Before we talk about Doomsday Paradise, the debut work of Lemonade Flashbang—a studio owned by solo game developer Shadi Taha— we have to step back in time. In 2018, Beautiful Glitch dropped Monster Prom onto the Steam platform, a queer-friendly multiplayer virtual board game of sorts where you, the player, attempt to ask a monster student of your choice out to the titular Monster Prom in a matter of three weeks.
It was enough of a hit to lead to two more entries in the series, each more fearlessly queer than the last, and given the success of the series (the original Monster Prom Steam release sits at a 93% rating with 11,000+ reviews at the time of this writing) it is surprising that there haven’t been more ships launched by their success.
The success of Monster Prom isn’t just in its queer friendliness, though. its particular lighthearted combination of queer romance with the multi-player, randomized storytelling each run does. That idea was largely inspired by 2013’s The Yawhg, and well… hold on. You’re probably wondering at this point where Doomsday Paradise, the review you clicked on, fits in to all of this, aren’t you?
Going to Sunset Town
It is kind of impossible to talk about Doomsday Paradise without acknowledging its lineage. If you have spent even an iota in Monster Prom, you instantly get the particular genre, as sparsely populated as it may be, that this game fits into. Doomsday Paradise is a multi-player dating sim where you, while trying to save both Sunset Town and the world from miscellaneous apocalyptic threats, you also try to confess your love to one of the game’s many date-able characters.
Where Doomsday Paradise sets itself apart from any of its contemporaries is the choice to merge the visual novel shell of Monster Party and The Yawhg with a deck builder battle system. It’s very easy to pick up and play, and it makes the runs through Sunset Town wildly re-playable for groups of players interested in battling demons. And there’s a lot of demons—and stories—in Doomsday Paradise to keep the action fresh. Boasting over 100 endings across 12 different romance-able options (some of them secret, mind you!) Doomsday Paradise is ready made for the unlockable obsessed.
Doomsday Paradise is All Dessert
That’s both its greatest strength and, depending how you like the silly-cute (and sometimes, silly-horny) writing of Doomsday Paradise , its greatest curse. Doomsday Paradise is all dessert, and I know we all think we want cake for every meal, but after Micah the Crying Angel interrupts run after run with his one joke/defining character trait, there are aspects of this game that you simply have to be in the mood for to enjoy.
This manifests itself not just in the writing, but in the combat itself. At a set interval between turns, you will fight demons. For the sake of brevity, you collect randomly drawn cards through your “actions” on each turn, which are used in turn-based battles. These “actions” simply involve making choices that give you a 1-2 minute snippet of story text to read.
The combat is fun, don’t get me wrong. But, the min-max obsessed will probably struggle to enjoy the deck-building part. There is something of a disconnect between the story and gameplay aspects: yes, you can pursue particular battle builds, and yes, there are some romance routes where your romantic partner will join your party in battle. But in comparison to other deck builders within the genre, Doomsday Paradise is light, and far more beholden to RNG than you might expect.
A Perfect Party Game for a Gaggle of Gay Gamers
But how much that matters to you ultimately depends upon how you gel with the world it’s in. For example: Vando the Wizard, and nearly always shirtless vampire, kicked down the door of one of my playthroughs to reveal that he needs to hire the hottest, sluttiest men to work at his castle. In the next playthrough, he became the town’s masked superhero, Mask Man. Everyone knew it was Vando but played along with him, anyways.
No matter how you play it or what your aim is, Doomsday Paradise is full of casual charm, queer magic, and a lot of replay value. Also, its low price tag makes it an easy recommendation due to the sheer amount of content unlocked with each run. Doomsday Paradise hasn’t reinvented or perfected Monster Prom‘s formula, but it has certainly given it a fresh spin.
+Extremely replayable thanks to the sheer amount of stuff in it
+…including over 400 scenarios, making it very difficult to get two similar playthroughs
+Light, easy to pick up and play
+Genuinely fun and funny world full of unashamedly queer monster folk
+The dream-game for fans of unlocking-through-playing
+You always feel like you get something, no matter how a run of this game actually goes
+Really makes you wonder why there aren’t more Monster Prom-like games with battle mechanics
-Thin combat system will probably annoy more hardcore players
-These characters are cartoons in every sense of the word. Romance is cute—not deep—at the end of the world