Game Review : Beacon Pines

Game Review : Beacon Pines

A spooky game featuring cute little animals? Sign me up. I knew I had to play Beacon Pines for those adorable character designs and the sinister mystery, but I was even more intrigued by the fact that this game about a town with more to it than meets the eye features a choose-your-own-adventure type of story. 

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loved choose-your-own-adventure stories when I was a kid. There was nothing quite like the excitement of knowing that my choices impacted the direction of the story and even better, that when it was all said and done, that I got to relive the whole story all over again with different choices and outcomes. Beacon Pines captures that same exact magic with its Chronicle Book. Inside this Chronicle Book, which looks like an actual tree, players can see the story literally branching in different directions as they make choices. Players are enabled to make choices based on charms (words) found in the environment and through completing different branches of the story. In turn, inserting these different charms in the story results in different outcomes. Sometimes, just playing through a different branch results in the unlocking of a new charm, which allows for a new branch to be played.

 

 

It can be a little hard to keep all of these branches and their events straight, but I found I didn’t mind any of this temporary confusion because I was so invested in the story and the characters. It doesn’t hurt that Beacon Pines has an absolutely fantastic narrator, Kirsten Mize. She not only narrates the story, but effortlessly captures the emotions of the moment, and even makes chatting to the player seem like an actual normal conversation between friends. Through her, the already capturing story packs even more of a punch.

 

Just look at these incredible character designs.

 

From the very beginning of Beacon Pines there is a pervasive feeling of disquietude in the peaceful little farming town. It’s clear, even through the eyes of our young protagonist, Luka, that not everything is as it seems. It hasn’t been long since Luka’s father mysteriously died and now, his mother has disappeared without a trace. As Luka walks about the town, which is preparing for a festival, there are allusions to something called a “Foul Harvest,” which clearly had a lasting effect on Beacon Pines. Before too long, Luka’s best friend Rolo, shares that he has seen lights on in the derelict, closed warehouse outside of town and the two (or just Luka depending on the story branch), go to investigate. No matter what charms the player chooses, Luka is confronted with a person wearing a hazmat suit and many more questions about what exactly is going on in his deceptively peaceful town.

 

 

As Luka uncovers more and more of the secrets lurking beneath the surface of his seemingly quiet town, he finds his friendships and familial bonds tested. Beacon Pines manages to not only be a cozy horror/mystery, but also a coming of age story dealing with bullying, the loss of parents, forgiveness, the struggle of new and old friends, and so much more. I often found myself laughing aloud or emotional while playing the game, almost moved to tears at points. And I was truly concerned for the well-being of Luka, his friends Rolo and Beck, and the entire town. 

 

Even better is throughout it all, Beacon Pines manages to have a great sense of humor, which in turns, makes its denizens seem even more real. Mr. Nuncreed is a little too enthusiastic about  Luka’s gran and seems to be always out of her homemade jam. Geoff, the town’s old junk-loving man, seems a little too anti-establishment. Tish, Iggy’s partner in crime, seems incapable of saying anything other than “yup.” There’s a lady by the town fountain who always has her nose stuck in a book and seems to provide all too accurate commentary on what’s happening in the story at present.

 

 

All of these characters, no matter how little screen time they have, feel very much like real neighbors. I was so invested in what was going on in their town that I beat the game the very same day I downloaded it from Game Pass. The game itself is only about five to seven hours long depending on how much of a completionist the player is, but I just had to know everything about what was happening in the town of Beacon Pines and what it meant for Luka and the gang, so I definitely spent about seven hours or more exploring everything and going back to experience all of the different story branches and endings.

 

With Luka not knowing who to trust as he uncovers more and more of the town wide mystery, it’s truly impossible to quit playing Beacon Pines before reaching the ending. I was on my edge of the seat the whole time, never really having any remote idea of what was going on. I was completely unable to make any predictions, which only furthered my delight in the experience and my determination to reach the end of the game. Honestly, the story, which involved a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, with creepy scientist-like figures and some sort of town wide conspiracy, gave me serious Stranger Things vibes. Unlike Stranger Things’s Hawkins though, Beacon Pines is a beautiful and quaint little town. The game has truly beautiful settings, artwork, and a lovely soundtrack too. 

 

Even after 100% completion of the game, I still have more questions about Beacon Pines and the world it takes place in. There is a post credits scene and I’m truly crossing my fingers that this is a hint for a sequel. I would jump at the chance to play another game taking place in the same world as Beacon Pines, with the same gameplay and art styles too. Regardless of if there is a sequel or spin off one day, if you’re looking for a cozy and spooky game for Halloween, Beacon Pines is it. 

 

four-half-stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Game Review : Beacon Pines - Blogging with Dragons

Posted October 7, 2022 in Games

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