Anyone that has been around on my blog for a while, may have noticed how excited I’ve been for the release of Beacon Pines. I mean, I wrote about the demo, twice I believe, I did an interview, I talked about it frequently in other posts and referenced it multiple times, and I even drew fanart for it!
So, September came around at last and I purchased it, played through it in one sitting (here’s the VOD if you wanna see that for yourself), and then there I was… absolutely in awe about this game… and I wasn’t exactly sure how to write a review on this without spoiling anything…
After all, Beacon Pines is a story-driven adventure with some degree of Choice and I absolutely loved every single minute of it. It left me at the edge of my seat wondering what’s gonna happen next or whether we can even save the cast of characters… and by the end of it, I was incredibly happy.
Thus, I don’t want people to read this post here and end up getting spoiled by me, a fellow Indie enjoyed, and thus, I took an incredibly long time to get this post ready… editing it a whole lot to ensure that there really aren’t any spoilers at all. I think I did the best I could! Enjoy!
Developer: Hiding Spot Publisher: Fellow Traveller Genre: Indie, Story-Driven Adventure, CYOA, Mystery Release Date: September 22nd, 2022 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC, Switch, XB1, xCloud Copy was purchased..
The story is centred around a down-on-its-luck farming town, named Beacon Pines, where farmers are struggling after the so-called “Foul Harvest” and where hope re-emerges as there are some new prospects for the town in sight. But strange things appear to happen in Beacon Pines and it’s upon you to get to the ground of things!
Luka, a twelve-year-old young lad, is the main character that you accompany on this adventure. His father died six years ago under mysterious circumstances, his Mum recently went missing, and his Gran appears to leave him alone rather frequently… There’s no main character without at least one tragedy – and yet, Luka has it pretty darn rough… Luckily, though, he’s got a friend in Rolo, a chipper bundle of energy, and the new kid in town, Beck, who just moved and who has struggles of their own.
Together, you go around the titular town of Beacon Pines and explore conversations, branching story paths, and more as you find out what’s happening in town… There is something odd going on. An old abandoned fertilizer warehouse is releasing an eery glow at night, the new company called Perennial Harvest appears to have a big influence on people, and even our Gran seems to hide a few things.
A common motive that you find in the story is “The Fould Harvest”, an event that caused the local fertiliser company that employed most of the town to go bankrupt. After that, things just haven’t really been the same… Beacon Pines is a story about Change. It’s about a lot of things, actually.
As you go around, you collect charms that can then be inserted into choices. This very much reminded me of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books that gave you a bunch of options and then let you do your things… and there’d be optimal and bad endings as well as neutral ones that are just sort of weird… and yet, Beacon Pines’ story paths are connected and equally important. There are alternate endings, there are dead ends that grant you access to charms that are important in others… and even though there is one true ending of sorts, there is a lot of room for interpretation and theory-crafting!
What sort of sells it to me though is the overall vibe of the game. I was reminded of The Goonies a lot, actually, as the band of children goes around town, scuffling with bullies, avoiding adults, and always being up to seemingly no good… It’s kids doing kids’ things but there is more to it.
And while the game is overall incredibly adorable with some wholesome messages to spread and incredibly amazing art done by the lead artist Ilse Harting… the game is also incredibly creepy and mysterious with its Sci-Fi twists and an eeriness that probably is inspired by Stranger Things… I haven’t watched the show and would love to say that Beacon Pines reminds me of E.T. and “Dark” in terms of the vibe but I guess Stranger Things probably is a better example here… Gotta watch that someday! – I digress!
Beacon Pines is a story-driven game but even if there is this CYOA charm (heh) attached to it, it’s far less choice-driven than I originally expected. Going one way and noticing that it’s a dead end because you’re missing a charm sort of makes it clear that there is some sort of order that is important. Beacon Pines is non-linear and its being less choice-driven is – by no means – a bad thing. I just observed it and figured it’d be worth mentioning.
When I originally looked up Beacon Pines, it appeared to have 4-7 hours of content on average, according to numerous sites… As you may be able to tell from my playthrough, though, it’s longer than that. It took me roughly ten hours to get through it on-stream… that is with me chatting to viewers, taking breaks, talking about things, and backtracking here and there… In terms of length, I wasn’t disappointed. At all. I was surprised actually…
Frankly, I love this game and I believe that I managed to explain why exactly that is and why I personally would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a story-driven adventure game inspired by Stranger Things. It’s great! You won’t regret it!