Howard Philips Lovecraft’s unnerving and vexing body of work has been a wellspring of inspiration for videogames, with everything from Quake to Bloodborne cribbing at least a little from the granddaddy of cosmic horror.
Desolatium by Superlumen is looking like another worthwhile entry in the Lovecraftian videogame corpus. A first-person point-and-click adventure with pre-rendered environments highly reminiscent of Myst, it’s being made with VR in mind, but is also playable in the standard keyboard-mouse-and-monitor configuration preferred by god-fearing gamers everywhere.
I tried both the standalone “Prologue” released last June and a demo of the full game Superlumen put out at the end of December and I was really impressed. The pre-rendered backgrounds are based on photography of real locations, and they’re reminiscent of the same sort of scenes from ’90s adventure games and RPGs, but in ultra-high modern resolution. It’s as if that style of presentation never went out of vogue, but kept evolving, similar to the treatments Pillars of Eternity or Octopath Traveler gave to their respective genres.
Both playable portions of Desolatium are atmospheric and unnerving, and the bizarro-world Mediterranean village of the Prologue contrasts nicely with the sterile office building interiors of the more recent demo.
True to its adventure game roots, the path forward can be a little esoteric at times, and the stiff voice-overs and occasional text typos reflect some issues with the translation from the developers’ native Spanish. For me, personally, that just lends the game a further retro, pulpy charm, but your mileage may vary.
I’m looking forward to Desolatium’s full release, which is tentatively set for sometime this spring.