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17

Rise of the Coffee Bots: The Desolate Hope

This game has more awesome robots in it than every film

I’ve just been reminded of the time-sundered joy of looking through the chunky boxes in my local Electronics Boutique. Back then so many games were a mystery. With no internet connection a boy only had the fading print of a magazine to guide his hand and his limited supply of Sterling. The stranger the better was the motto and I bought some absolute stinkers purely because I couldn’t resist a cyberpunk game wot had vampires in it or a well designed piece of cover art. It’s Scott Cawthon’s The Desolate Hope that reminded me of those days because it looks like a glorious artifact from the nineties, hand-crafted, bizarre and out of step with the very concept of ‘drum’. It’s free and I think I love it a little bit.

First up, thanks to indiegames.com for bringing this one to my attention. I hadn’t played Scott’s earlier game, The Desolate Room, from which The Desolate Hope seems to take more cues than just its name. Both have a visual style that feels like it went out of fashion years ago while also feeling unique, new and as fresh as a sassy cat.

A tiny robot crafted from a coffee pot is the hero, which is instantly gratifying. Coffee is, of course, the protagonist of my life, always there to perk me up, rescue me from the dream of death that is sleep, and to offer advice when times are tough. Admittedly, it’s an expensive habit if you’re drinking enough to make it talk back, but the point remains that coffee is great and so are coffee pot robots.

And what tasks must our hero perform? He exists to spread joy in a terrible world, that’s what I reckon, and he does it by platforming, by adventuring in a top-down style and by engaging in turn-based battles reminiscent of various JRPGs. That’s all fine, but it’s the look that is the main appeal, the sense that this could be an archaeological find, buried in a dusty stock room beneath a hundred oddities and their weighty manuals, a relic from the time when a brick and mortar store had a different game in every location rather than row upon row of Sims, regimented and grim despite their day-glo expressions.

The Desolate Hope reminds me of finding BloodNet between copies of Gabriel Knight and Syndicate and leaving the shop with X-Wing and the firm belief that anything was possible.

There’s a trailer here but I concur with Jon over at indiegames – it’s preferable to download the game and play it before watching. Be surprised!

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