change the world.

☆ Game Name: Paradigm Paradox
☆ Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory
☆ Publisher: Aksys Games
☆ Platforms: Nintendo Switch
☆ Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
☆ Price: $49.99
☆ More Info: Official Website


The year is 25XX.

The world has grown uninhabitable, forcing humanity to live in isolated colonies. Yuuki, an ordinary student, resents the monotonous life she leads at school.

Official English Website

I wish I could hype up Paradigm Paradox for its magical girl… er, magic, but I’ve never seen a magical girl show. Although it would be more accurate to say that I’ve never watched a full show, since I have seen a few episodes of different varieties here or there over the years.

So, what drew me into a game about an entire genre that I had no interest in? Simple. Romance. And not at all the fact that most of the magical girls are actually boys. I freaking love otome games, and genderbent characters are a weakness for me. Put them together and you have Paradigm Paradox.

The story stars Yuuki (our MC), a 16-year-old girl who lives a rather normal and ultimately boring life – according to her. The planet has become desolate outside of colonies that are basically walled in cities, idyllic and utopian. However, there are rumors that sometimes there are monsters that roam the night, and Yuuki happens to run into one late one night when she breaks the colony-wide curfew.

Luckily, this isn’t the end for Yuuki. Instead she is rescued by a rumored group of superheroes who supposedly combat these urban legend monsters. When she comes to, she’s safely in the “Blooms” headquarters. Yuuki learns she has a magical aptitude at least on par with those that are already part of the Blooms hero squad. When the invitation is extended for her to join up with them and fight the good fight against evil monsters, she immediately agrees.

I’ve never played a game like this before. Yuuki eagerly threw herself into dangerous situations that she was capable of combating and resolving on her own, surrounded by other girls (the LIs transform into magical girls, too), so it was intriguing to me to see this setup in a genre that tends to play the MC much closer to being actually normal.

I love my damsels in distress, but there’s something about a group of teen-aged girls kicking ass and changing the world that drew me to this game. Plus, boys whose looks take on the guise of girls. I just love games that challenge gender norms, and I’m eager to see the way they handle it.

Game Trailer


The opening scene could have been any current modern-day, school setting based anime. The story starts off with Yuuki headed to school, quietly reflecting on her uneventful life and how extraordinarily “normal” she is. It’s a bit disarming at first, because there’s nothing to really make this city feel different than the one I currently live in. I surely didn’t feel like I was 500 years in the future.

Through this internal monologue, we are inundated with world building and information that will likely prove to be important later in the game. The make up of the colony; how they protect the citizens from the elements outside of their domed city; the history of Yuuki’s “normal” life; the info dumping was extreme.

I went through the prologue pretty slowly in order to try to absorb everything. I wanted to understand this world. I asked a million questions in those first few hours, and got little to no answers in return. I had to think on it long after the prologue had ended, and found myself concocting my own theories about so many things that were left nebulous.

When the Commander shielded Yuuki from those in the upper chain, what was that about?

Why is Yuuki so ready to accept that there were secret government tunnels running throughout the entirety of the town? That’s weird, man.

Who thinks it’s “incredibly normal” to be an orphan, and the only family you have be someone you’ve never seen nor spoken to? But because you e-mail each other, you trust them implicitly?

It seemed Paradigm Paradox was setting up the reveals for the long haul. I was either going to end up frustrated that so many of these strange occurrences were hand-waved away, or we would find out later through the completion of specific routes. While I understand that it is a common way to introduce conflict, mystery, and drama, I think there were too many Chekhov’s Guns for me to keep my eye on, and we’re going to end up losing some off the back of the truck.

Story Structure

Paradigm Paradox has a whole lot of nuance that was fun to fumble through. I tend to go into games with as little information as possible to challenge myself by seeing if I can figure out how to land the route I want, and figure out the weights to choices. That made Paradigm Paradox’s unique Hero and Villain factions, locked routes, and random-ass locations that judge your moral character, both confusing and thrilling to try to navigate.

