Beautiful Desolation is an isometric Sci-Fi Adventure Game from 2020, made by THE BROTHERHOOD, a South-African indie development team of two brothers. Like their previous game, Stasis (with which this game does not share a universe, unlike the free game Cayne), the game was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The game opens in 1986 of an Alternate History where a mysterious alien structure known as the Penrose appeared in the sky above South Africa ten years previously, disrupting civilization and significantly altering the course of technological development — and, consequently, political developments — since then. The protagonist, Mark Leslie, cajoles his brother, Don, into flying a helicopter to the restricted Penrose that continues hovering above in order to research the structure's secrets only to find himself and his brother, along with a Robot Dog, blasted centuries into the future. Now stuck in a post-apocalyptic world, Mark must figure out what has happened and try to find a way to return to his own time.
The game provides examples of:
- Brain Uploading: Done to the point where in some cases the delineation between whether someone really is the "original", even if they are just reduced to cybernetics connected to a skull, or a copy becomes unclear at times. At other times it is a bit more clear-cut, with a "black box" for a crashed craft containing a copy of the long-dead pilot's mind.
- Convection Schmonvection: Downplayed. One area is surrounded by lava flows and traveling to it requires equipping the Buffalo with heat shielding. Once there, however, your character and allies can run around the zone freely with just one comment from Don saying that he thinks that his shoes are melting. In fact, one task requires collecting a sample of lava. Sure, you have a container made from Applied Phlebotinum that contains the heat but you still have to get physically close to the lava flow to use it.
- Hive Mind: The NEST. Possibly also the Moss.
- My Skull Runneth Over: An odd example with the Moss; originally designed as an organic data storage system, once they gained their own sentience (and not from the data that they were storing, but just from their own evolution) they found the sensation of being nearly filled to capacity agonizing and potentially fatal.
- Plant Person: The Moss are a race of these.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The Fley are worms that attach to and take over a human host. One of them implies that the relationship is symbiotic but while the host is still 'alive' inside the worm is clearly the one in complete control.
- Robot Dog: POOCH. Originally a security guard, she teams up with Mark after being flung in the future due to having no other options after ending up in a completely unfamiliar place.
- Take a Third Option: Obtaining key MacGuffin items typically requires choosing between helping one of two factions, with the unchosen faction getting screwed over. At least one sidequest allows for a different choice that screws over both factions.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Mark's team-up with POOCH is this initially, due to Mark's act of trespassing getting POOCH stuck in the situation in the first place. Depending on dialogue choices it can stay this way or they can become Fire-Forged Friends.
- Tomato in the Mirror: One character ends up learning that they are not quite who they thought they were: specifically, your character, Mark Leslie, and your companions Don and POOCH, are copies of the original created in the "flash" that you thought sent you into the future. Said flash was actually just a scan from which those copies were made; the originals continued on with their lives without knowing that anything had happened.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Most dialogue options have a choice for Mark to act like a complete Jerkass.
- Where Are They Now: The ending reveals what happened to Mark, Don and POOCH. Specifically, the originals of Mark, Don and POOCH rather than the copies replicated in the future. Player choices throughout the game will affect how this plays out, with the implication being that the player's actions in the game reflected the original Mark's mindset which would have informed how the real Mark would have continued his life.
- World Half Full: Despite the war-torn world and the collapse of the previous civilization, life and even civilization are still continuing on.