Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can change our life stories dramatically. That's not just true of real life, but literally so in indie developer Hiding Spot's upcoming lite adventure, Beacon Pines.
Players have two roles in this game. The first is as the omniscient reader of a magical storybook, able to add missing words to the tale in order to direct how it will play out. The other is as young Luka VanHorn, the protagonist of the very same book, who will live out the experiences detailed on its pages. Here in this world where "normal isn’t what it used to be," Luka and his friends are "the only ones taking notice." In order to get to the bottom of recent changes for the worse, you will need to "sneak out late, investigate creepy labs, throw some pigs, uncover the truth, and maybe survive the summer."
Described as "Winnie-the-Pooh meets Twin Peaks," Beacon Pines is set in a simple but lovely mountain town now that has fallen on hard times with the closure of its main factory, and is now beset by "earthquakes, strange lights in the night, folks going missing, creatures lurking in the shadows, glowing puddles, and strange men in hazmat suits who seem very interested in it all." Rather than focus on solving in-game puzzles, the projected 4-6 hours of gameplay will see players chatting with the local inhabitants and leisurely exploring the beautifully hand-painted environments in order "make new friends and enemies" and find new "word charms," which can then be used to insert into the story in order to "weave the fabric of fate itself." It's up to you to answer such questions as, "What will Luka say to insult a bully? What's the weather like? What the hell is that thing lurking in the bushes?" Fortunately, you have the freedom to change your mind or go back and revisit earlier decisions with new word charms. Indeed, "reshaping events is an important part of the game."
There is no firm release date for Beacon Pines just yet, but having been successfully crowdfunded earlier this year, the game may be arriving on PC as early as September. In the meantime, there's a demo to tide us over, available to download now on Steam and itch.io. You can also sign up for ongoing updates on the official website.