At the start of the game, your Status Page shows two gauges: “Hero” and “Villain”. When you answer a choice with favor towards one group or the other, the gauge fills by a small percentage. Clearly the routes were going to split depending on what faction you found yourself leaning towards.

While very neat in theory, the game used this method to show the player what group their answers most align with, and sometimes random locations would favor one group over another. I wasn’t a fan of being told I’d be better suited to hang with one group because I chose to go to the hallway instead of the roof. There were no hints or clues that certain places would put us in one faction or another.

Once you’ve reached the first branch of the story, you’ll head towards the group you have the highest points with. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I ended up with 100% for Villain and 0% in the Hero gauge. To be fair, it wasn’t all because of my moral ambiguity, I’m still of the mind that random locations shouldn’t count towards a group.

I learned through playing that there are only two villain routes available at the beginning of the game. And based on another very random choice, you start on one of those two. I’m not certain how the Hero routes function – probably just as random of a choice to determine which route you get – but according to Otome Kitten’s Paradigm Paradox guide, they are all open at the beginning of the game.

Note: While this first impressions is only covering the common route, I have completed a full route by this point and know that there are three main endings to a route, with possible additional early bad endings.


It’s my personal belief that if the developers wanted me to experience the game in a certain way, they would force me to play it in that fashion. I am exceedingly okay with locked routes and truth (finale) routes. However, while I decide to play in this fashion, I know some desire a little bit of guidance, so I’ve included Otome Kitten’s soft recommended play order.

Soft recommended play order:
Kamui ➜ Mihaya ➜ Ayumu ➜ Tokio ➜ Hyuga ➜ Yukinami ➜ Ibuki ➜ Ryo ➜ Finale

This order puts the Heroes first, then leads into the Villains’ routes, ending with the two locked routes and the Finale. I can see why this would be an ideal way to play the game, getting the full story from one side before moving onto the next. After all, all the Heroes are available at the start of the game, so I read that as the developers saying any of them is a good enough place to start.

However, I didn’t even get one answer for the Heroes, so I went straight to the Villains to start out. And while I don’t know what pieces of the story I’d get from the Heroes’ side; I do know that the full route I’ve already completed felt complete. In the end, play how you want to play, start with who you want to start with, and get those guys however you want to romance them.

Main Character (MC)

Name: Yuuki Takanashi
Pronouns: She/Her
Voice Actor: N/A

I struggle with calling Yuuki a layered and fleshed out character. She clearly has a history that is important to the story, and she exhibits kindness in all her actions, but she doesn’t really exist outside of the plot of Paradigm Paradox.

There is a certain naivety to her decisions, and an impulsiveness to her actions that gives the impression of youth. I would totally believe Yuuki is a 16-year-old, making bad decisions fueled by emotions. I think we’ve all been in that place in our life; I know I have. In this regard, I have no complaints about her boredom with her utopian life. She knows nothing outside of the world in which she has always existed.

What I find difficult to do though, is describe Yuuki outside of someone who goes to school and jumps at the opportunity to spice up her hum-drum life. She seems to lack hobbies. She has one friend who tells us all about Yuuki, and works as a conduit for explaining the characters and setting of the game. Yuuki literally has no family – that’s established in the first few minutes. And that’s pretty much it.

We don’t know how well she does in school. We don’t know what she likes. We don’t know if she’s someone who stands up to bullies, or doesn’t want to get involved. We have no sense of what’s important to her besides things that pertain to the plot of the game. Is she a naturally curious person? Is she friendly or withdrawn? What is it she wants to do in life once she finishes school? By this time, teens tend to plan for their future. But not Yuuki.

As the player, we get to control a lot of Yuuki’s pivotal decisions. Perhaps this is why she’s so empty, so you can steer her towards being the hero or the villain of the story. You even get the option to choose to have Yuuki fight or not at certain points in the game, letting us, the player, decide what type of person Yuuki really is. Do we fight or flee? Do we react with emotion or logic? Yuuki is what you make of her.


