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Video Game / Pokemon Desolation

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Pokémon Desolation is an episodically released Pokémon fangame, inspired by both Pokémon Reborn and Pokémon Rejuvenation. Like the former two games, Desolation is not a ROM Hack, but rather an RPG Maker game.

You and your two friends, Ava and Scarlett are on a trip to the Ayrith Region, a large land mass split into several islands. With a freshly made trainer license, you are preparing to challenge the local Pokémon League and hopefully have an unforgettable and fun time with your friends. Unfortunately, a gang war between two mysterious groups erupts and you are separated from your friends and thrown into an island with an unfriendly passenger named Connor who does not hide his contempt for you at all but is willing to work with you. Scrounging up a stray Poké Ball from the wreckage of the boat and on the run from the unfriendly natives who worship a man named Kuiki, you and Connor seek to find your friends and survive. Unfortunately, things get even more complicated as you are entangled with the machinations of both a man calling himself Shiv, who seems to know you somehow, and the idealistic utopian dreams of a woman called Nova. Both hold strange powers that defy reality, and both vie your support. How will you make your way in this island of mystery and deception? Things may not be all they seem...


Similar to its two inspirations, Pokémon Desolation is designed to challenge the player in a more difficult journey in its region, especially at the start, and tells a story that's darker and more violent, with a focus on deception and delusions as its primary themes. While the game borrows from Reborn's field effect system, it has 13 gyms in comparison to Reborn's 18. Also unlike the former two, you get an entirely different selection of starters at the start due to circumstances, with the more traditional starters available later.

It can be downloaded here.


Tropes used in Pokémon Desolation:

  • Action Survivor: YOU! The game begins with you being stranded in one of the Ayrith islands after surviving an exploding boat, with no Pokemon save for what you find in the wreckage. You then proceed to fight several native trainers out to capture you and win.
  • All Just a Dream: The whole game, up to the Dreamscape reveal. Except it isn't.
  • Aloof Big Brother: In a flashback we see that Shiv was this to Kuiki, whose original name was Keegan. He wanted Shiv to acknowledge him but he was always so absorbed in his research that Keegan felt neglected. He changed his name and decided to leave him to go on his own journey to find his place in the world, only for him to become a cult leader later in life. Later in the game, you can find a secret diary entry written by Shiv's sister Aurora, that reveals that Keegan was not Shiv's actual brother, but just someone he took in to help him with his research.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The player character. The character creation at the beginning of the game strictly frames it as what style suits you better rather than your gender, and it's possible to switch to the look of any of the four possible designs at will later in the game.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The most critical one is the Cellia Manor, unlocked about halfway into the story. The place essentially centralizes a lot of useful features to make the trainer's life easier : shopkeepers selling practically any item they could want, a dedicated EV training room, a computer to rematch past major opponents to freely test a new team's performance, and a Grid Teleporter to easily access the rest of the map. Of course, all of this cost an hefty sum of credits, but it's worth it.
    • Unlike Pokémon Reborn, which lets you still level up past the soft Level Cap at the cost of your mons not properly obeying you, this game stops exp gain outright once you reach the level cap until you raise it, with the downside of stopping EV gains too.
    • To help with getting untrained mons up to level, there's always a Pokémon breeder fighting with 3 Audino that can be infinitely rematched near every Pokémon Center for free, with levels appropriate for the point in the story.
    • To alleviate with the game's heavy emphasis on exploration and how crossing some areas can be somewhat tedious with the incessant random encounters, repels are among the most available commodities, with several merchants at critical locations in the wild selling only those.
    • The game makes very sparse use of HMs, cutting down on the need to accommodate team composition with HM Slaves.
