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Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S Game Review



Beacon Pines


Format: Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Developer: Hiding Spot
RRP: £16.74
Click here to buy from Xbox Marketplace
Age Restrictions: 12+
Release Date: 22 September 2022

Something strange is happening at the old warehouse, and Luka and his friends seem to be the only ones taking notice. Sneak out late, make new friends, uncover hidden truths, and collect words that will change the course of fate. While helping Luka investigate the strange goings-on in Beacon Pines, you’ll collect special golden charms, each with a word engraved on it. These charms can be used at certain turning points in the story to fill in a blank word and drastically change everything that follows. As the book's reader, you’ll navigate the story’s turning points using The Chronicle: an interactive story tree that branches and grows along with your choices. Exploring one set of events can unlock new charms to use on another branch, leading you to jump back and forth between entirely different versions of the story in order to unravel the mysteries at the heart of Beacon Pines...


Collect charm cards to unlock choices in the game

Beacon Pines is a cute, yet slightly creepy adventure set within a mysterious book. You play as both the reader of the book and its main character, Luka. This is a young person's adventure game. I say "young" person, because seasoned gamers will find this too easy. In fact it's simple to complete in a lazy afternoon without all that much effort.

The game starts with one storyline before you come to a point where you must choose how to progress. If you don't have the right charm card you'll need to go back to an earlier time period and try furthering the story in that direction. At first this seems clever, if a little confusing, as you jump backwards and forwards it can be a little difficult to remember what has and hasn't happened in the timeline you're currently in.


Beacon Pines is beautifully illustrated

However, on reflection, it's really a lot of smoke and mirrors aimed at disguising the fact that you don't actually have any real choices in the game. The way the game's mechanics work is that you follow the main narrative, watching the plot unfold, and at a certain point you can make a choice on how to react to an event. The fact is that you need charm cards in order to do this and you'll find that the charm card you need to progress the story is missing. You'll have to travel back through a past event to follow the story in a different direction, before you are gifted the correct charm card in order to move the story on in the original time line.


The game is populated by cute characters

At any point you can travel back to one of these points and experiment with any of the other charm cards. There's usually only 2 or 3 that can be used for each point. But it's worth experiencing them all, especially when you get to the end of the game.

There's a mystery to uncover and you and your friends are just the ones curious enough to get to the bottom of it. Something odd is going on and it appears some of the villagers may know more than they are letting on. But fathoming out who is working for the forces of good and who is working in their own self interest is something that is going to be uncomfortable to get to the bottom of.


Working out which characters are hiding secrets is part of the fun

The character illustrations are bold and sweet. The only voice heard in the game is that of the book (voiced wonderfully by Kirsten Mize). This is a warm character that draws the player into the world of the game. There's plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments when you choose the wrong ending. The one aspect of this game that I couldn't fathom was why the developers occasionally threw in the odd swear word. It doesn't fit with the game's demographic.

Overall, it's more an interactive story which shepherds you through the events. But this doesn't matter. Once you get hooked on the narrative it's easy to get lost in events and feel like you are controlling the story.

It's a wonderfully engaging game that will leave you with a warm feeling on completion.


Darren Rea

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£20 Xbox Live Credits