Beacon Pines Review – Tale as Old as Time

Beacon Pines Key Art
Beacon Pines Key Art

Beacon Pines is a melancholy, time-bending adventure tale from developer Hiding Spot and publisher Fellow Traveller. The nameless author introduces you to the tiny town of Beacon Pines. They are writing the story about to unfold but can’t find the ending they know the story needs. That is where you, as the player, come in.

The almost microscopic town of Beacon Pines is home to 12-year-old protagonist Luka. It’s been a tough life for Luka. Six years ago, his father passed away, and his mother went missing a few months before we met him. Now Luka lives with his distant grandmother in a state of uncertainty and sadness that only the loss of loved ones can leave behind.

Beacon Pines Luka Beck Trish Iggy
Photo Credit: Fellow Traveller

Nevertheless, Luka is 12, and his best friend Rolo is on hand to make the first day of summer memorable. Rolo is a highly energetic and over-imaginative kid, and he believes that he saw strange lights and movement in the abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town. So naturally, it’s time to investigate. This is where the true story of Beacon Pines begins, but there are many places where it could end.

Beacon Pines Features A Branching Story

To complete the story of Luka and Beacon Pines, you have to find charms hidden throughout the town. These charms are words that you can use in certain situations to change the course of fate. Your choices will completely change your experience for what’s next and frequently lead to failure, but failure is the point. The story has a branching narrative system, and you can go back to key points at any time and change what word you use to change the future. By doing this, you learn more and more about the baffling mystery of the tiny town.

Small seeds of the mystery are planted early on. Around the time Luka’s father died, an event known as The Foul Harvest occurred. As the story goes on and different timelines are explored, more and more clues are revealed, and more and more strangeness is revealed. What was once a thriving town that produced the most effective fertilizer ever known is now a crumbling collection of buildings. The town’s founder is long dead, and a new company called Perennial Harvest has moved in to rejuvenate the town.

Beacon Pines storybook branching narrative
Photo Credit: Fellow Traveller

As Luka, you must discover the truth behind your father’s death, your mother’s disappearance, and the strange lights at the old warehouse.

You’ll travel around the town and speak to the remaining townsfolk to discover charms you will use in the future or the past to change your fate. All this while you befriend the new kid in town, Beck, who gets drawn into the mystery after moving to town with her moms, one of whom has just started working for Perennial Harvest.

It’s clear from very early on that something is rotten in Beacon Pines, and the rot is almost certainly due to Perennial Harvest. However, finding out the complete truth about the past and future of the town and its residents is consistently surprising and occasionally absolutely devastating.

The Story In Beacon Pines Is One Of The Best In A Game Today

There are plenty of games with branching narratives and ones that accomplish it effectively. However, Veacon Pines stands above others of its genre by the pure quality of its story and characters. The plot is incredibly well-written and well-rounded, with the details and clues slowly revealed through the different outcomes that Luka and his friends encounter. It is a dense narrative experience. I genuinely couldn’t stop playing it.

The game was completed in a single six-hour session. At no point did I find it a chore to go back after a course of action came to a dead end, as is sometimes the case with this type of gameplay. Instead, it was an exciting prospect as I knew I would learn more about this weird little place.

Beacon Pines Charms
Photo Credit: Fellow Traveller

The art and character styles are adorable, a decidedly pointed contrast to the often tragic story beats. The characters are anthropomorphic animals; Luka is a deer, Beck and Rolo are cats, and the head of Perennial Harvest is a hyena. The accompanying soundtrack is also excellent, with one scene in a later story branch particularly standing out. I won’t say what, but it comes from the option to hum.

Wrapping Up

I genuinely didn’t expect to become so invested in Beacon Pines, especially not almost immediately. Think Eerie Indiana meets Stranger Things crossed with Nancy Drew and the Animals of Farthing Wood. I truly hope that if there isn’t a sequel to Beacon Pines, Hiding Spot can continue to produce this standard of narrative excellence in future projects.

Beacon Pines is out now on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox.

Beacon Pines Key Art
Beacon Pines Review – Tale as Old as Time
Once you start Beacon Pines, don't be surprised if you can't put it down until you finish the game. It's an unforgettable experience that we cannot recommend enough.
Engrossing, detailed story.
Well-written and rounded-out characters.
Excellently cultivated atmosphere.
I cried.
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Written by Emma Oakman

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