  • Anti-Grinding: The level cap prevents you from overlevelling your team to get past a tough boss, and should you get around it in one way or another (the daycare exp gain isn't stopped, for one), your Pokémon will refuse to obey you since you don't have enough badges.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: There are several foes you face during the game: Shiv, a mysterious stranger with strange powers whose machinations have caused you some misery already; Nova, the leader of Team Crescent depending on your choices; Baron, a fanatical member of Team Crescent with his own plans separate from Nova; Amelia, responsible for the situation you are in, who blew up the boat to make a statement of the power of the Black Foxes and to eliminate Team Crescent grunts on the boat in one fell swoop; and Lilith, the leader of the Black Foxes. Subverted when it turns out both Nova and Shiv are pawns to Darkrai, who is the real Big Bad of the game, and has plans for Ayrith, solidifying him as the most dangerous antagonist in the game. While Amelia and Hardy take over the Black Foxes and still seem antagonistic for the moment.
  • Black Market: Cellia City has the Undercity, a place where thugs and other criminals call home. It also sells some really good stuff for outrageous prices, such a Ditto and other powerful items such as Assault Vests and Leftovers.
  • Bold Explorer: The game heavily incentivizes you to be this, as exploration is heavily rewarded not only with gameplay benefits the forms of the Credits, the secondary currency used to buy several important items, but is also key to unlocking better options for crucial plot scenes and avoid some bad outcomes.
  • Bonus Boss: The game likes to throw several of those around, generally in sidequests, by pitting you against a mon that's a good 10~15 levels ahead of whatever the level cap is by the time the quest can first be undertaken. Most notable examples include a level 56 Raikou, a level 55 Ambipom, and a level 100 Dunsparce
  • Broken Bridge: During the quest to retrieve lost books in the Dreamscape, Tristan will tell you he'll start by the one to the west and suggest you go look for the other two. Should you try to follow him to the west instead, your path will be blocked by a Snorlax sleeping in the middle of the path until you gather the other two books.
  • Central Theme: Dreams, Delusions, what constitutes Reality, and searching for the truth behind the truth. The game will make you question several times what is real and what isn't, and you will need to go quite out of your way to obtain the best outcome to critical situations.
  • City Noir: Blackview City, along with some districts of Cellia to a lesser extent. Blackview is a dull, polluted mess of a town where the rent is apparently stupidly high, according to several NPCs. The town is also in complete disarray and pretty painful to navigate as result.
  • Crapsack World: The Ayrith region doesn't seem to be a very happy region, to say the least. Cellia City is supposedly as good as you can get in the region, yet half the city is barely better than a dump and even the better-looking districts have a darker side, like the Undercity.
    • The dreamscape is a pretty bleak place to live in. Odis village is barely getting by and has a big resource crisis impending, according to the people in the town hall, and they're losing contact with nearby cities over time. The game goes as far as to qualify living in the dreamscape as the life of an empty shell, living a predictable and hopeless life.
  • Darker and Edgier: Much like its inspirations, Pokémon Reborn and Pokémon Rejuvenation, Desolation has a darker and more ambitious story than the mainline Pokemon games. To wit, the game opens on a terrorist attack that almost kills the player character.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The reveal that the entire game was a dream constructed by the player character initially deconstructs a lot of aspects of mainline games, directly calling attention to the formulaic nature of the "an evil team wants to exploit the power of a Legendary Pokémon and the Kid Hero has to stop them" plot and the tropes inherent to the game's structure, such as Plot Armor. The game then goes on to turn around and call bullshit on that by revealing the game was Real After All and pointing out the story was never this straightforward, while maintaining several divergences with the usual formula: one of the evil teams actually gets defeated by story's midpoint (the end of the current build), and the Legendary Pokémon central to the plot is the real antagonist rather than a plot device.
  • Didn't Think This Through: One of the trainers you can encounter as you walk through the Celeste Labyrinth fights with three Audinos who all only know Healing Wish. Four times each. After suiciding his own team, he expresses confusion at his loss, as Healing Wish is a great move, after all, right?
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: This is the central point of one of the sidequests chains you can undertake. A little girl wishes to hounour her family's tradition to travel through the island, taking pictures of several landmarks they visit, but she's stuck in a wheelchair and has trouble travelling by herself. You can help her out with this and even find her a Pokémon able to help her travel on her own.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Most gyms don't bother with the traditional pre-leader puzzle section and trainer battles and cut straight to the boss, with the sole exception being Aderyn. Makes sense for most of them, as most of them battle you outside of their gyms or in special circumstances (such as Rosetta). Played straight for Emily and Aaron however, who are fought in their gym and don't bother with it either. Emily does mention the puzzle being put out of commission during the Blackview Siege, but Aaron doesn't say anything on the matter.
