by Bryson Hile
previewed on PC
THE BEAST INSIDE
Illusion Ray Studioís The Beast Inside is a survival horror game with puzzle elements sprinkled in. The game takes place during two time periods: the Cold War and the American Civil War, both of which are tethered together by a house and a journal. Adam, a crypt-analyst who is in hiding while he works on military code, is the first character I was introduced to. He and his wife, Emma, move to a seemingly peaceful country house until Adam finds a journal hidden in the attic. The journal, written by Nicolas, the other character I played as, holds dark secrets from the Civil War. This journal and the house it was stored in set the stage for a descent into a dark and haunting past.
WHEN THINGS GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Once I found the journal as Adam, the game transitioned into Nicholasí voice. The only issue I felt it had was the lengthy loading screen between the scenes. If these two characters could have been transitioned seamlessly, I would have felt more in the moment. But once I was playing as Nicolas, things began to get hellish.
Nicolasí story starts out in the middle of the night with a few candles lit around the house. These pools of light were the only few things that made me feel safe in the dark house. The wood floor would creak as I went up the stairs or the windows would blow open from the wind. These environmental factors felt natural, immersing me in the game more.
Some of these sound cues led me to my next objective, which helped to push the story forward. The objectives that were given pulled me out of my comfort zone, allowing the game to toy with my emotions, making me anxious and afraid. Exploring the semi-open world is also fun as the house has many areas to discover along with the surrounding land, though I was hesitant as strange figures, doors banging closed, and trails of blood began to terrorize me. As the jump scares were limited and spread apart, I was unable to predict them, which meant they scared the hell out of me.
AN INTERACTIVE ENVIRONMENT
On top of its terrifying environment, The Beast Inside prides itself in letting the player interact with everything. Starting out as Adam, I was tasked with mundane objectives such as bringing in moving boxes. Being tasked with carrying boxes isnít something I would call amazing, but the fact that I could touch, examine and move everything in the world was. This kind of interaction served to be beneficial when I became Nicolas.
As Nicolas, I could shut doors behind me, light candles with a match or move furniture in front of a door. Interacting with the environment gave me a sense of security that horror games in recent memory have fallen short on. Along with the vast interactivity with the environment, the game also provides a few puzzles sprinkled within the nightmares. Both puzzles I solved were very simple yet enjoyable, but I would have expected more puzzles from a game whose main character is a crypt-analyst. Overall however, the puzzles were nice breaks from the horror elements of the game.
The Beast Inside is one of the scariest games I have played in some time. Overall, the environment evoked horror while also embedding security with it. The ability to touch, move or examine every possible item in the game proved to be fun, even if sometimes it was just moving boxes. Finally, the way the two playable characters are connected is almost seamless, yet still needs some work, but removing the loading time would help connect the two characters and story together in a smoother fashion.