The introductions to the love interests in Paradigm Paradox is ridiculously sparse. We get one scene with all the heroes in boy-mode, then we get one scene with the two villains who are available.

When Yuuki is rescued by the Blooms, she then meets the heroes in girl-mode, but they don’t talk about themselves and want nothing to do with Yuuki outside of their hero-work. Understandable for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest is that they’re not supposed to allow others outside of those involved in the Blooms know that they have magical girl powers.

You can get a very brief feel for the guys if you manage to make choices that put you in character building scenes with them. But as I mentioned earlier, I stayed at 0% with the heroes, so I learned absolute fuck-all about my gender-switching compatriots.

From design alone, none of the heroes were pegged as my favorites. Something I didn’t realize until I was already deep into the game and figured out who was on which faction. Of course I would end up picking the villains as my favorite looking characters.

I do want to say, though, that despite their designs not being my favorite out of all the love interests, I think they are absolutely adorable as magical girls. I wasn’t expecting them to be so god damned cute. I might be a bit smitten.


Just as with the heroes, the villains don’t get introduced in any substantial fashion. We get one brief scene with Hyuga and Yukinami – the villains available at the start of the game – and the subsequent two kind of stroll in later in the story, much like a side-character being introduced.

But you see, I knew who I was interested in from the very beginning. Not their names, of course, but what they looked like. Much to my surprise, it turns out my two favorites are the locked villains in this game. Because of course they are!

If you manage to make choices that put you in a location that is somehow favored by the villains, you can get a brief feel for some of the characters. Very brief. I came out of my first playthrough of the common route knowing two things: Hyuga is angry. Yukinami is genki. That’s it.

Final Thoughts

It’s too early for me to make a judgement call on whether Paradigm Paradox is going to be a game I love, or a game I pawn off to make room for future favorites. The story seems complex, but suffers from an attempt to keep you coming back for more info by playing other routes. The characters feel like they will have nuance, but we see so little of them before their route that I’m not sure they’ll end up anything more than a trope made romanceable.

Playing as a magical girl is fun. I also think there is a lot of thought and care put into the character designs. I just wish I wasn’t grasping at theories relating to the themes and story because I have nothing concrete to work with. Reveals are scarce before getting into a character route. Will I even remember that detail when the writers decide to explain it?

I’m not a fan of the randomness to garnering morality points with the Heroes or Villains. Perhaps the developers used this to show how random life can be? The thing is, this is a game, and I want my games to follow reasoning and logic, that’s why I play games – to overcome puzzles and challenges, not leave it to random chance.

There’s also a very deep and pretty depressing philosophical subtext to Paradigm Paradox that we’ve barely scratched the surface of. I don’t believe the game is going to end with a lesson in morality, but I do think that it has a goal of opening conversation and criticism of some heavy topics. Unfortunately, I can’t say this for certain, since I’m still putting the story together myself and can’t see the finished picture yet.

Overall, I’m having fun. I’m enjoying playing as Yuuki, and it isn’t so bad being on the Villains’ side.

You’ll like Paradigm Paradox if you like: playing as a magical girl; having absolutely no clue as to what is going on; handsome husbandos that you don’t actually get to interact with until their own route; questioning your sexuality in a Teen-rated game; wondering if picking a location really does mean you’re a “villain” at heart.

Game Info

☆ Game Name: Paradigm Paradox
☆ Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory
☆ Publisher: Aksys Games
☆ Platforms: Nintendo Switch
☆ Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
☆ Price: $49.99
☆ More Info: Official Website

About the Author

RJ Mercy

Late blooming romance lover living the dream of playing games and writing about 2D men.

Obsessive content consumer, awkward streamer, and casual reviewer.

Fun fact: I sleep with several men in my bed at night.

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