20 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 3.2 hrs on record
Posted: Apr 20 @ 9:38pm
Updated: Apr 20 @ 11:17pm
Product received for free

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Beyond The Veil is a minimalist top-down shooter and RPG hybrid that focuses on story and gameplay. It's an indie project primarily written and created by a solo developer, and it fills the indie scene with another name worth mentioning. I have only scratched the surface of what the game has to offer so far, and I have to say, I am completely hooked. There's just something magical about this game that is so devoid of graphical details that makes my imagination run wild. Couple that with the eerie and mysterious world and story, you bet I am eager to dive back in to find out more. If life didn't becken, I can see myself sitting through this game from beginning to end, without pause.

You play as the wanderer, and don't worry about being confused in the beginning, because like you, he/she is confused as well. Armed with a trusty sidearm and a background story that is dark in overtones, set your foot forward and face the unknowns.

The game is broken up into small encounters with traveling, eating/drinking, resting, meditating, crafting, etc, in between the encounters. You have four different attributes, two physical, and two mental, that work together to determine your overall condition to keep exploring or needing to return to your home base, where your much-needed rest will refresh your attributes so that you can venture out again. So this means that you will see some aspects of the game that may be a little slower for those who wanted nothing but the non-stop top-down shooter aspect. So please understand this when you look into this game. Also the reading is fairly substantial in number of small reveals of understanding of the world as well as the wanderer's own doubts, so it's really exciting to get move involved the deeper you venture. But at the same time, if the reading really doesn't suit you, you may find yourself pulling back. But I love that the game dares to allow you to visualize the world as a fantasy fiction novel might. Enough is revealed to lead you on, but nothing gives concrete details but your own mind.

The small encounters you have to travel to, and the zones all have outer edges, from where you can exit and go to the map. Within the encounters, there are usually enemies, both ranged and melee. The ranged ones have seemingly exceptional aim or scattershot guns that have enormous clips. I only played on the easier of the two available difficulties so far, so I have yet to suffer a death. I shudder to think what the harder difficulty might bring. Perhaps, just perhaps, after I complete my first playthrough on the "Calm" mode, I will dare venture into the darkness one more time. The game only offers a single save file, and starting a new game will erase your former progress, so I definitely want to wait on that, no matter what.

Part of the difficulty I have been having is that the game can be played with controller alone, keyboard alone, or keyboard + mouse combination in the standard twin-stick shooter type orientation for the last option. But with the controller alone or keyboard alone, you only fire upwards and you have to use the controls to spin the room until you are facing whatever is "up" in order to shoot at it. I have recorded the first bit of my gameplay using the controller, and I have since played a bit more beyond that point using the controller as well. But I think it's time for me to make that switch to the keyboard and mouse for a varied directional aim and fire, to go with WASD for movement as you would expect the keyboard layout for a top-down shooter.

The following video is my first look at the game:

https://youtu.be/k8jBR-YIIaU

You can see from the many sections of reading that you should expect to see that as well. The game starts on an internal monologue that is ten paragraphs long. I devoured it, but I can see why you may wish to skip a game because of the reading. Everyone's standards are different, so I hope that you like what you see.

The easier difficulty seems to be quite user-friendly, as I have taken a lot of bullets to the face and have yet any life-threatening injuries.

Controls
I think the best control layout is keyboard + mouse, but the controller function works fine, as I played almost 2 hours with it so far. I did not test the keyboard only controls, but there is no reason to suspect that it would not work well.

Graphics
Minimum graphics, even the top-down shooter sections are minimal. From screenshots and the trailers, I can tell that there are going to be some dramatic-looking boss-type enemies in my future. But for now, the different enemies I have encountered so far are all represented by a simple sprite to represent what kind of enemy they are.

What is interesting is that the entire game seems to be built on a black background, with white shapes and lines in the foreground with varying translucencies. The only other color used seems to be red. It's so simple in appearance and so clean. When I am playing, I am unaware of the complete lack of other colors.

Let your imagination run with this game, I am sure you will understand what I mean when you start playing.

Music
Pretty tense, and pretty dramatic. I like it a lot. In each encounter, the music will let you know whether there are still enemies nearby looking to end your life. But if you really don't want to listen to the music, you can just mute it and play your own music, I suppose.

There seems to be an issue with the sound slider at the main menu screen. Sliding it up and down does not seem to change the volume at all. I hope this gets fixed in the future.

Audience
Not for the weak-hearted or those who cannot stand to read anything in games. A lot of the game's quality is in the story, the lore, and bits and pieces of the world that is revealed. You can just look a bit at the gameplay and if you feel that the color scheme looks too strange, you may wish to avoid it too. The easier difficulty seems to be very user friendly, so I don't think the game tries to cater only to hardcore gamers with artificially boosted difficulties.

Pricing
Launch price is $14.99 USD base with a 10% discount. I do think this game is worth full price.

Areas to Improve
-The volume slider at the main menu needs to do something
-Traveling is a bit slow, there is no reason why there's necessarily a wait for the progress bar to wind down.
-At the end of a battle, after all enemies are cleared from the area, all of the available pick-ups should be highlighted or have arrows pointing to without needing to use any resources or the compass. This would save a lot of time trying to conserve resources and wandering all over the map looking for them.
-Controls cannot be remapped, please consider adding remapping options.
-There's no display at all in the controller scheme about mouse+keyboard option, but this is clearly the best option to play the game!
-Some grammar/spelling errors.

Conclusion
Beyond The Veil is a fairly priced mixture of top-down shooter and RPG elements that dares the player to mentally construct the world within. As essentially a single-developer indie title, it will not appeal to everyone, but will offer quite an exciting adventure for those who give it a fair shake. Pick it up today and let your imagination run wild.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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