Review – The Beast Inside
It’s been a good time for horror games, with the recent release of Moons of Madness, even though some might say that the Switch ports of Dead By Daylight and Resident Evil 6 haven’t done a lot to maintain the streak. It is now time to tackle The Beast Inside, a former Kickstarter project that is finally upon us.
The story follows two characters across two time periods. The first follows Adam Stevenson, a cryptographer for the CIA, and his wife, who move out into the countryside to find peace away from his work as they prepare for the arrival of their child. Exploring the house, Alex finds a journal, and that’s when things get weird, as they are stalked by a mysterious figure. The journal follows the story of our second protagonist, named Nicolas Hyde, in the past, as he is in a fight for survival against a masked killer. As the game progresses, you jump back and forth between the two perspectives.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t quite hit its intriguing premise, with a plot twist that is incredibly predictable. Within the first hour of booting the game up I had a solid idea what would happen and I ended up being spot on. Though that doesn’t mean it’s entirely bad, as the way it’s revealed is much more creative than I had anticipated, and puts the previous events into perspective. Overall I’d say the story is flawed but extremely enjoyable. It’s just a shame that the game ends on a whimper.
The gameplay is split across these two eras with different directions that feel distinct from one another. The past events are much more horror-focused, with various threats and even a few combat situations, while the current events are much more about exploration and puzzle solving. There’s a strong amount of variation in the seven hour long campaign, but not all of it is good. It would have benefited from a more focused gameplay loop instead of shoving in as much stuff as possible.
The everlasting impact that the Amnesia series has had on the horror genre can really be felt here. Interacting with the environment is also pretty much identical to Amnesia, being able to pick up pretty much anything even if it serves no gameplay purpose, although it always makes the world feel more interactive. In the past sections of the game you will be mostly exploring dark areas with a lantern which needs to be refuelled with kerosene, although the need for the lantern isn’t as urgent as it is in Amnesia: this also means the game’s lighting is good enough that you won’t need that in order to see what’s in front of you. Horror games rely on good lighting and for the most part, The Beast Inside nails in that aspect.
As for the horror aspect, this can be a mixed bag at times, but the results are, for the most part, genuinely terrifying. The Inn chapter highlights the game’s strongest and weakest aspects perfectly. At times the game allows itself to build up tension as you explore the inn and move through its many rooms, ending up with a brilliantly executed scare. There are other times in which it will just throw jump scare after jump scare at you, hoping for a few of them to land. Suffice to say, it can get pretty tiresome. Within the 40 minute chapter there must have been at least a dozen jump scare attempts, with only a couple landing. This is a problem throughout the entire game, but the sheer amount of jump scares in this chapter in particular was just downright unnecessary.
Then we got the more action and stealth-focused sequences in The Beast Inside, both of which being best described as “tedious”. The stealth in here is particularly boring, as you have no way to defend yourself. If you get spotted, all you can do is simply run away and hide for a couple of seconds. If you do end up getting caught and die, you’re transported back to a long loading screen. Combat, when it does show up, is almost always underwhelming. One chapter ended with a boss encounter that was just running around to create distance then unloading bullets onto the poor guy’s head a few times. There’s also a few chase sequences which can be pretty fun, especially when you need to do things such as lock-picking quickly.
What surprised me the most about The Beast Inside was its brilliant puzzle design. For the most part, this is reserved for Adam’s story, as he pieces together the mystery by exploring the house and its surrounding areas, genuinely leaving you alone to solve a puzzle with well-designed hints that will push you into the right direction. One of the earliest examples has you using a decoder to decipher a message, with you having to set the entire thing up yourself, following the hints that are left behind with little to not hand holding to help you out. Even with all the uneven design choices, I still found my time with The Beast Inside to be mostly positive. There was always something drawing me through the experience and the bad moments were at least brief, over within a couple of minutes.
Visually, The Beast Inside is a well-put product. With some great designs throughout the game, enviroments are detailed and packed with items to interact with. Character models generally look really good as well, with the killer’s design being one I was particularly fond of. Though it’s not perfect, as some odd animations in the more scripted set pieces took me out of the experience more often than not.
The sound design is, for the most part, pretty solid, with a great soundtrack that builds up the atmosphere. With that being said, there are still some big issues: for instance, jumpscares are always accompanied with obnoxious loud noises in a forced attempt to get a reaction from the player. Whilst the voice acting will stumble often with laughable line delivery, it doesn’t happen throughout the game that often, and during the more dramatic moments it gets much better.
The Beast Inside is a terrifying horror experience with some interesting ideas, even though not all of them land and the overuse of jump scares can get a bit tiresome. Still, I would highly recommend this to fans of the genre, as there aren’t many legitimately scary games like this one out there nowadays.
A visually appealing experience with a good amount of location variety.
Strong puzzles and varied gameplay come together to keep the experience feeling fresh, though not all of it lands.
The weak voice acting can’t bring down the rest of the pretty decent sound design.
The Beast Inside might be frustrating at times, but it is still a terrifying horror game like few out there nowadays.
Final Verdict: 7.5
The Beast Inside is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of The Beast Inside was provided by the publisher.