If you live in a climate where summer has slipped away and the autumn season is now taking over, cozy games may be a comfort to you. They often present a warm, welcoming feel, whether it be the music, the art style, and often the pace of the gameplay. Beacon Pinesfalls perfectly into that category by literally bringing a storybook to life, turning the pages on a great mystery with twists and turns you won’t see coming.
Small Town, Big Problems
Beacon Pines is a small, quiet town, a perfect setting for a cozy mystery to unfold. Over the course of the game, you not only control the main character Luka, but you help to literally turn the pages of a book. The story within those pages and how they are presented were the standouts as I played this game.
A large chunk of the game is voice-acted and executed to near perfection. Whether you’re chatting to your grandmother, a good friend named Rolo, the town’s mayor, or peeking in on a memory from the past, the narrator is there to guide you through the pages of the Beacon Pinesstory. Kirsten Mize has a calming voice when needed and an excited one when the occasion calls for it. She helps create context, and does what this game does best; it makes you feel like someone is reading you a bedtime story. Her performance alone is worth the price of admission in my mind.
The gameplay itself consists of simple mechanics like walking around the town and speaking to various townsfolk. Each one will have its own perspective on the mystery at hand, allowing you not only to gather clues but to obtain “charms,” which are the main mechanic of the game. These charms can be used in key storybook moments, where you select what you want to say at the moment. This will change the story going forward, branching off into a different path.
Not all of these decisions end with a happy ending or a satisfying who-done-it conclusion. Without spoiling exactly who and what is involved in the overarching mystery; there are, as the game puts it, “deadly consequences.” Thankfully, there really is no fail state in Beacon Pines, instead, part of the cozy, simpler, and calming personality of the game kicks in when it allows you to turn back the pages and try the scenario with a different charm at any time.
Getting Cozy in Beacon Pines
As I mentioned above, Beacon Pines features great presentations all around. On the surface, it may seem like a game tailored towards children or a younger generation, but I was surprised multiple times by the more mature scenarios your characters are put in and how they are resolved. It’s all so much more meaningful because the writing is phenomenal. Whether the story is being narrated or just popping up in text bubbles, it’s entertaining and meaningful. This helps you care about the town and its people, no matter the conversation or relationship.
The music is amazing as well. Similarly to the narration, it’s calming when it needs to be and ramps up at just the right time to create tension or excitement. Beacon Pines is an indie game with an exceptional soundtrack I just have to listen to over and over in these increasingly chilly months ahead.
Beacon Pines has a welcoming look and feel with a deeper and darker story that is worth exploring. Whether it’s the art style that catches your eye, or you’re just looking for a compelling and well-written mystery, you won’t be disappointed with what’s inside the pages of this storybook. Without a doubt, Beacon Pines will not only give you that cozy feel many of us look for this time of year, but it will also present great characters and a town worth exploring. As you flip the pages with an incredible narrator, I’m confident this will be another indie darling we’ll be talking about at the end of 2022.