Sunday, June 8, 2014

Keurig would be proud - The Desolate Hope

The Desolate Hope, by Scott Cawthon is a very unusual game. Part metroidvania platformer, part JRPG, and part top down dungeon crawler. on paper it sounds like these three things shouldn't work together but the desolate hope somehow manages to pull it off.

The Desolate Hope tells the story of a robotic coffee maker named Coffee, it's on an unknown planet along with several robots called derelicts. It's job, along with an antivirus program it's made, is to go into the simulations being run by these derelicts to fight a mysterious virus that is attacking them. The story is actually very well done and kept me interest throughout the entire game, and there's a good bit more to it then the somewhat simple setup I've given it implies. But this is a story I feel works best if you play it and find things out on your own.
Screens like this act as transitions between the various locations in the game.
The main gameplay is broken into several parts. The station you start out in, called the Lun Infinius acts as a sort of hub, it's rooms allowing you to acces the sims being run by the derelcts during the day, or go search for supplies outside at night. most of the gameplay takes place in these sims, whick play like a metroidvania platform game, you jump and shoot throug the levels, searching for various powers-ups and stores to help either reach new areas in the levels, or gather supplies to help with boss fights. You'll also find dungeons hidden away in these levels.

The Dungeons are played in a top down perspective, and play a bit like the original Legend of Zelda. you explore the rooms, fighting monsters and finding secret areas your goal being a rift hidden somewhere in each one that acts as a boss of sorts. They control well enough, and make a nice change of pace form the platforming, completing them also gives bits, the game's currency, and unlocks abilities to help in the rpg style boss fights, making them well worth seeking out and completing.
Locations inside the sims can be very unique.
The boss battles are likely the most interesting part of the game, most of your actions in the platforming stages and dungeons are meant to gather resources and upgrades to prepare for them and they're all fun to play. Each of the derelicts fight for you in this part of the game, and each has their own unique abilities and the fights are hard enough to require some strategy to beat them. they also look great, although they can be a bit too busy at times, with stats and meters and special effects constantly flooding the screen when things are going well.

The game also has a day and night cycle, most of the gameplay takes place during the day. At night the sims shut down and you can exit the station to look for supplies. This is unfortunately the weakest part of the game. The view of the outsdie at night is quite pretty, but the gameplay is overly simplistic, consisting of waking to the left picking up items to can bring back to base to level up the derelicts. there's also a time limit, with the station only having enough power to last oh so many days, though you can eventually find items outside to help extend it.
Night time is pretty, but not very fun to play.
Graphically the game is very nice looking, graphics are highly detailed, the various environments you'll be visiting all support detailed terrain and backgrounds, and each each area looks unique from the rest. characters are also highly detailed, especially the derelicts and the bosses you'll be fighting and everything animates smoothly. it's all very impressive given that game game was mostly made by a single person.

The game also has a very good soundtrack. Each area has it's own music that suits it nicely, and the whole thing is fun to listen too. Unfortunately for those who like collecting game soundtracks, the Developer has said the music has been licensed from a third party and he does have the rights needed to offer one.
Boss battles start off simple, but can become very busy once things get going.
Finally, the game has a pretty decent length to it. It took me just a bit over 7 hours to beat it, and it feels like the right length for this game. It was long enough to both have some fun with the game's various mechanics and let the game tell it's story and it didn't overstay it's welcome.

If you like unique games that mix genres in interesting ways, I'd recommend checking out The Desolate Hope. And an interesting title with a good story that lasts just as long as it needs to do what it wants to do and no longer. At $4.99 it's a good deal for what you're getting.

The Desolate Hope was developed by Scott Cawthon. It is available on Steam.

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