In an alien world, a Beacon of aesthetic quality.
Every now and then a game comes along that can so completely sell you with its aesthetic, that even if its gameplay was only mediocre, it would be worthy of your time, just for the experience of immersing yourself in that world. Mirror’s Edge was a visual treat let down by its frustrating traversal and out of place storytelling, Transistor fared better and was visually (and audibly) lush, but was a fairly superficial game. Can Beacon, Monothetic’s rogue-like sci-fi shooter succeed where other visually fantastic games have failed and also deliver a gameplay experience on par with the stellar stylistic language?
Beacon is a Sci-Fi Action Roguelike in which you take control of Freja, a recently-deceased pilot-for-hire whose ship has just crashed into the side of an unknown planet. Luckily for Freja, thanks to her ship’s automated clone bay, being dead isn’t the pain in the ass it once was.
Played as a top-down shooter, Beacon tasks you with fighting your way through a randomly generated hostile world, all the while trying to find the materials required to build a distress beacon and escape the planet into which your ship has crashed.
While you’re making your way through these areas you’ll not only find weapons and items to help you; You’ll also be collecting DNA from the enemies you defeat. Then, when you inevitably die, you’re given the opportunity to combine the DNA you’ve collected with your own, granting you different stats and potentially gameplay-altering physical mutations for your next run.
The small team – currently just 9 – at Monothetic have produced something with a style akin to a low-poly, part-organic TRON, and the Japanese influence in the artwork and attention to detail make for an engaging world, at least, and the DNA mutations gained as you repeatedly die sound like something that will make for new experiences on each play though, hopefully disguising the repetition inherent in this type of game.
The work-in-progress soundtrack is also worth mentioning, as one pillar of the trifecta holding the piece together – the dark, broody synth adding some great atmosphere to the alien world you find yourself on. It’s available to listen to right now, and doubles as great background music to work along to.
If you’re a fan of rogue-likes, sci-fi, and twin stick shooters, Beacon should definitely be one to watch out for – available on PC/Mac and Xbox One at some point in the future.