  • Early Game Hell: The opening section is easily one of the hardest parts of the game, due to the limited resources you have at your disposal, and some brutal boss fights such as the first encounter with Shiv and the gym battle against Connor. As the game goes on and you gain access to more Pokemon and items, things become more manageable.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: This is the use the Jinx Guild has found the the Grid, a parallel plane that seemingly goes on forever. By opening portals at different points of the Grid, it's possible to link two places far away in the physical plane in a much shorter distance here. This is the main way of getting anywhere quickly as you don't have access to the Fly HM so far.
  • Fight Clubbing: Both Blackview and Cellia have one, both hidden under a seemingly legit bar. Garett even refers to the Cellia fight club as a secret better kept than the existence of the Undercity. People can take bets on who win, and the winner takes a cut of those bets, along with some Credits. The player can eventually access both and battle indefinitely here, allowing them to make some easy money and some Credits.
  • Fighting Your Friend: The battle for Blackview City, that occurs around the midpoint of the game, culminates in fighting your former friend Scarlett, who has joined Team Crescent to help them with their goal. Depending on player choices, it can either end in her suicide, or by her survival and return to the good guys.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: This is what the Teal Panthers get reduced to after losing the Blackview battle. Unlike the Foxes who already had a strong footing in Blackview and Cellia and were backed by Lilith, the Teal panthers had to rely on Team Crescent to even stand up to the Foxes in the first place. The loss of Blackview causes Crescent to ditch them, permanently cripples both their power and reputation, and the attempts of one of the leaders to reform the gang in Cellia gets laughed off by every potential member. It's bad enough said leader takes it as a sign to cut the losses right now and settles for joining the Rangers of Cellia to help with rebuilding the branch of the group instead.
  • Lampshade Hanging: As part of its first big twist, the game pokes at the use of Plot Armor and Theory of Narrative Causality. It becomes weirder in hindsight when it's revealed the game's events were Real After All. Of course it is Darkrai himself who lampshades these tropes and is attempting to gaslight you into thinking Ayrith and everything you've done so far are just a dream to further manipulate you.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: This is revealed to be Nova and Team Crescent's goal; they view the world as it stands as totally unsalvageable and want to use the power of Darkrai and the Onyx Stone to put everyone to sleep in a dream utopia. This takes on an entirely new meaning when you find out about the Dreamscape.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Oh, so very much. While it doesn't become apparent until a good way in, after the fourth badge the game just starts pulling Wham Line after Wham Episode. Most example obviously being discovering that the entire game was a dream and that reality is actually a much grittier place than the real world. And then the game turns around a second time and reveals this is actually wrong, and the supposed reality is the actual dream world, and that most of what happened up until that point was a complicated plan on the part of a Darkrai, who feel like they're straight out of the Mystery Dungeon games.
    • As you climb up the Weeping Hill, you can read the names on various gravestones scattered in the place. Among those, two in particular stands out for not making any sense and for, so far, not being addressed by the story. One of the grave is supposedly Ava's, one of the main character's friend who certainly feels alive enough, and another one for Emily, which is also the name of Blackview City's gym leader, also pretty visibly alive by the time you meet her much later in the game.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Onyx Stone, which is said to be the key to Darkrai's perfection form. A good chunk of the plot for Shiv and Nova is spent fighting over it's possession. Later revelations point at the stone actually being completely useless.
  • Mob War: Blackview City is torn between the Black Foxes and the Teal Panthers by the time the player visits it, with both sides preparing for an all-out assault. Both gangs are ultimately beaten back during the battle by the player and their friends, with the Teal Panthers permanently ridiculed and ultimately disbanded.
  • Mugging the Monster: Should you defeat enough elite trainers in the Cellia fight club, two grunts will jump you as you exit the club to try to win your credits, thinking that double-teaming the top dog of the most renowned fight club of the region will be enough to overwhelm them. Their stupidity actually kickstarts a quest to obtain a Deino egg, so at least it works out just fine for you.
