The idea of a video game with a good branching storyline has always intrigued me. This is one of the things that first intrigued me when I saw Beacon Pines. Throughout the story you get to choose words which will impact the world and how events unfold. This sounded like a really interesting idea as a good branching storyline video game could be fun. On top of this the setting of cute/charming characters combined with a dark mysterious plot seemed interesting. Beacon Pines is a compelling game of branching storylines that is fun even if it is a little too linear.
In Beacon Pines you play as Luka. Something strange is going on in the town of Beacon Pines. People are disappearing around town, and strange lights are emitting from the old abandoned warehouse on the edge of town. Luka and his friends are the only ones that seem to notice that things are off. Can you uncover the mystery and save the town?
Playing Beacon Pines kind of feels like a combination of an adventure RPG and a story driven game.
Throughout the game you control Luka as he moves around Beacon Pines trying to piece together the mystery. As you explore the town you can interact with objects and talk with the townfolk in order to obtain more information to help you solve the mystery. While exploring you will acquire various words which come into play later in the game.
Much of the game is driven by the story. You mostly follow a set path moving from one objective to another. Every so often you will encounter a key point in the story. At these times you will get to use the words that you acquire throughout your journey. The word you choose to use has a significant impact on how the story progresses. The chosen word will send you down one of the branching storyline paths.
You will eventually hit the end of one of the story paths. This is not the end of the game though. You can pop up the branching storyline tree and choose one of the key points you previously. You can then use a different word to travel down a different story path. This continues as you move back and forth between different branches until you finally reach the ultimate ending of the game.
While I think Beacon Pines is a good game, it is not going to be a game for everyone. The adventure RPG elements of the game are solid. Being a good sleuth and finding key information can help you make progress in the game. This also introduces some light puzzle solving into the game.
Unfortunately the adventure RPG elements are not big components of the game. In fact much of this element is quite linear. The game basically tells you what you need to do, and then you just do it. Going off the path at times can give you additional information which might help you later on. This element of the game is pretty by the books though.
Because the adventure RPG elements of the game are so straightforward, this means that the game relies pretty heavily on its story. This is the main reason why I think Beacon Pines is not going to be for everyone. If you are the type of gamer who cares significantly more about the gameplay than the story, the game isn’t going to be for you. While the adventure RPG elements are fine, they alone are not enough of a reason to check out Beacon Pines. You need to like story driven games and be particularly interested by the game’s premise to get the most out of it. If this doesn’t describe you, I don’t think Beacon Pines will be for you.
While the emphasis on story will likely drive away some players, this is not necessarily a bad thing for Beacon Pines. For the most part I thought the story was quite good. It is hard to describe what the story is like without spoiling it. With the story being a main selling point for the game, I don’t want to spoil it so I can’t go into a ton of detail about it.
What I found unique about the story is that it has an interesting blend between cute/charming and mysterious/dark. Beacon Pines’ world and characters are cute/charming. The whole visual design of the game is really well done. In a lot of ways the story has a lot in common with your typical coming of age/kids being the only ones who can save the day story. The characters are unique with their own personalities and are generally pretty interesting.
The game has it darker side as well. Don’t get me wrong. The game is not particularly scary. Instead the story is more dark/mysterious. It kind of reminded me of Twin Peaks and other stories in that vein. I am not going to get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but I found the mystery pretty satisfying where I wanted to see how it would end.
I had fun playing Beacon Pines as it is a good game. Probably the biggest issue I had with the game is just that it is more linear than I expected it to be.
The thing that initially intrigued me about Beacon Pines was the fact that you could change the story and explore different branches of the storyline. I found this premise to be really intriguing. The game does a solid enough job utilizing it. There are quite a few different branching storylines that you can explore. Some are similar to others, but many are completely unique and totally different from the other storyline branches. The decisions you make can have a big impact on the story. Each branching storyline is longer than I anticipated as well.
I generally like the branching storyline mechanic. I just wish the game did a little more with it. The gameplay for the most part is pretty linear. For a lot of the game you can explore the town freely. Sometimes you can find additional information going off the main path. For the most part you are going to be sticking to the main plotline though. The game basically tells you where to go and you need to follow the directions in order to progress the story.
At the decision points the game lets you choose from a select set of words that you have uncovered. You can visit these different branches in whatever order you want. To get to the actual ending though, you eventually have to pretty much explore all of them in order to get the words you need to reach the end. While the game gives you choices, at times it feels like it is guiding you in a specific direction to move the story forward.
As Beacon Pines is pretty linear, the length is more fixed than some other games. There is no way to fail the game so you don’t have to worry about failure. The length of the game is mostly going to vary due to how much you take your time. If you rush through the story it will take less time than if you take your time.
I ended up exploring the world pretty thoroughly, but also tried to avoid wasting time whenever possible. I ended up beating the game in around 6.5 hours. If you basically just move from objective to objective I think you could beat the game in around five hours. If you really take your time it might take seven hours or so. This is not a bad length. As the game is mostly built around its story and it is quite linear though, there isn’t a lot of replay value to the game.
For the most part I enjoyed my time with Beacon Pines. I found it to be a fun enjoyable story driven game. There is some light puzzle solving and adventure RPG elements. Neither are a big part of the game though. To fully enjoy the game, you need to be intrigued by story driven games and the premise. I thought the story was quite good blending charming/cute elements with some darker more mysterious elements. The various story paths actually differ quite a bit, and I was intrigued to see where it would ultimately go. Probably my biggest issue with Beacon Pines is that it felt more linear than I would have liked.
If you generally don’t care for story driven games or aren’t that interested by the premise, I don’t see Beacon Pines being for you. If you like a good story driven game though and are intrigued by the premise, I think you will enjoy Beacon Pines and should consider picking it up.
Release Date: September 22nd, 2022 | Systems: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Developer: Hiding Spot | Publisher: Fellow Traveller | ESRB Rating: Teen for Language
Genres: Adventure, Indie, Role Playing, Story Driven
Official Website: https://hidingspotgames.com/beaconpines.html
- Interesting story combining cute/charming characters with a dark mysterious secret.
- The branching storylines differ quite a bit from one another.
- The gameplay is more linear than I was expecting.
- The game is built more around its story than its gameplay.
Recommendation: For fans of story driven video games that are intrigued by the game’s premise.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Hiding Spot and Fellow Traveller for the review copy of Beacon Pines used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.