Picking up where we left off. The character designs are fine if a little bland. The only ones that stand out to me the most are Adam’s (And we’ll talk about him later), and Stella’s. If only because both have more creative hairstyles and outfits. Chloe and James, while sharing unique outfits, are kinda basic, and Elliot and Alex literally wear the same thing. So. Take that as you will.
Ah yes! The…characterisation. I’m suddenly starting to realise my odd love for this game is definitely unfounded. Anyway, to speed through, Alex acts like a generic nice guy, James acts like your stereotypical softie (Except it is excusable since it’s implied Chloe traumatised him). Adam generally seems trustworthy, yet it’s implied he’s got a sadistic side, though that’s never expanded upon.
Elliot (Despite being my favourite character) is mainly characterised by being a crazy guy in denial. At least he actually does something if you piss him off. Stella…is someone I can only describe as being a Chloe lover and possible masochist. That’s not even a joke. That’s what I picked up from her two minutes of screen time.
Chloe, at least, has some implication of why she’s so weird. It was implied in her diary that she never got much attention from her father. Meaning? Chloe is an attention seeker and probably a sadist on top of that, considering she torments her clearly traumatised brother (James) into eating another human being alive.
Music and Gameplay (Plus The “Papa Adam” Issue.)
Music-wise, it’s decent. I’m unsure if Choko was using royalty-free music tracks or if it’s original either way, it’s decent, nothing mind-blowing but nothing bad either.
Gameplay is pretty simple, talk to character, get quest, do the thing they asked of you, stare at decently drawn CGs (or crappy spooky spaghetti mouth if something spoopy is happening.) and repeat. The only parts that are even slightly different are Elliot’s bit and the last bit with Chloe, mainly because you can die and get a bad end from both of them.
Now onto the last bit. There’s a line in the game said by James to “Don’t trust [Adam] too much.” And my biggest question. Why? Aside from stretching his mouth like he was a Haunter, Adam gives us zero reasons not to trust him. And here’s where my biggest criticism comes from. Adam essentially holds our hand and tells us everything.
Throughout the entire game, Adam basically solved the whole thing by doing Papa Adam stuff and holding our hand. Sure, we can mess up and get killed by Elliot, but that’s a direct fault of the player, and even then, we have to speak to Adam in order to progress. And even at the final confrontation, if it wasn’t for Adam conveniently handing over a knife to us, we would be dead.
Do you see my point here? Adam feels like the story’s McGuffin, and I hate that he does. It feels trivial to do anything because Papa Adam is right there. Just ask him. And I honestly wish that Alex had more critical thinking skills because then at least James’s line would make sense.
Sorry. Tidbit over.
Conclusion (And my justification for why I like this game.)
So, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started this article. Let me finish by saying a few words of praise, one, the game was made for a GameJam and I understand that it was never going to be perfect. Two, Choko has made games after Desolate Village and they look great, so do not take this as the bottom line for her work. And three, even after all this, I still can’t bring myself to dislike the game.
Desolate Village isn’t perfect. I think we can all respect that, yet, even after I tore through the game and pointed out the most blaring obvious issues, I find that I still like it. I think it’s mainly due to the absolute potential this game has to be fantastic, the concept isn’t bad at all, in fact, it’d be a rather interesting mechanic that I would love Choko to use in any future projects.
Having to balance out taking drugs in order to keep your captors’ happy while also trying not to be completely lulled into a false sense of security is a really interesting concept, and trying to decipher who you can or can’t trust would be amazing.
But anyway, thank you for reading the second half of this article. Next up on Niche RPG time? Dreaming Mary.