Beacon Pines (Nintendo Switch) – The test

Two best friends in search of adventures, a mysterious company with dubious intentions and well-kept secrets, this is the cocktail that the studio offers us Hiding Spot with Beacon Pines. This narrative adventure game, very cute but with a scary subtext, takes us on an adventure in which we choose the way forward… But be careful, it’s all about choosing your words well…

A dive into the heart of the story

We are directly greeted by the voice off telling the story of Beacon Pines, explaining to us that what is particular about this story is its lack of an ending. We quickly understand that it is we who will be led to seek an outcome.

A denouement, certainly, but not just any! Our decisions will thus have a decisive impact on the course of the adventure of our heroes, most often taking them to a sordid end… To do this, we will have to use the amulets obtained throughout the story, either through dialogues, either by exploring the fascinating world of Beacon Pines. These golden amulets are characterized by a single word, which will be used to complete certain sentences in the book, drastically changing the course of history or creating new paths.

Our progress in history is highlighted by the presence of the ‘Chronicle’, a tree materializing our progress by the appearance of branches showing all the possible paths, all the possibilities that present themselves to us. In this story, we are thus both the main character and the sidekick of the narrator, creating our own story alongside him.

An endearing universe

From the beginning of the story – a story about change, according to the voice off -, we meet Luka, a young stag meditating on his father’s grave. The very beautiful graphics, produced by Ilse Harting and portraying an idealized city full of life, do not prevent the installation of a melancholy tone on the stage, supported by a very beautiful musical composition. Quickly, however, she is disturbed by the appearance of Rolo, a young fox, Luka’s best friend, who at first seems a little clumsy.

The characters are thus all anthropomorphic and very different, whether by the variety of expressions of each or by the small intonations of tones, a little like Animal Crossing, which characterize them. Their personality is easily discernible, without falling into a real cliché. The interactions are animated, realistic and numerous, and from the beginning we can feel with Luka and Rolo, drawn into adventures very proper to two children of their age, carefree about the rest and passionate about puzzles.

At the pace of their investigations, we discover the atmosphere of a detailed city, with which it is possible to interact and whose exploration is a pleasant discovery. The music accompanies us throughout without being too much, and finalizes the portrait of this place where everything seems idyllic.

A game that turns sour

Quickly however – otherwise it wouldn’t be funny – our main character finds himself confronted with the secrets of this city, at first sight ideal, during the exploration of the surrounding forest. Alone or accompanied, depending on our first choices, he will thus discover a mysterious laboratory with anonymous and inconvenient occupants. Very quickly, the game really shows us the consequences that our actions can have, in a way that seizes us as it is abrupt and fast, but also allows us to quickly introduce the mechanics of the Chronicle. It is not because one embodies a child that one is protected, and Hiding Spot shows us well here. It will therefore be necessary to redouble our attention to what we can say or choose to do, because everything here has a consequence…

A web of gold thread

As we explore, and thus depending on the choices of amulets made, the web embellishment of the history of this city is woven and brings us more and more questions.

Fortunately, the game does not get lost in this diversity of tracks, the different possible paths being divided into three to four different main roads, easy to distinguish and quickly selected. There is therefore both the charm of the investigation that we are conducting and an ease in not losing the common thread. When we obtain new amulets and replay scenes, we open the door to new information and possibilities, always commented by a rather funny and sympathetic voice-over, never felt like being too much. These amulets also serve as a little story that adds a little ‘plus’ to Luka in his lore personal, which we will not reveal to you here…

The progress is also automatically saved and the chapters quite short, which makes the game smoother, without unpleasant surprises. You also have access to the Chronicle at any time, which makes the experience very personal, as is the order in which you want to experience the game.

Acolytes with a strong character

We’ve already mentioned the characters above, but it’s worth emphasizing the research that has gone into their writing. The interactions, benevolent, sometimes tinged with sadness or a certain helplessness in the face of events, are a pleasure to read. We were thus surprised by the development of certain characters, who were thus able to reveal themselves to us at different times, showing us that no one is fundamentally bad in this universe. The humor is also very present, punctuated with small pleasant touches and which make it possible to release somewhat the tension present for our young protagonists.

Scary passages

Even if the general atmosphere of the game is rather good-natured, certain moments could surprise us, or at least make us uncomfortable. Without detailing them here, let’s say that certain situations may have come close to the body horror at times, and must have traumatized our dear Luka for a while. Nevertheless, this remains anecdotal, but thus allows to bring pep’s in this adventure which would remain only cute without it. The tone of the writing, especially during bad endings, can also make one feel a sense of melancholy, even unease, so brilliantly is it done.

A compelling action…

Rolo really likes to take himself for a detective and a firm believer in the supernatural, it is with pleasure that we find ourselves with him in the face of many nods to investigation and SF films. Between interrogations, infiltration, secret passages, strange experiments and epic action passages, we also meet remarkably written characters on the side of the ‘villains’, making us uncomfortable without really being able to put our finger on the ‘why’. The chases and moments of anguish are thus very successful, and show us that it is not necessary to QTY or any action on our part to effectively instill in us a consequent stress.

… To writing always full of emotion

Many moments nevertheless remain marked by an aforementioned melancholy, which is particularly noticeable in the enigmatic passages of Luka’s dreams, or during certain sequences marked by rather powerful and revealing dialogues. These few moments show all the depth of the characters as well as the personal stories of each, this in a form of immobility and tranquility which also leads the player to reflect.

A story with many twists and turns

Without really being a very complicated investigation, the scenario of the game is still worth the detour, with a number of plot twists and revelations that punctuate the different endings and add a depth to the story that is very interesting. Be careful, not everything is what it seems at first sight…

The player is thus faced with a new piece of information that changes everything, just before having to start a new game. run. Little by little, we manage to recreate the puzzle, putting everything back together as we go along, and it’s truly exhilarating.

This multiplicity of possibilities can also be a tad annoying. The existence of these different universes created by the book means that we know things that the characters of other ‘universes’ do not yet know. This leads us to frustrating situations where we can see Luka blindly trusting certain people; or miss a connection that may seem obvious to us. Fortunately, these sequences usually settle quickly, leaving us with just enough adrenaline to keep the suspense going.

The story is thus quite short, but remains interesting because of this multiplicity of possibilities. An epilogue, as long as we manage to reach the real end, gives us the satisfaction of seeing our actions be rewarded.

Conclusion

MOST

  • A magnificent universe
  • Endearing and surprising characters
  • An interesting choice system
  • A story pushed to the limit
  • Dialogues that sometimes lead to personal reflection
  • A skillfully maintained suspense
  • A captivating soundtrack

THE LESSERS

  • It would have been interesting to play different main characters from time to time
  • Some side quests do not find their importance
  • Some aspects are easy to predict

Note detail

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  • Soundtrack
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  • Script
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  • Graphics
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  • Price / content ratio
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Beacon Pines (Nintendo Switch) – The test