  • The Power of Friendship: This is invoked by Garrett at the end of Episode 5, who states that as long as they have each other, they can achieve anything and the villains don't stand a chance as long as they work together.
  • Relationship Values: A major feature of the game. Your choices can prompt reactions from nearby NPCs and raise or lower your relationship score with them. Most of them are pretty straightforward as generally not being a dick to your friends, others are more complex and related as to how you handle the plot. The game also has a couple of curveballs to throw at you, such as worrying about Ava as she seemingly falls into a pool of lava, which lowers your affinity with her, as she's been pretty insistent that you shouldn't worry about her.
  • Required Party Member: Averted. Despite being very heavy on exploration, the game barely ever uses the traditional HMs of the series to block your progression. To wit, you'll only be given two by the time you get your seventh badges, Rock Smash and Surf. Rock Smash is only used during your first trip in the Vejyr mountain, at a point of the game where it's at least a somewhat reasonable move to run and can safely be forgotten entirely afterwards, and Surf is only given to you after your sixth badge, near the end of the current content. It's also one of the better HMs and a move you could actually consider want to use for battle. This in turn completely obliterates the need for HM slaves, which is a great thing considering the higher difficulty of the game.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Both Scarlett and Hardy end up joining the enemy team, Crescent for Scarlett and the Black Foxes for Hardy. Scarlett joins them out of agreeing to their ideal of making a better world, but can eventually leave them, Hardy seems to see the Black Foxes as a mere convenient alliance and later comes to regret his decision, but states he cannot leave the gang for now.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite being Darker and Edgier, it lands firmly on the idealist side. The good guys can make a difference and save lives, people can change for the better, and vicious cycles can be broken. The closing speech of episode 5 even has Garett embrace the idealism wholeheartedly and affirm the bad guys have nothing on them so long as they stand together.
  • Shout-Out: One puzzle of Weeping Will involves making a lap around a circular chamber. The riddle for the place opens with "Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. "Only the emerald is true, a puzzle as cold as ice. Perhaps you'd done it before? But this time, consider the inverse." This is a direct reference to Pokémon Emerald's puzzle to open the path to Regice, which involved making a lap around the chamber while sticking to the walls, and how the puzzle solution was different in Ruby and Sapphire.
  • Story Branching: While some of the game's apparent branching paths rapidly converge again (or in some cases, give you a Non Standard Game Over), the story and several scenes will change whether or not you prevented Scarlett's suicide and will follow through the consequences of this event.
  • Tournament Arc: The battleview tournament. While it starts as a simple sidequest in Blackview City to unlock the move relearner, it becomes mandatory later on as your reward for making it to the finals is to face Rosetta, the local gym leader, and get her badge. It also serves as a Breather Episode between the previous plot developments and the upcoming Wham Episode.
  • Villain Decay: The Teal Panthers starts out as competent enough to pass off as a threat, having a hold on Blackview City and having kidnapped Emily. They suffer a major loss during the Blackview Siege, with most of their members seemingly arrested or put out of commission, to the point they have to try to start over at Cellia. However, it turns out their loss also cost them any credibility they had and get them laughed off by other street gangs. Ultimately, Clarke, the leader trying to restart things in Cellia, takes it as a sign it's time to cut his losses and disbands the gang while joining the local branch of the Rangers.
  • Wham Line: Right as you're about to go to Cellia City, you make a stop by Tristan's house, only to learn that "Tristan... has been dead for several years now."
    • Later on, as you go to bed for a night of sleep, Garett wakes you up to tell you about the book he was reading right before being interrupted : "The twins are actually very normal people. Indeed, everything is possible for someone... within the dream."
  • Wham Episode: The events following the battle with Rosetta are this. The discovery of the Dreamscape brings the entire game's story into question, and puts the motivation of several antagonists into a completely different light.
  • You Wake Up on a Beach: After the boat's explosion, you end on Keneth Beach, separated from your friends and with nothing to defend yourself. Only way to go from here is up.