Early Access tactical RPG Beast is a pleasant surprise from the latter half of 2023, arriving on October 23 and continuing to amass a bit of a cult following as it readies itself for a 1.0 launch in 2024. Mixing traditional turn-based tactical gameplay not too dissimilar from Firaxis’ modern XCOM games with the party management and insanity effects of the brutal roguelike RPG Darkest Dungeon, Beast sees its disparate influences come together to form something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s very clear how much the game and its developers love all things horror, to top it all off.
Game Rant’s recent conversation with Beast writer Michał Mochocki sheds some light on the different horror influences at play in the game. Everything from real-world historical occurrences and classic gothic literature to farcical horror-comedies factor into the game’s wide-ranging horror influences, combining to make a wholly unique game that has one foot planted in reality and the other firmly planted in the supernatural. Both the gameplay and the narrative of Beast fully embrace its horror leanings, providing players with one of the more brutally violent and bleak tactical RPGs available.
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How False Prophet’s Beast Mixes Real-World Horror With Classic Horror Tropes
The narrative at the core of Beast is a dark alternate-history tale set in a fictional Eastern European kingdom during the Middle Ages, and this kind of bleak setting is the perfect backdrop for its historically charged horror elements. Taking control of protagonist Anton, players begin Beast by escaping a prison convoy that falls under attack by bandits, using the confusion and chaos to escape and earn freedom for the first time in many years. From here, Anton essentially sets out on a one-man mission of revenge, all while contending with the demonic presence that seems to be inhabiting his body and helping him along the way.
Playing through Beast and experiencing its visceral and gory combat also helps illustrate how the game leans into its more traditional and fantastic horror influences, but it’s the combination of the supernatural with the historical that interests Beast developer False Prophet. Despite the game’s fictional setting, Mochocki notes that the team uses real-life monsters of the region to help influence the type of villains Anton must contend with.
We play a lot with the good old Gothic pseudo-medievalism. Our invented self-proclaimed Kingdom of Carpathian Ruthenia lies in Transylvania, which naturally leads our twisted imagination to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Our coachman, Igor, takes a lot after Igor from the 1974 movie “Young Frankenstein.” But the best historical horror stories come from historiography and legends about actual characters, like Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory.
Both Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory are two real-life historical figures responsible for the pop-culture mythology surrounding vampires, and Beast uses reality-based horror alongside supernatural and gothic elements to help make the game’s narrative one that blurs the lines between historical account and fictional tale. Though the game’s setting is an imaginary kingdom, it takes influence from developer False Prophet’s native Poland and the surrounding regions to help bring some grounding to its proceedings as well.
We have the Kingdom of Liakhya: a stand-in for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Most of the game happens on the road to Liakhya from a fictitious micro-kingdom on the other side of the Carpathian mountains. It won’t be easy for foreign players to identify the Polish connection. If they do, they’ll find a lot of historical details, places, events and characters from 16th-century Poland, Transylvania, Ukraine, Lithuania and more.
Like many other games, including CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher titles, Beast incorporates the developer’s familiarity with local culture and history alongside more fantastic and imaginary elements to create something that pays homage to influences both real and fabricated.
Beast is available now in Early Access on PC.
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