by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Oh Boy, Here We Go
Well guys, it's happened again. In the field of gaming reviews, we review diamonds, and we review coal. Every now and then, we even review complete crap. And then there are instances like this where... I'm not sure what I'm reviewing. Where I've been left so confused by the makeup of the game that I'm not sure if it's clever ideas failing to come together, or just a shallow cashgrab.
I know that sounds pretty harsh, but it's as honest as it comes. I'm not sure what exactly is going on with Beastiarium, but I know that I don't like it. I know that it's a game that at first glance shows a lot of promise. Screenshots show an ominous looking series of set pieces, gameplay footage carefully arranged to lure in potential customers and even the first five minutes in game itself had me thinking it was going to be something special. But, you know the old saying...
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Make no mistake, for the most part Beastiarium is a fairly good looking game. It's nothing that will blow you away, but it certainly has excellent use of lighting and some of the creatures are genuinely well designed. In the opening few minutes, players are set in a dark forest on a mysterious coastline. No matter which way they go, they're met with a golden, transparent barrier. Then, a voice. A curious creature rises forth from the ground itself, a shadowy liquid wearing a red and white mask. A friendly 'face' as it explains to the player how Earth has been overtaken by creatures flooding in from various different realities. Some good, some evil, some just inquisitive in nature. From this intro, both the plot and the game quickly fall apart.
Each chapter lasts only a matter of minutes, and what attempt at story is conveyed is quickly lost in the blur. Set piece to set piece, it feels more like you're playing little bits of separate games rather than a single cohesive product. A great example can be found very early on: After the introduction, you're in a hotel. Your interaction with two characters in this area are entirely through two closed doors. The good voice acting of the first creature you encountered is suddenly replaced by some very poor voice work, and not even faces to put the voices to. After being given some very quick, menial tasks and luring a cute creature that looks like a wobbling bush into a trap, you're thrust into a sewer network that suddenly becomes engrossed with obnoxiously loud (but catchy) heavy metal, and the slowest bunch of crawling creatures ever. Each chapter transition is this abrupt and does little to tie any of the plot together. Throw onto that the fact that all of the chapters of the game can be beat in less than an hour. What puzzles there are come across far too simple to prolong the game length either.
It's quick, it plays smoothly enough, but it's as though watching the notes of a gamer's idea of neat ideas suddenly thrown together and asking "Is this what makes a game great?" It is not. Not if it is less than the sum of its parts. With a $14.99 price tag, and such little return on investment in fun, Beastiarium just isn't great. I see some ideas in here that - on their own - could make a pretty interesting game, and probably even a fun game. But for Beastiarium, it's dead shortly after take off and the remaining playthrough is just dragging the corpse, broken, beaten and scarred until it's over.
Interesting first few minutes, visually appealing, it actually works
Plot is all over the place, less than an hour long