It has been a good while since I played a game on my Switch, just due to the fact that so many games that I’ve been looking forward to playing have been on the PC. Fortunately for my Switch, I was able to get rid of the dust lying on it as Beautiful Desolation was ported onto it and as I hadn’t quite got around to playing it on PC, I was able to snap it up on the Switch and give it a go.
I’m going to start with what I found to be the only positive I had with Beautiful Desolation – and that is that the name is quite apt. It is quite a beautiful game. The cut scenes are tremendous, the areas you explore are highly detailed and extremely pleasant to look at, even when you consider all the destruction that has happened in the world. There are plenty of sections of gameplay that have you interacting with various characters and they split you out into a “conversation” type screen so you can see all their facial animations up close and they’re genuinely fantastic. All the voice acting as well can’t be touched, it’s impeccable and extremely well directed.
Sadly, everything else in Beautiful Desolation left me disappointed. Even in the opening hour or two I had to consult a walkthrough multiple times to figure out where on earth I had to go or what I had to do, because the game is horrendous at explaining what you need to do. I kept wandering around aimlessly before giving in and looking online as there was no direction given to the player at all. It seems bizarre that they assume you’d work it out with zero information given to you. Almost within the first hour I was turned off from wanting to play it and then it became a grind to try to get through it all and see where the game was going.
It’s kind of harsh to suggest the story was poor in Beautiful Desolation, but it did leave quite a lot to be desired. The core of it has a great idea, lots of interesting potential there, but it feels somewhat unexplored. There’s a tremendous amount in the game that goes unsaid. Things that really need an explanation don’t ever get one, so you’re left trying to fill in the blanks with very little information to do that with. It harms it overall when you can’t identify with your character because you have no idea who he is, what his motivations are or anything. He’s just some South African guy that seems alright I guess.
This is a Switch port of the PC game, and probably predictably, it didn’t translate very well. It’s not terrible, but as someone that uses the Switch as a handheld console, the resolution is all wrong. Too frequently I was straining to see what items were, where was safe to move and even what buttons I had to press in order to combine items or use on a certain object and it was immensely frustrating. It is marginally better on a bigger screen, but as that’s not always possible to play on, it’s not a great consolation.
I can’t recommend anyone plays Beautiful Desolation, at least not on the Switch. It could be better on the PC where it plays more as a point and click adventure, but there are core issues that I think aren’t solely down to it being a port. It’s a shame because there is a nugget of a good idea buried under all the rubbish that lies on top of it.