The point and click adventure genre is having a rough couple of decades. With the popularity of the more fast paced, action packed games, fewer studios are willing to assign budget to a genre that is slowly dying after its golden age in the 90s. Despite the troubles of the genre, The Brotherhood Games have been trying to provide high quality games for its fans since their first official title, Stasis, in 2015. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Beautiful Desolation is finally here.
Beautiful Desolation is a 2D isometric point and click adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic future. Developed and published by The Brotherhood, this is the studio’s second title in the genre. We explore the destroyed landscape of a distant future, solve its puzzles and discover different societies and religions in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Can Beautiful Desolation give another living breath to the genre? We’ll see.
Beautiful Desolation is available for purchase on Steam for your regional pricing.
Beautiful Desolation takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, populated by immortal, augmented people most of whom has lost a big part of their humanity. However, the story starts in the 1980, when the Penrose, a massive floating monolith appears in the sky, above the Atlantic Ocean. The investigations and researches on this strange artifact, has led to a rapid advancement in technology and science.
10 years after the appearance of the Penrose, the main protagonist, Mark Leslie, convinces his brother Don, who is a security personnel at the Penrose, to take him to the center of this structure so he can find out more about it. While on the Penrose, something happens that takes Mark, Don, and a security drone nearby, to the future. Now Mark is trying to find a way back, with the help of his brother Don and their new drone companion, POOCH.
Beautiful Desolation has a unique post-apocalyptic world with a unique story. The extremely rapid advancement of technology and science has caused the society to collapse. While exploring the world, we don’t see many humans. What we see are defaced, augmented and immortalized consciousness of the people who used to be humans, but now are just part of some machines, living in misery in a decaying world. Scientists have been dreaming about a way to transfer human minds into computers, and the game pictures the worst case scenario of this idea.
The function (or dysfunction) of society and religion in this world is thought provoking. You will face a multitude of moral choices that will have a lasting effect on how the story will go on. It’s always hard to say which choice is right, but it’s interesting to see how they change the course of the story, even if they turn out to be the worse option.
Beautiful Desolation follows the tried and true way of classic point and click games. You click on the screen to move around, click on the NPCs to start a conversation, and you click on items and objects to interact with them. There is also the addition of dialogue options which can have a great impact on the story.
In comparison to some other point and click games, Beautiful Desolation has an easy to use inventory and codex section. The concept of using the items in your inventory to interact with the world has been simplified. When you need to use an item from your inventory, there is an indication of what item you need. You don’t need to use every item on every pixel of the world when your progression is halted. Because of your portable computer device that gives you access to all of your previous conversations, and the ability to navigate the different areas of the world quickly, going back to search for missed clues is not as frustrating as it usually is in the point and clicks genre.
The chain of the events is reasonable and there isn’t any point in the game where you feel clueless on what to do and where to go. Even though there isn’t a quest line or objective list, we often know what we need to do. This is a basic requirement that used to be absent from some classic point and click adventure games.
The game also has a few mini-games that are supposed to change the pace and feel of the game once in a while, but sadly fail. Most of the mini games are long and repetitive, and the fact that they are essential in the progression of the story makes them a mandatory break from the game that I wish we could skip. The reason behind these types of additions in point and click games is understandable, but the result is usually not desirable. Most of this genre’s players are here to explore the story and solve puzzles, and the mini games can be a frustrating aspect of adventure games if not handled carefully.
Overall the game has a slightly improved gameplay for its genre. But it might only appeal to the old veterans of adventure games. If Beautiful Desolation succeeds at bringing in new players to the genre, it won’t be because of its gameplay.
Graphics and Audio
The game definitely stays true to its name. This is a beautiful desolation. Considering the fact that The Brotherhood Games is a two-man operation run by Bischoff brothers, the quality of the world design is stunning. The world is colorful, detailed, diverse, and mysterious. There are numerous moments where you would wish you could zoom in more to enjoy every detail of the world. The character design perfectly fits the theme of the story. Most inhabitants of this world are augmented in one way or another, keeping a general norm while also showing different appearances based on geography or culture. For a fantasy setting, the world looks realistic and lived in.
The interface and conversation screen falls behind in the visual design quality. Because of the larger scale of models in close up views, there is a different approach to design and animation in dialogue screens. This downgrade in quality especially falters in contrast with how good the world looks from the isometric view. Even though there are some facial expressions that can affect your approach to the conversation, the overall experience of this interface feels awkward.
Mick Gordon has composed a suiting soundtrack for the game. The music has a mysterious sci-fi theme that helps the game feel more engaging. It also has a nostalgic ’90s vibe that is a good reminder of old school adventure games. The game has a talented cast of voice actors. Known names like Julian Casey, Sarah Williams, and Ryan and Glen Copper help bring the characters of Beautiful Desolation to life.