Developer: The Brotherhood
Publisher: Untold Tales
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, and PlayStation 4)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/05/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Beautiful Desolation begins in South Africa in the late 1980s. During a stormy drive home, we’re introduced to our main character Mark (A Richard Branson, circa 1990s looking gentleman) and his wife driving home during a thunderous monsoon-like storm. Almost immediately an earth-shattering event rocks the very foundations of Mark’s (and the rest of the world’s) life when a mysterious triangular object appears in the sky dubbed “The Penrose” changes society and technology as they know it forever. Flash forward multiple years and with the confirmation that Mark’s wife didn’t survive the prologue of the story, Mark is now hellbent on solving the mystery of “The Penrose” using the help of his Brother and a robotic guard dog, be it for either revenge, curiosity or perhaps fate?
Story Story Story
Not wanting to spoil the rest of the short but sweet adventure, it is safe to say that Beautiful Desolation does live up to its namesake graphics-wise, The conversion to Nintendo Switch for the most part is quite impressive, but using Handheld mode is not the optimum way to play the game.
The story of the game is its bread and butter, it is by far the strongest aspect of the game lasting on average around 7-8 hours (which I finished in 3 smaller sittings) bogged down by boring fetch quests and rudimentary “open-world” maps that allow you to traverse back and forth to multiple locales.
There is no combat in this game, nor fail states so nothing is locked out for the player and you won’t see a game over screen, it is a pure exploration and traditional ‘Point and Click’ item management game in between narrative choices that seem to have repercussions in the story but ultimately do not pay off. It is also notable that the game has a few mini-games which include Dice Battling and such which offer nothing more than a distraction to the narrative.
How does it look?
Graphically the game does have a slick sense of sci-fi world-building, with cluttered shanty towns and visually impressive pre-rendered backdrops and decent character models throughout.
The framerate is good for the most part albeit with quite big drops from time to time in handheld mode, but as the game is story-focused with zero combat, this isn’t a huge problem and is easily overlooked.
The Voice Acting is Sublime
The narrative and voice acting are stellar and the strongest aspect of the game with convincing South African accents and mannerisms throughout. The soundtrack is also magnificent utilising futuristic sounds with acoustic backing and traditional African music boosting the atmosphere tenfold!
Unfortunately, the biggest gripe I had with the game has to be the loading times. I can safely say an hour of my playtime had to be in the loading screens (which are not present in the PC version) hampering down my enjoyment of visiting the beautiful towns and locations scattered around the otherworldly South African zones. Some sections require you to participate in fetch quests between four locations in rapid succession which prolongs the adventure even further due to the aforementioned load times.
The controls adapted to the Switch are adequate which get the job done though I didn’t encounter any particularly noteworthy Switch enhancements. To be expected with a traditional Point and Click adventure on Switch, the game screams to be played with Mouse and Keyboard which sadly is not an option.
By far the main issue I had with the game has to be how it plays on Handheld (which is slightly improved on the big screen) with noticeable frame rate drops and a lack of depth perception that can confuse throughout.
It’s hard to state why you should opt to play the Switch version over the superior PC game unless this is your only option. It was worth sticking with to the very end due to the strong voice acting and story, it is just a shame the port to Switch hampers this enjoyment massively.
Strong story beats and characters restricted by a poor port make it harder for me to recommend over the PC version, however beneath the long load times and framerate issues, there’s a strong narrative and excellent story hidden within which is worth your time!
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase A Beautiful Desolation for £17.99 on the Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.