Beacon Pines sees you selecting words to choose where the story goes next. It’s like Mad Libs, except you might accidentally get someone killed or completely alter a life.
You’ll join Luka, a charming (but rambunctious) deer boy living with his grandmother in a small farm town. You’ll hang with your other cute animal buddies. Go snoop on secret things in the woods. Make trouble for your friend’s sister. Get killed with a knife by strange people in hazmat suits. A delightful story of growing. Well, so long as you manage to avoid that last one. This farm town has some ugly secrets, after all, and you just might stumble across them if you aren’t careful.
It’s sad to see such a lovely character come to a disturbing end, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The game plays like an interactive storybook, stopping play at key moments to ask you to fill in a word in the story. Depending on which word you pick, you’ll help Luka keep his adventures going, or you may end up in a lethal situation where there’s little escape. As this is just a book, though, you can flip back a few pages, stick another word in that troublesome spot, and then see where that takes you. Hopefully somewhere that Luka is alive. Make sure you explore the environments and talk to everyone thoroughly, as this unlocks extra words that may be useful in saving your skin later.
Beacon Pines makes interesting use of a collection of words, having them be the only thing that can save you from a cruel fate. It’s a compelling concept that’s straightforward, yet complex, and I’m very curious to see how this will play out over the full game. Or how often I’ll screw up by putting a cuss word into the story.
Beacon Pines is currently in development, but in the meantime, you can follow its creation on the developer’s site.
Joel has been covering indie games for various sites including IndieGames.com, Siliconera, Gamasutra, Warp Door, CG Magazine, and more over the past seven years, and has written book-length studies on Undertale and P.T.. Joel is constantly on the lookout for digital experiences that push the boundaries of what games can be, and seeks to delve into the creative process, meanings, and emotion labor that goes into the work of artists worldwide.