As you all know, I have been following the development of Beautiful Desolation for the past few years. We also recently had an opportunity to chat to the developers, The Brotherhood.
So far I am about 10 hours into the game, and I am loving it. There are a few small things that grate me, but we'll get to those...
The artwork is beautiful, the story interesting and well told, with a lot of local flavour thrown in to spice it up and make it very uniquely South African.
Beautiful Desolation starts with a cut scene of you driving a VW Bug down a road on a stormy night. An unidentified flying object appears, causing a lot of drama. We skip forward a few years and see that we are living relatively peacefully with this strange triangle shape floating off the coast of Cape Town.
More than that I don't want to say... No spoilers here!
The story pulls you in and you feel involved in everything that happens.
This is a subtle point-and-click adventure with a lot of information, so pay attention! Everything is important. Don't expect this game to hold your hand.
There is no quest log, though you do have a journal (called a codex) that all the important information is saved in — lots of clues and tips. A quest log would have been great just in case you forget something from one play session to the next and you need a nudge to pick up where you left off.
I found that playing with good old pen and paper handy worked for me. It is a lot easier to write down clues than opening and closing the codex constantly. And you will need the codex.
One other thing that bugged me is that there is still an element of pixel hunting to the game. While exploring an area you can run past something on the floor a few times before you see it. There are gold items that you can turn in for credits to buy items in the game and they are very well hidden.
Overall, Beautiful Desolation is brilliant.
The voice acting is great and characters are well developed. POOCH, one of your companions, just crawls into your heart. Combined with the music and visuals, the game's atmosphere is fantastic.
As a local, there is something special about seeing our local slang, places like Brakpan, words like shongolo and shebeen, and the TIK game immortalized in a game. It will be interesting to see how this nod to South African culture translates to players outside of the country.
Local pricing is very good, R130 for the game and R79 extra for the deluxe edition.