BEAST is a gridless tactical turn-based RPG where moral choices during battle influence the gameplay, and we got to try out the Early Access of the game.
Taking place in 1593, we follow the story of Anton and Prince Nicolai. The story of the game mainly revolves around Anton as he returns home after 10 years being a slave. Rather than a warm welcome, Anton is instead greeted by his wife in a coffin and his home village ruined by raiders on top of being infested with a deadly plague. He’s now tasked to lead a team on a holy mission to end this infectious plague.
Prince Nicolai on the other hand was imprisoned at a young age and later adopted by King Lurius, and was brought up to become the successor to the throne. Using his privileged position, Prince Nicolai willingly played his part in his father’s schemes until learning about King Lurius’ heinous past.
When Prince Nicolai learns that Anton has been given a critical mission by King Lurius, he sets out to stop Anton for his own selfish reasons.
Story aside, the cinematic cutscenes are beautifully gory and gothic, albeit the characters lack voice acting animations, I can forgive it as the voice acting during the intro and each loading screen before the mission is just amazing.
Being placed in a grimdark medieval setting, each of the maps are just as disturbing as the previous ones, if it’s not from the black ashes from the burning dead bodies, it’s the skulls that are being hung up.
Speaking of gory, every time your playable character kills off an enemy, it plays a fatality sequence where your character can be seen jabbing an Axe into a person’s throat or a pointblank gun shot right to the head. While it’s a pretty satisfying experience, the animation variety is somewhat lacking as you’ll often see the same ones being played.
The gameplay for BEAST is a tactical turn-based RPG that’s akin to Baldur’s Gate 3 or the XCOM games but set in the dark ages. The gist is that players have to form a party of maximum five characters, go on adventures, develop loyalty or suffer betrayal, and face off with your inner demons.
BEAST introduces an interesting mechanic in the form of “Aggressive Mode” and “Passive Mode” where in Aggressive Mode Anton would turn into a devilish monster once your Insanity meter builds up. The Insanity meter can be seen on the red bat on the top of the screen and the meter would build up when we attack enemies, having your teammates be knocked down, and funnily enough, drinking vodka.
When in the monstrous form, Anton would have access to a set of new abilities where you can stun opponents with a glare, transfer damage to the nearest ally, obtain extra bonus action points, make enemy attack their own people, and the like. However, getting into beast form does have its own drawback where you’d increase the stress of your teammates which would lower their loyalty points.
If you’re not a big fan of turning into a monster, the game also offers players “Passive Mode” where you can keep your warband happy and choose to develop your passive abilities instead. Passive abilities include improving loyalty among party members, reduce insanity, damage receive being reduced, etc.
The two mode offer a pretty interesting risk and reward scenario where players have to make a decision whether they want an increase in battle prowess but risk your party members turning their backs on us, or keep everyone happy but play in a more defensive manner.
From our time in the Early Access of the game, we weren’t able to change how our character looks, but we can adjust which traits and skills we can have which would reflect our playstyle.
BEAST gives players two different skill trees, ones your usual skill tree that Anton can spec into three main categories – Blast, Assault, and Command. While the other skill tree revolves around the Aggressive and Passive modes.
There’s also skills 6 skills to develop that would dictate your overall playstyle, and also traits to improve such as: Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Stamina, Awareness, and Will.
While you can choose to build Anton to whatever fits your playstyle, the game also includes preset character stats that focuses on specific archetypes whether you’d want to focus on offense, agility, healing and the like.
Completing each mission will net you skills points where you can distribute freely to improve your skill tree.
Despite that BEAST is still in it early stages, we had an enjoyable time playing the Early Access and would recommend picking up. While the first half hour our playthrough was less exciting as it didn’t develop upon the characters and jumped straight into the heat of things, the gameplay managed to capture our interest, despite needing some time to get used to some of the mechanics.
The highlight as you’d expect from the title of the game is the Beast Mode, along with the Aggressive and Passive modes. It’s an interesting mechanic that’s able to turn the tide of battle but at a cost, so that you don’t go trigger happy with constantly wanting to go Beast Mode.
My main gripes with the game were mainly due to visual issues where some of the animations looked relatively clunky, and also some audio issues where the sound would sometimes be either too loud or even overlap with each other. However, we’d like to emphasise that the game is still in Early Access and we hope to see these issues addressed during the full release.
BEAST Early Access code was reviewed on Steam, code sent by the Publishers.