The Desolate Hope is a video game made by Scott Cawthon, whom you might know as the creator of the Five Nights at Freddy's games, The Desolate Hope is a Metroidvania/Boss Game/Top-Down View Shooter/...well, it's a lot of things, but its main focus is on the boss battles.
So, what's the story? Well, on the edge of an unknown planet sits the Lun Infinus, a huge unmanned station. In it lies five...er, four Derelicts, huge sentient robots. They were created during Earth's golden age, programmed by the world's brightest scientists to run simulations which would explore the possibilities of off-world expansion, in case the Earth was ever made uninhabitable. Unfortunately, it seemed that humanity lost interest in the project, as the last transmission came in thirty years ago. Did we mention that they were only supposed to run the simulations for only five years? Since they've been running for so long, the simulations have gotten a bit... weird. Adding to their list of problems is a computer virus that's recently been overtaking the station, forcing the Derelicts to use more and more of their CPU power to fight it off.
So, in order to fight off the virus while also trying to keep the Derelicts properly maintained, Coffee (a walking, talking, pot of snark-flavored espresso) has been making Digital-Counterparts, or "D-Co"s, with whatever non-vital programs he can salvage. The virus slowly kills off a grand total of eight D-Cos, but maybe the ninth will get things done...
Oh, that's you, by the way.
You play as D-Co 9, and control Coffee's body (NOT Coffee himself, he's devoting his CPU to much more important things, like flagging where the virus is). During the day, you start in Lun Infinus itself, and download yourself into the Derelict's simulations to fight the virus directly. At first, you only have access to Malenz, but after you defeat the first virus, you get access to all the rest: Mirad, Alphus, and Bio-Beta (Don't bother going into Amos' room, he broke down before he was able to get his simulation up. Doesn't stop his body from draining power though...). During the night, you go out and recover objects to bring to the Derelicts, which in turn make them devote more of their CPU to you during your battles, leveling them up.
The simulations themselves play at a platformer where your main goals are to gather bits (the game's currency), shoot hostile programs before they shoot you, and locate terminals. Accessing these terminals brings you into a mini-dungeon crawler, where completing it grants you new abilities in combat, but only when certain conditions are met (getting hurt, getting a critical hit). You can change when what ability activates, to suit your playstyle.
But all this is really just to prepare you for the boss battles, where digital representations of the bots come to battle a super-powerful aspect of the virus. It plays like a fast-paced JRPG battle, where you select options using your mouse. To prepare for these battles, you buy upgrades at the game's merchants using the bits you gather. As the bosses get harder and harder, you have to keep on grinding and grinding in order to keep up. Oh, and did we mention you only get fifteen days before the station runs out of power for good?
Are you the last hope in this desolate station? Only you can prove that...
Available on Steam for free right now.
WARNING: The Desolate Hope features bright, flashing lights, intense static, and other eye-straining things in its boss fights. If you have a record of seizures due to this, please take caution before playing this.—
The Desolate Tropes:
- An Adventurer Is You: Do note, however, that many Derelicts have a combination of defensive and offensive moves at their disposal, this merely blankets them in the one feed they specialized most in.
- The Medic: Mirad. Instead of just straight healing, she can also store up energy charges, store up a button that makes your team invincible, or store away a revive to get your team back up if Malenz can't get them back up. Does not have a lot of attacks, though.
- The Buffer: Malenz. He has access to Spikeplate (double damage), Armorplate (double defense), and Megacharge (gives every other Derelict a COMPLETELY FULL charge meter). Like Mirad, he's also the only one who can revive the others, though his requires a lower charge to use.
- The Debuffer: Bio-Beta. His attacks can slow down the boss, burn it for damage over time, break down its strength and defense, or render it helpless by turning it into a toy for a time.
- The Jack of All Trades/The Summoner: Alphus. His powers mostly consist of bringing up a program that last for a short period of time, which can be defensive or offensive. For example, he can bring up a wall to protect the team for damage, or bring up a program that will periodically shock and slow the enemy.
