8 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 31.2 hrs on record (22.6 hrs at review time)
Posted: Nov 8, 2021 @ 4:15pm

Early Access Review
For a quick summary of my thoughts:
-Core Gameplay: Good for frantic running and gunning with plenty of room for exploration and looting. The DNA system can be a bit of a gamble but often makes planning a run kind of fun in its own right. My biggest complaint may just be that the platforming can feel a little wonky and the personal shield drone passive ruins my aim.
-Writing: Witty and full of life. Gives a good voice to previous clones, appropriately gruesome descriptions to the mutations granted to new clones, and many weapons are given a description that seems like it could be right at home in any gun catalogue of the future.
-Design: While not always the best environments for jump pads and platforming, every faction's turf looks unique and they often find some way to explain what you have to do using the level.
-Music: Not the most memorable but it gets the job done in giving wonder to the world when it's not trying to kill you and applying pressure when it very clearly is.

All in all, this is a game I feel needs more love than it does currently.

Longer thoughts:

I love it when games try and make their elements diagetic, and Beacon does this well in many areas. The first and most obvious is how every run in a different clone trying to succeed where the last clone failed, but there's much more. TV Screens and LED floors will often tell you when you're in a monster closet and how many enemies you have to kill to escape it, and PRISM facilities will often guide you to what you need to do next with just a few lines and rectangles. When showing this game to friends, I often find myself saying "reading the level explains the level."

The design as a whole gives this feeling of a crisp, clean future of simple and industrial designs made by powerful companies. Thanks to being crash landed on an alien planet where one company tried to fail to set up an operation, this is put in great contrast with general ruin, slimy infestations, raptor nests, crabs, onyx gravity bubbles, and sites converted into places of alien faiths. Outside of being chased by murderous security robots, you should not be too sure about what you'll expect, with an exception for some general beats each map will have.

To defend yourself, you'll have a variety of weapons and upgrades to choose from. You may start with an 8-shot plasma pistol but you can find other weapons designed for human use ranging from normal to crazy, sonic and tesla guns designed for the drones or other machines, actual drones that can join you in battle (and in one case sabotage you as I mentioned in quick thoughts), and weapons that have been improvised from what's been found among the other enemy factions. There's also plenty of weapon modified by previous clones, each with their own fun little second descriptions about what the clone did to modify them and/or how they chose the new names. Gameplay tends to favor keeping yourself on the move while the enemy either fires slow-moving sonic projectiles or chases you with flamethrowers or claws, so be careful not to grab too many weapons with slow reloads. The ability to recycle loot you don't need also gives plenty of reason to stick your neck out for something new, even if it might turn out to be something different than what you wanted.

There's some good room for experimentation in the different runs too, since every level has its loot caches both marked on your map and kept secret, but that's not the focus of this paragraph. The DNA system will be, as every enemy killed has a chance to drop a sample of themselves that can be grafted into the next clone. Using these strands to modify stats can help you plan your next run a little, but there's also some interesting gambles both in applying modifiers and receiving mutations. If those rolls go bad for you, then you can always use some modifiers found during the run to shift stats a little more in your favor or clear away a bad mutation.

With the next big update most likely being release, I'm hoping this game will get a lot more attention. For now, I shall leave this review here and then go do a run or two because talking about this game makes me want to go play it more. Maybe I'll manage one of the new endings this time!
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