Beautiful Desolation is a point and click adventure game that puts you in the shoes of a gloriously mullet-ed man who is investigating the presence of a mysterious triangular object that’s appeared in the sky. Through a combination of puzzle solving, dialogue trees and aimlessly wandering around gorgeously rendered landscapes, you start to peel back the cosmic mystery that’s upended your life.
Beautiful Desolation starts out very dramatically as you and your wife are driving through a thunderstorm to go pick up your brother from an undisclosed location. The dialogue reveals that your brother has a reoccurring problem that’s put a lot of stress on your relationship with him, but before you actually arrive anywhere a mysterious shape in the sky called the penrose appears, and some sort of wave of energy flows out of it that ends up flipping your car and killing your wife.
A decade later your character arrives at a hangar owned by your brother in the hopes of getting him to pilot his helicopter up to the penrose that’s still in the sky. Your character has basically become obsessed with the true nature of this structure, eagerly laying out his intentions of retrieving some sort of data set from the now government (I think?) controlled penrose. Once up there, you collect the data and things immediately go wrong. Suddenly, you’re whisked away to another place in another time where you’re arrested by robots, and in transit to the authorities for questioning are shot down. Thus begins your search for your brother as well as a way home and probably some explanation about what the hell is going on.
Typically, this is where I’d discuss the gameplay side of Beautiful Desolation, but the gameplay really doesn’t seem like the main attraction. You’re basically just clicking on points of interest, interfacing with them using your PDA (which is more or less a handheld PipBoy,) and dragging items around your inventory to combine them. That is until later on when you get control of a spaceship and can head from point of interest to point of interest.
The real star of the show seems to be the story and characters, rightfully so considering this is an adventure game. You’ll talk to several other beings on your travels, picking from a few different options of dialogue in an attempt to further your goals and learn what you can. Since starting the game, I haven’t met a character that wasn’t fun to talk to, although I admit I’m still very early on in the game so that could all change. I also can’t say how much of an impact on the story your choices have, but I’m hoping that in this dialogue driven experience it’s pretty severe.
While I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of Beautiful Desolation up until now, one thing that proved to be a nuisance has to do with the beautifully rendered world you traipse around. While it’s a delight to look at, it also has led to several instances of me not knowing what was walk-able terrain and what wasn’t. I must of killed fifteen minutes trying to find a way out of the map I was on, only to accidentally click my way onto a ramp that didn’t immediately read as a ramp. Everything looks so damn good in this game, that I just assumed I couldn’t walk on it. There’s an indicator that’s supposed to tell me if I can traverse an area or not, but clearly it didn’t register for me.
Beautiful Desolation is a game that intrigues me more than it does interest me, at least that’s how I feel about it a few hours in. No element of it has either gripped nor repelled me yet, and I’m hoping that changes soon. Where Beautiful Desolation ends up going is something I can’t answer yet, but I’m definitely going to give it another shot and see if anything changes.