Beacon Pines is a narrative-driven adventure game developed by Hiding Spot and published by Fellow Traveller. The game is coming to Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Game Pass on September 22, 2022, and has some unique gameplay elements within a cute and wonderful world that is well worth exploring. We play as both the reader of a mysterious book, as well as the main character Luka as we set out to make new friends, explore wonderfully crafted areas, and collect charms that can change the course of the storybook that is yet to be written.
Something strange is happening at the old warehouse, and Luka and his friends seem to be the only ones taking notice. Luka lives with his protective Grandmother, as Luka’s father passed away six years ago, and his mother has gone missing. Sneaking out with friends, Luka will uncover hidden truths depending on charms that he finds. Charms can be found through dialogue with other characters or more often by searching every corner of each scene. These special golden charms have a word engraved on them.
As you progress, you will reach turning points where you need to fill in a blank word to carry on to the next part of the story. The story takes some dark turns, and a couple of times now I have caused Luka to meet an unfortunate demise. The book reader then guided me through changing the story using these charms at a previous turning point and an alternate series of events could then played out.
It’s a very clever gameplay element that allows you to jump between branches of the story once you discover more charms. In other adventure games when faced with a branching story choice, usually you can’t go backwards once you’ve decided. In Beacon Pines, it gives you confidence to follow a story path knowing that it’s not one way and that you can go back in time and try a different path, and the game encourages you to do just that.
When the focus is on the book reader, which is narrated extremely well by Kirsten Mize, you navigate these turning points using what’s called The Chronicle. This is an interactive tree with branches that form and grow as you make more choices of words/charms to use. You will want to explore down one path that could unlock additional charms to use in previous branches of the story. This allows you to jump back and forth between various versions of the story to unravel all the mysteries beneath Beacon Pines.
One such example is when you are reminiscing of fishing with Luka’s father. You rummage through your tackle box and depending on which charm you use determines the type of bait you will add to your fishing line. This determines the type of object you will fish up, and these may have a use in further branches of the story. It’s a very clever system and was a lot of fun to go back and forth between story branches, especially if you hit roadblocks of unfortune endings to branches.
While the reader is fully voice acted, all other characters only converse via text and varying murmurs and beep sounds. With the mix of Kristen’s calm instructions and then hurried exclamations, coupled with the mood-setting music, I always felt right there in Luka’s situation. Despite only communicating in beeps, all the other characters have their own personality that is portrayed by their fantastic character design. The artists on this game have done well, not only with characters but all the locations you can visit.
Overall, Beacon Pines is an exciting treat to play through as you choose your own adventure, uncovering charm words which can then be used to alter the storyline. Moving back and forth between branches and time allows you to take different approaches to situations. It was very clever, easy to play and a lot of fun in an amazingly detailed world.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis