Brief Impressions: Paranautical Activity


The CMS is full, and John commands me to play a game for the rest of the afternoon. And you know when John is bellowing out commands, you don’t just sit there. No, I darted out of my chair, had a nice long shower, popped out to the post office, grabbed some lunch, looked at some cat pictures, had a nap, and answered John’s IMs about Game Of Thrones actors. Now you might think I’m taking advantage of him, and that his authority is somehow being challenged. Not a bit of it! No, I procrastinated because my choice of game for this afternoon is Paranautical Activity . And it scares me.

I’ve had Paranautical Activity on my PC for a few months now, but I’ve kind of been avoiding it. Mostly because it looks like this. That is a whale.

And this. Whatever the hell that is.

And also this. I was shooting at a giant moth.

And I didn’t think I had the words to describe it. I mean, I could say it’s an FPS with randomised levels and randomly provided weaponry. But that doesn’t touch on the fact that Paranautical Activity is like a Music For The Jilted Generation era song made into a game. With a soundtrack to match.

At the start of each game, a tiled level is generated and you’re dropped into it with one weapon. Each room you come across provides a discrete challenge. There’s no planning ahead: the door slams behind you, the monsters drop in, and you start running for your life while blasting. Enemies are brainless, attacking according to whatever patterns they’ve been programmed to follow. You just need to keep ahead of their shots, hoping they don’t clip you and bring you one step closer to death. It is hectic, and with the right gun, say a shotgun or a machine gun, it can be a lot of fun. Dodging demonic blasts and moth’s whatevers is mostly a case of circle-strafing around the room, leaping over obstacles, and dodging the odd little hooded creeps that populate corners. Stand still and you’ll die in seconds. You move speedily, and that can be further augmented with a few pick-ups that’ll boost jumps and your running speed. These are dropped by mini-bosses, or can be bought with coins (dropped from enemies) in the level’s gift shop. There are anti-pick-ups, too.

For the small amount of space each room has, there’s plenty of variety in the walkways and monsters. It’s aimed squarely at those with an itch to have an inconsequential, high-octane blast. You could be fighting a demon one minute, or a flopping whale mini-boss the next. You could be six hearts full and circling a hopping skull boss, then ten seconds later it’s all over. You die, you lose your progression. Simple as that.

It’s good. I kept coming back for more, and suspect if I hadn’t stopped to write this I’d still be furiously clicking away at this oddly rogueish FPS. It does have one major downfall: the randomised weapon given to you at the beginning can dictate how much fun you have. For some reason it got fixated on giving me a crossbow. I hate the crossbow. A sluggishly loading slow projectile weapon isn’t a fun gun to use in this environment, and it kept happening. I took to restarting the game instead of playing with it, and it happened a lot. But it didn’t stop me playing. It just slowed me down.

It’s out now on Desura, and it’s also hoping to be up on the Steams as well.


  1. dongsweep says:

    Paranautical Strafing

  2. twig_reads says:

    Now we need a 500-part Let’s Play series by Northernlion for it to be a legit roguelike. It’s the only way!

    • jekesheraf05 says:

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  3. mjrmua says:

    “Whatever the hell that is.” A invitation to Wizards of the Coast lawsuit is what that is.

  4. SpooderW says:

    Hey, developer of the game here. Pretty souped to see my game on RPS! If anyone has any questions, I’m more than happy to answer them.

    • twig_reads says:

      Seeing there is a way of modifing bombs and movement by pickups, ever thoguth about having pickups that affect weapons aswell or do you want them to have static values?

      • SpooderW says:

        A lot of the items are focused on improving/changing your guns actually. There are damage upgrades, fire rate upgrades, poison damage for your guns, ect.

  5. Soldancer says:

    I’ve had this for a little while too, and it’s a great game for filling a few minutes to an hour’s worth of time, depending on how much I happen to suck at shooting things at that moment. I love the art style and the hectic pace. I even don’t mind the randomized guns, since I haven’t found any of them to be truly useless (though some are certainly better).

    My only real gripe with the game is that there is no mercy invincibility. It’s super easy to get caught on a corner or brazier or whatever and suck down 2-3 HP worth of hits in a row. In a game where you have like 6 HP to start, that’s pretty brutal.

    For the price, though I totally recommend this to anyone who likes shooters in the vein of old Doom, Painkiller, or Serious Sam.

    • Dominic White says:

      That’s how it worked back in Doom. Fully powered up, you felt like a tiny, ridiculously fast god of war. And then you zig when you should have zagged and catch a combined face-full of rockets, plasma and demon fire and die instantly.

      Mobility is life.

  6. Caiman says:

    I knew I wanted this within 0.5 seconds of the posted video starting to play.

  7. Shooop says:

    There is a skull spewing spiders.

    I was on the fence with this one when I saw it on Greenlight. Now I’m in.


    And jumped for it. Not sure if that was the best idea, there is a huge problem with not being able to adjust the brightness and contrast. a good percentage of the game is near pitch-black. It’s like Doom 3 all over again. And the skull that spits spiders is simply impossible – the spiders it barfs up move much faster than you do.

    Needs some tweaking before it’s ready for prime-time.

    • SpooderW says:

      I’ve never heard anyone having trouble seeing the game, your monitor must have ridiculous gamma settings. Also, the spiders do not move nearly as fast as the player, even with the lowest move speed you can get you can outrun them. Only thing I can imagine is that you can’t see them till they’re right in your face so you can’t avoid them. There are 3 or 4 biggish let’s players doing playthroughs of the game, so if there was a boss that couldn’t be beaten, I have a feeling they would notice.

  8. The Random One says:

    It’s like Doom and Unreal Tournament had a baby that after growing up started playing Binding of Isaac after taking LSD.

    I like how the pump of the pump-action shotgun doesn’t move. That isn’t a pretty model for you to stare at; it’s the part of HUD that tells you what weapon you are holding.

  9. Dominic White says:

    The music is very Black Sun Empire. I am not complaining about that one bit.