Title: The Beast Inside
Developer: Illusion Ray Studios
Publisher: Movie Games
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Horror
Available On: PC
Official Site: The Beast Inside
Release Date: October 17, 2019
Version Tested: PC
Where to Buy it: Steam
A family curse. Great visuals and super interesting villains. A creepy house in the middle of nowhere with a dark past. A hyper-realistic Kickstarter success. The Beast Inside really has everything going for it on the surface.
The Beast Inside follows two characters, Nick and Adam, living in Blackstone during different time periods but suffering from the same odd experiences:
Boston, 1979, Adam, the CIA cryptanalyst, leaves the city and moves to the countryside with his wife, Emma. His handlers are afraid they won’t be able to keep him safe there, but Adam believes he needs a peaceful place in the woodland, to take a shot at the military code…. In the attic Adam finds a mysterious diary written by a man called Nicolas Hyde, allegedly, a past resident of the same house who lived there in the 19th Century. Once opened, the diary carries the nightmares of the past right into Adam’s times, putting the lives of Adam and Emma in great danger. Density increases as these two stories come to an inevitable crash. Distant past and his eternal prisoner – Nicolas against Adam, cryptanalyst from the Cold War. What can it lead to? In tangled times, who will you trust?
The story sounds incredibly promising, but they don’t really stick the landing. The Beast Inside is split between playing as Adam and as Nick, and it starts out as a really cool idea. Playing two different characters living different times in history suffering from similar issues in the same location has some super great potential, but Nick’s chapters really outshine Adam’s. Really, the chapters start to feel incredibly different, and it leaves the story more disjointed than anything else. On top of that, for anyone who plays a lot of horror games, you’ll probably guess the ending before the game can even really begin.
On top of the narrative issues, there is a major pacing issue with some of the puzzles and switching narratives. Especially in a horror game, keeping the adrenaline up or focusing in on that slow burn is essential to making a title with spookier elements work really well. And when the pacing is off it can totally dismantle what the game is trying to do. Fortunately for The Beast Inside, it’s atmosphere saves it in this regard.
While the narrative is not The Beast Inside’s strongest element, its visuals and aesthetics are. Whenever I found myself super frustrated with other elements, I would remind myself of just how awesome it looked. It was almost like I hoped that the stunning, spooky visuals would make up for the other parts of the game that just didn’t live up to it. The visuals work really well to create the perfect atmosphere for both time periods. Nick’s chapters have a dark, Victorian feel while Adam’s definitely feel like they are straight out of the ’70s. It’s obvious that these hyper-realistic visuals were created thoughtfully and extremely well; I just wish the same care had been applied to other parts of the game.
Most frustrating of all are the controls. I started off playing with an Xbox controller, and it seemed to be going okay. However, it got to a point where I couldn’t move on in the story because the controller wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. Chalking it up to my long-unused Xbox controller, I switched to my keyboard and mouse. But, later, I ran into the same problem where something didn’t work on the keyboard but worked with the controller. This having to switch back and forth really wasn’t worth all the effort.
All in all, the greatest disappointment came from all of the missed opportunities in The Beast Inside. This would be a stellar game if the narrative was a bit more focused and if the controls worked the way they were supposed to. In all honesty, I could have done without Adam’s character and his chapters altogether. If the developers do in fact decide to develop a sequel, I really hope they strive for a bit more polish and focus in the future, because their ideas are on point!
Verdict: There is a lot to praise about the choices and development of The Beast Inside. Despite the predictable story and some of its more frustrating elements, it is clear that the development team tried to think outside the box about a few things and some of it does pay off! You’ll find yourself really wanting to enjoy The Beast Inside… However, in an effort to do too much, the game suffers in a major way, and the great visuals and interesting choices just aren’t enough to save it.
- Cool visuals and atmosphere
- Interesting gameplay choices
- Interesting shifts in perspective
- Lack of polish
- Predictable story and unlikeable characters
- Pacing issues
- Control issues