- The Sixth Ranger: Amos. He requires some exploring to get, and only shows up at random even when you get him, but easily makes up for it by his programs being THE most powerful ones in the game. He can completely heal/revive the party, defend them against all debuffs, stop the boss's charge meter from getting full, set up an timed ice bomb that increases it damage as damage is dealt to the enemy, or simply unleash a very damaging ice attack.
- Artificial Human: Bio-Beta wants to recreate a better humanity (he has no idea if they're all dead or not, but by the time we get to meet him he really doesn't care if they are). Unfortunately, he only has two body samples to work with, so he's having...a little trouble with that. Now, where did that dang Sample 217 go off to...
- Bee Afraid: The Alphon Domes's fall dome has these as an exclusive enemy.
- Benevolent A.I.: Despite the almost certainty that humanity doesn't care about them anymore, most of the Derelicts are still trying to do their jobs, abet in different ways. But they're still polite to you and say nothing but praises for Coffee, so no crapshooting here.
- Cap: 2,147,483,647 bits, naturally. However, the counter stops working at 999,999,999 bits.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Malenz fits this trope to a T. Let's see, the first thing you see when you enter his room is that it's cast in red light with plenty of dark spots still in the room. Mechanical eyes cover the wall, and Malenz is pretty scary looking himself, what with the spider-like legs. Things aren't any better inside his simulation: The Malwastes are what the planet's surface might be like if it was industrialized: dust and garbage is constantly blowing in the harsh winds, and there's a really scary looking construct in the background. Then, you get to the dome on the edge of the map...and find a cute toy village populated by wooden people who sing praise on how Malenz shelters them from the harsh outside world.
- If anything, Malenz can even be thought as a sort of deconstruction of why dark is no longer evil (or, in his case, realist): He was supposed to be the realist of the group, starting out with simulated miners mining simulated ore. But years of no contact with Earth and the virus ravaging at his systems made him realize that all life is meaningless, because to him, all life wants you to die. So he retreated into a little fantasy world, like a little kid playing with toys, and doesn't really care if the virus destroys him or not. Poor guy.
- Death Seeker: Mirad is one, though replace 'death' with 'sleep mode', though it's the same to her. She explains that she can't activate her sleep mode because the people that made the Derelicts made sure that they couldn't activate it until they fulfill their mission, even making loopholes in their programming to make sure. Mirad would wish nothing more than to be able to rest once and for all. She gets her wish at the end of the game.
- Deep Sleep: All the Derelicts are in 'sleep mode' at the end of the game.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Of course. You get to see the look on the antivirus's face of defeat while it gives you bits.
- Do Androids Dream?: Mirad wonders about this, but also manages to invert it too. She wonders if humans really has souls, but really so she can build a simulated afterlife for them. She tried making her own humans with emotions and thought, but they can barely last five seconds before going back into the code again.
- Expy: Sandbox looks like Boulder.
- Hand Wave: Why are there toys, paintings, snow globes, and clocks all over the ground right outside Lun Infinus? Because the last probes that humanity sent to the station were full of them. Why were they full of objects normally useless to simulation bots? Uhhhhh....
- Bio-Beta explains that the final capsules sent to the base contained these samples. Coincidently Bio-Beta is one of the Derelicts that believes humanity has become extinct...
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Hey, do you want to know where Sample 217 is? It's the metal case in the background of Atmos' room.
- An Ice Person: Amos, since his room is frozen over. Once you unlock him, he has several ice-based attacks.
- Interface Screw: Some bosses have the "Hackworm" attack, which causes static to fill the screen completely, only clearing for a few split-seconds at a time. This is bad because the battles are fast paced ATB battles, so waiting for the screen to clear up so you can see what command you're giving gives the enemy free turns.
- Powers as Programs: Used literally, since you fight in cyberspace. Every buff, attack, and status inflection is a program; for example, the power that a boss uses to fill your screen with static is called 'Hackworm', and one that stuns your characters is called 'Sleep Mode'.
- Posthumous Character: Amos. You can retrieve a chip off of him to help you in battles, however.
- Scenery Porn: The environments in the game are stunning, if incredibly worn down due to age.
- Superboss: Dummy's Revenge. It has tons of health, kills your derelicts in one hitnote , and you can't hack its speed stat.
- Technology Porn: