Title: Beacon Pines
Developer: Hiding Spot
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Release Date: September 22nd, 2022
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
The successful Kickstarter game Beacon Pines is a cozy, yet creepy visual novel where you follow along with the narrator of an unfinished book, as you control the main character Luka on a quest to discover the truth.
You follow a young deer named Luka Van Horn and his friends as they unravel a mystery that they find themselves becoming wrapped up in. With the help of the narrator, you will use your words called charms to alter the storyline and take different paths to unfold the mystery at hand.
Beacon Pines starts off with Luka, a young 12-year-old deer, who has arranged flowers at his father’s gravestone at the base of a beautiful tree. His father has been gone for 6 years now and as of recently Luka’s mother has been missing for several months, which his best friend Rolo, a tiger, reminds him of. After this sad introduction the story starts to take its course down a more daunting path.
Luca Lives with his Gram now that he has no other direct family. She keeps a warm house and tends to her elderberry bushes to make jam for her customers. Luka interacts with her in the backyard where you use the charms you collect for the first time. The narrator says that using the words greatly impact the journey you will take. This first interaction will not result in an impactful choice but every choice after will.
Throughout this story you uncover new friends and new enemies using your words that you come across. A lot of the issues in the story surround a company called Perennial Harvest and it is up to you to peel back the façade that seems to be everywhere lingering around every corner. Can you find out what sinister story is plaguing the good citizens of Beacon Pines? Choose your words and find the ending you and the people deserve.
The World of Beacon Pines: The tone of the game starts out sad immediately when you hear of Luka’s parents, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. His friend Rolo has a knack for getting you out of that funk quickly with his funny and spunky manner. As you explore you find that there is much to see and do with the surroundings in the game giving you a sense of immersive depth to a small area. Explore places such as your house, your treehouse, the town, and woods. The colors and sounds are lovely, and the variety of townsfolk are well balanced. You will come across others who will aid you over various story arcs. The player will collect charms or words and at certain points this will unlock a new path, when your path ends, or it is not what you expected you can go to the narrator’s chronicle book and select a critical point in the story on a tree and if you have collected a new word, you can insert it and set off on that path. Only you decide where that can lead.
The story on the surface of this game boils down to how kids and teens interact and how they go through various situations. Some I came across were loss, loneliness, bullying, jealousy, anger, and abandonment. One other friend Luka meets, is Beck, who is a cat that is new in town, and because of a misunderstanding some of these topics come into play. This gave me similar vibes to another game called Night in the Woods where issues like this arise as well as unraveling a dark mystery about the town.
In this game you must find charms, these charms dictate the route of your, choose your own adventure at hand. The top-down view gives you a stellar view of the scenes and the game provides magnifying symbols to alert the player of an interaction that can occur. For example, there is a point in the story with targets to unlock the security system to a tree house and you must find and kick cans to hit them to get inside. You can also interact with certain objects such as hit punching bags, go fishing, and hand drum a watermelon. Though, no combat or lengthy puzzles Beacon Pines has much to offer.
The more you explore the farther you and friends will go down the rabbit hole to uncover the towns burdens. Being a visual novel, it has much dialogue to read, but rarely feels like rambling. The characters and how they interact really make the gameplay interactive and I’m happy of the choices the developers made with the flow of the game.
Beacon Pines: Is a fantastic way to tell a multi-faceted story and get both heart breaking and satisfying results. The art and character control are crisp and feel well polished. The music choices for the scenes that were currently playing always seemed to hit the mark with its tone. The flow in which you can discover a new path to the story and then quickly U-turn back to a critical point and set off in a new direction was very easy and fun to pursue. I never felt overwhelmed at any point in the game, and it was extremely satisfying to know or contemplate what was going to happen in one story branch based on a different one already experienced. Some slight annoyances came in the form of Animal Crossing type sounds coming from the inhabitants, which came from a select few but could take you out of the story a bit. The complaints few and the compliments are plenty. I can’t wait to see what games emerge next from Hiding Spot. Please check out this wonderful story and become part of Beacon Pines.
Shane Kelley is a Staff writer for Boss Rush Network, as well as a writer for Another Zelda Podcast. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can find him on Twitter to talk video games, Marvel, and axe throwing.
Sources: Taken by Author
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