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Beacon Pines Review in 3 Minutes – A Delightful Narrative Adventure

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Beacon Pines is a narrative adventure game developed by Hiding Spot. You play as both the reader of a book and its sweet young protagonist, Luka VanHorn, who is determined to uncover the secrets of the titular Beacon Pines.

As you walk around exploring the world, you will occasionally uncover charms, keywords that will allow you to determine the fate of the story when you reach moments called Turning Points. Sometimes, you may only have a single option when you reach one, so you must continue along that particular path to find additional charms. You can then use a mechanic called The Chronicle to travel back to past Turning Points and choose a newly discovered charm that will set you on a new path.

It’s important to note this isn’t a game where your choices carve out a unique version of the story. Instead, Beacon Pines uses its branching paths to lead you towards its true ending. It’s an unusual concept but one that really paid off to me.

The reason is that it captures the role-playing concept of the player knowing more than their character. This allows particular moments to shine because the game doesn’t have to rely on telling you everything about a character if it doesn’t fit the current context of the story, meaning that a single line can land with far greater impact in another branch later on. I applaud Hiding Spot for piecing together the story in such a clever way.

The hand-crafted art style of Beacon Pine‘s locales really sells the storybook setting. And where do I even begin with these character designs? I was enamored from the moment I laid eyes on them, particularly the delightful librarian. Despite the gorgeous exterior, Beacon Pines hides some creepy sci-fi secrets that create an excellent pace for the stories as you become lulled into the coziness before being snapped back into spooks.

I personally found the inclusion of a narrator somewhat jarring, as the game sets you up as the reader of the book, so I wanted to experience the story as a reader, not a listener. So I opted to turn the narrator’s volume off in favor of reading along to the story against the backdrop of its lovely, atmospheric soundtrack.

I would have loved to see more opportunities to take the charms I’d discovered and go back to  rewrite further storylines. That said, I’m more than content with the variety that was offered without sacrificing the tight, polished stories that all provided insight and pushed the overarching narrative forward.

Beacon Pines is best binged over one or two sessions, coming in at about six hours or so, as the short and winding nature of the story can make it a little tricky to remember exactly who was where in your current timeline. This didn’t hinder my experience, although a recap feature of key events on a timeline would have been welcomed amongst the pages of The Chronicle.

Overall, I had a really wonderful time with Beacon Pines. Exploring one story to its fullest from a number of different perspectives felt fresh and engaging. I was compelled by the world and its characters and was eager to reach the heartfelt ending. It is a polished, delightful experience, and I look forward to whatever Hiding Spot has in store next.

Beacon Pines is available now for $19.99 on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Xbox Game Pass.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Beacon Pines.

About the author

Amy Campbell
Amy Campbell is a contributor for The Escapist. She spends her days behind the scenes, helping develop video games as a Producer within the Australian game development scene. By night (or very early morning), she turns her attention to celebrating and discussing the latest wonders of the industry she loves. Having started her career in games with OnlySP back in 2018, Amy has continued to engage and critique a wide range of indie and AAA games over the years in written, video, and live-streamed formats. Highlights of her work include interviews with composer Austin Wintory and actor Michael Mando, as well as Adventure Is Nigh! – the D&D series exclusive to The Escapist. Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media, Diploma of Game Design, and a Certificate IV in Fitness, making her the most game-obsessed fitness instructor you’ll ever meet.