Beacon Pines: Charming & Cozy Yet Somehow Thrilling

  • Chris
  • 0 Comment
  • October 5, 2022

When it comes to video games, the narrative is a massive plus for me. I can not help myself being drawn into the world and the stories it holds. Beacon Pines immediately had that factor going for me, offering a full fleshed tale that had a choices-matter system. As you explore the quiet, little town of Beacon Pines, you will come across “charms”. These are the backbone of the whole gameplay dynamic: they are words that can be used at a pivotal moment in the story, allowing you to change its course and branch out into a whole new narrative.

Beacon Pines though is wonderful because not only can you “choose” how the story unfolds, but also you can go back to a pivotal moment and try a new word, that will unlock a whole new branch of the story. This will help you uncover the mysteries of this town. Each branch is so well written and offers twists at every corner, with characters that you just can not help but grow an attachment to.

"Cute, Creepy and Well Written "

The main protagonist, which you control, is a young deer named Luka. Luka is definitely down on his luck, and his story is full of tragedy. His Dad passed away in a disaster that struck the town years prior, his Mum mysteriously just up and left one day, and he lives in a town where things have been strange for a while with his grandmother, who he has not seen for many years before his mother left. To say things are not looking good for poor Luka is an understatement and, right off the bat, you find yourself attached to him and his story, hoping for the best outcome.

You will spend your time adventuring around the small, close-knit town of Beacon Pines with your best friend Rolo, a young fox the same age as Luka. Together they seek adventure and really thrive on mystery and chaos. While the town may be small, it sure packs a whole lot of drama, not just mystery. The farming town used to be booming when the local fertilizer company was there. After a tragedy known only as “Foul Harvest”, the company went bankrupt and was forced to close, taking with it half the town who used to be employed there. Ever since that day a new company called Perennial Harvest came in and took over. Most residents though don’t like it, or its grinning boss William Kerr. Some people like Luka and Rolo find them very strange, and maybe they should.

So much more comes into the story, that has you spotting similarities with movies or shows like Stranger Things or The Goonies. You will have a new resident joining your “gang”, there are the town bullies that show up and cause you nothing but problems. Around every corner there is a new mystery to uncover, it even features another young resident -a wannabe reporter- that is fixated on what is going on around town.

I think that is a fair comparison to make, and in my eyes Beacon Pines actually goes one step further than some of these shows by offering you story arcs that actually hold up: not only do they seem believable (in the world of the game), but keep you entwined in the story. More often than not, you will find yourself throwing your predictions out of the window, trust me. Usually in mysteries most people can guess what is coming, well not in this case. I would never have guessed half the outcome of these story arcs and that for sure it is one of the strong points.

The delivery of the story is just perfect, set in a third-person tone with a wonderful narrator constantly present, who sets up the scene for you. Providing just snippets of the story at a time makes it feel more liveable and not a heap of text thrown at you. It keeps the pace of the game feel like how you would read a story to a child, in these small intriguing bursts.

Beacon Pines is kind of a kid’s book, but with horror/thriller thrown in there. Now, I am not talking about gruesome blood up the wall or jump scares. I’m talking about some light-hearted horror that just peers around certain scenes to give it that sense of mystery and darkness. Along with the anthropomorphic animal residents, it creates this weird style of a cozy-horror that seemingly works. Actually it works so well that, even though I usually do not play very many visual novels (while it may not be a straight-up visual novel, It is close enough), I couldn’t help myself wanting to turn the next page in the book to see what will happen next.

“ Tragedy Awaits Down The Weird Rabbit Hole "

With the “charms” and the fact you can switch up your paths, you will find yourself down some weird rabbit hole, as the branches get darker and more twisted each time. There are so many that will end in tragedy, but “don’t worry this is not the end, it can’t be” as the narrator will often remind you. Now you can go back and try a different charm and hope it leads to a better place.

I use the word branch for the story arcs as this is also how the game depicts it to you. The story path is shaped like a tree and just like any tree, there are branches growing out. The charms that you use at pivotal points of the story will decide what branch of the story you follow to unveil Beacon Pines’s many mysteries. The closer these branches are, the more similarities you’ll find in the narration and in the information you will uncover…but if you drastically turn to a far branch, you’ll get a whole different side of the story by your hands. The whole awesomeness of this system is its 3rd person narrative, meaning that you alone know all the information you gain through each of the branches, not your protagonist Luka. This means you can see impending doom before the character does, so your choice in the charm selection can give him a nudge in the right direction.

Although Beacon Pines has some sort of choices-matter, it’s really not the case. You will need to collect certain charms to progress into the story and at each pivotal turning point you can only select certain charms, meaning there are only a few ways to really go. That does not take away from the fact it still works great and offers more story than some choice-matter games, even if it’s a limited choice. The only downfall this game has is the lack of interaction other than speaking to people and interacting with a few objects. I am not saying add whole new systems, but there is room for a few puzzles in the game, which would add more for the player to do while keeping the storybook theme.

Beacon Pines is an awesome game full of thrills and mystery, with points in the game where you just want to know more. Even if you are not a fan of heavy-story games with very few actions or things to do, this is one you still will want to try. The characters are so loveable and you only wish the best for them, the beautiful artwork and the music all add to such an amazing time. I am sad that the story is over, and really hope for another tale to be developed following the same thrilling concept.

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