Written by Jack Allin — September 7, 2014 at 12:25
Adventure gamers are used to making a lot of dubious moral choices, but perhaps never more so than in Elliot Collis's upcoming desolate, a tale about the path to personal redemption which is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.
In desolate, shadowy figures invade your village and you "sacrifice your friends and family to them in order to escape." Only afterwards do you realize the gravity of your selfish actions, and you now must "make amends for your mistakes." This is far easier said than done, however, as "sooner or later you will have to face your inner shadows and your inner self to change for the better." The first step in getting back to the village to right your grievous wrongs is to befriend the little cave creatures living "under the barren lifeless desert known as The Desolate."
Unlike most adventures, the wordless desolate will rely on the three core mechanics of sound, gesture, and touch, each having its own affect on those around you – some of them intended, some not. For example, "where the call of your voice might reassure a family member in trouble and make them try to get to you, the call of your voice might scare the little cave creature and make him run away." Solving many of the game's puzzles requires "finding the correct sequence of events for the desired outcome to happen." There will also be some light platforming and action elements that have you "trying to capture or corner someone", but Collis says that these sequences are slower-paced than a standard platformer. They will also serve to shift the game's perspective from horizontal to vertical, the largely side-scrolling gameplay giving way to climbing when "the player's world seems to start breaking down."
Desolate will be told in seven acts, each representing a new stage on this path to self-discovery and atonement, as reflected in their titles: Desolation, The Desolate, Deception, Corruption, Consumption, Depression, and Realisation. The game is inspired by the developer's own experiences, including its distinctive setting, which blends the "vast landscapes of New Zealand and the uniquely confined architecture of Tokyo" with the caves from both Nippara and Arizona. All of this is stylishly hand-painted, as seen in the early screenshots and trailer.
In order to complete this keyboard- (or gamepad-)controlled adventure by July 2015, Collis has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise a modest $12,500 by September 30th. A minimum $12 NZD (about $10 USD) will earn backers a DRM-free copy of the game for PC, Mac, or Linux upon completion, while those who pledge $50 or more can play each act as it's finished, beginning this December.
To learn more about desolate and to contribute to its fundraising campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.