Adam has a dangerous job. He works for the CIA during the Cold War specializing in analyzing military code. His life, obviously, could be easily forfeit if ever he were to be discovered by enemy agents. However, Adam opts to take a chance on a new home embedded deep in the woodlands. He and his wife think they can have a few moments of peace there, away from the dangers of espionage and the hum of the city. But, like many of the best laid plans of mice and men, something goes terribly awry.
The Beast Inside attempts to bring together the elements of a thriller with a survival horror. The short demo currently available reveals little regarding actual plot, though plenty regarding atmosphere and gameplay. Adam locates a diary that thrusts him back into events that took place during the Civil War, scribed by a mysterious figure named Nicolas. Somehow, Nicolas and Adam are connected, though the demo does not reveal how. However, the look and feel of The Beast Inside already indicate a top-notch team is behind the game, who have embed the time spent within Adam’s world with gorgeous scenery, highly detailed objects, and a suitably anxiety-inducing atmosphere.
The game boasts a fully interactive environment, meaning any object that looks like you can pick it up and inspect it can be. While perhaps not a necessary element, it does add a nice touch to the already realistic-looking setting. You can also examine objects more closely for hidden messages and clues in order to solve puzzles.
There is only one true puzzle included in the demo, but it is far more difficult than your usual survival horror fare. Using a circular decoder and a paper with a hidden message, I constructed a five letter word that unlatched a box containing the hidden diary of Nicolas. In a genre where puzzles can too often amount to seek-and-finds (though, the demo boasts some of those as well), or simple rote memorization (remember this password you saw on a random note about thirty minutes ago), the decoder puzzle felt genuinely challenging. It speaks well of the ingenuity of the developers, as well as the higher expectations they will project upon the player. And this should come as no surprise given the high quality of the both the game’s design and controls.
The lighting effects alone are stunning and immersive, showcasing the sheen of fine metal tableware, highlighting the old wood and rusty pipes found in the cellar, and often serving to make the darkness outside it’s reach seem all the more forbidding. High resolution textures bring the house and the surrounding environs to life in stunning beauty and dreadful gloom. While there is a bit more of a dreamlike feel to The Beast Inside’s graphics than the now famous P.T., this game boasts a feeling of realism that makes you feel at home at first, and then adds to the nightmare you soon find yourself within.
The controls and menu systems are also well designed and simple to use. Adam walks using the standard WASD buttons and his point of view is controlled by the mouse. You can open a diary kept by Adam along the way which will summarize events, helping you stay on track. There is also a hint option just in case you get a bit lost on your journey, or find yourself confused by the puzzle you are working on. Items such as keys and crowbars used automatically when the corresponding lock or loose board is selected. You also have a small inventory that houses items you will reuse. In the demo, the list of reusable items was kept rather small, making inventory management a simple task. Perhaps last but not least, the demo showcased one of the most realistic lock-picking mechanics I have seen in a game. I am not certain how often this will come into play, but it was surprisingly enjoyable.
While the demo served only as a sparse introduction to the plot, it operated as a convincing evidence of just how frightening we can expect The Beast Inside to be. Jump-scares might be a dime a dozen, but these were well-placed and unexpected. More so than that, however, was the menacing atmosphere and bone-chilling sound design. The game also makes excellent use of building tension. Who is that man outside pointing toward the shed? Is that even a human? You know something is coming long before it does, and The Beast Inside teases out this feeling well. It is my hope that the full game will do more of this type of horror than the jump-scares, but for this we shall have to wait and see.
The Beast Inside is scheduled for release in Q1 2019. To learn more about it, visit the Steam page.