The influence of H.P. Lovecraft’s works is extremely prominent in today’s games. From the RPG adventure to the top-down twin-stick shooter and the point-and-click adventure, the themes of strange creatures from different dimensions bending time and reality in the modern world have proved to be useful fodder for game developers.
DESOLATIUM takes us on a murder mystery tour where nothing is what it seems. Let’s dive into this new adventure and try to work out where the truth lies between the cracks.
DESOLATIUM is a point-and-click adventure in the oldest of styles, where you are in a fixed point on the screen, in the first person, examining objects all around you, from there, clicking to move to the next location, but without any movement. It makes sense when you see it.
Like many gaming stories you wake up at the start of the game without any memory on how you got there. You start as Carter, awaking in a bed in a strange place, left to work out why he is there and what’s going on. But throughout the game, you play four different characters on this journey. They are on the search for a missing person, one who has been kidnapped by a mysterious cult; the link to the Lovecraft storytelling.
That storytelling – and the narrative drive – is exciting and intriguing. I don’t want to spoil anything about the tale and journey itself, but DESOLATIUM does keep you going with its clues and texts, complemented with solid voice-over. I could have done with one less character in the story though, as I felt the different voices proved to be a bit much for the size of the game. But the dialogue is well-written and there are some great ideas in place.
Gameplay-wise you are presented with one fixed area at a time. You can look around this area as you wish, feeling very much like looking at a house from a letting agency. To move to the next area you click on objects, solving whatever is going on in that area to move forward. Honestly, this setup takes a while to get used to, as you attempt to orientate yourself, but after a while, I quite enjoyed the way it played.
The puzzles are good, without being overly complicated or too obscure. It mostly focuses on examining the right object to be able to move on, but there are a couple of different puzzles that mix things up; like lockpicking to be had. The key to DESOLATIUM is to try and examine everything possible, interacting with as much as you can. Only then will the answer appear for you to solve. As is very much the case with many of these games, personally I found myself occasionally lost in what to do, but a bit of backtracking always allowed for the solution in the end.
The visuals work as a mixture of great hand-drawn sections, along with photo-realistic graphics in its locations. This is very impressive but for some reason, it did make my Series X go into overdrive, pushing the fan on. However, the visuals are very impressive and use the different mix of styles in this point-and-click adventure cleverly.
The sound is good as well, combining with the story to complement it satisfactorily. The voice-over work is solid as well throughout with some good performances.
DESOLATIUM is an unusual, yet enjoyable, point-and-click adventure that is well worth getting your teeth into. The visuals are very impressive, whilst the atmosphere and soundtrack are equally good. It’s a journey to enjoy, even if I found there to possibly be one character too many included. The mechanics may take a while to get used to, but the puzzles are good, even if they rarely make for a challenge.
On the whole, if you are in need of a new take on the Lovecraft mythos, then give DESOLATIUM a go.