[Review] Beast Quest – Nintendo Switch

Written by Stephen Hunter
  • Developer: Torus Games
  • Publisher: Maximum Games
  • Release Date: 15/11/2019
  • Price: £29.99 / $29.99
  • Review Code Provided By Dead Good

All Generic Fantasy Genre Tropes? Check!

In Beast Quest you will play a ‘kid’ named Tom, who when searching a clearing on the outskirts of his home town, just so happens to stumble upon a large key within a knights’ gauntlet, lying on the ground.

As tom picks up this key, the good wizard Aduro appears from a bright flash, and almost immediately slaps a passing bird by mistake. This sounds much more humorous than the games dry execution. Then after a very brief introduction, Aduro tells Tom that he is the unlikely hero as is told in ancient scrolls, the dark wizard malvel has cursed the four secret beasts that protect the land, and now only tom and his new big shiny key can unlock the cursed collars around the beast’s necks, stopping the
evil wizard, and returning peace to the land. See, it’s ticked all the fantasy tropes we’ve become accustomed to.

So, Tom vows to risk his life and take on the beast quest, the good wizard Aduro casts some magic upon your wooden sword and shield, turning them into a real sword and shield, and your quest is ready to begin.

The Road To Adventure

Beast Quest can be summed up very quickly; you walk along a linear path crossing town and reskinned field areas, defeat enemies in your way. Defeat one of the four cursed beasts, then rinse and repeat until all four beasts have been defeated. This is the entire game in a nutshell. And if that stellar gameplay didn’t grip you, then I’m sorry to inform you there’s very little enjoyment to be found from progressing the story either.

The game essentially offers two forms of gameplay; basic exploration, and combat. As I said above, you walk along a linear path, but the areas you come across can be explored, but there isn’t much there to do. The game features a mini-map, and it is almost useless, but looking at it does at least show you points of ‘interest’. You will see different coloured chests (bronze, iron, and gold), and different coloured keys that correspond to those chests. These chests almost always have the same loot within them. Bronze has 20 coins, iron has 50 coins, and gold has 500 coins, but if you’re lucky these chests may also hold an item, that give a small bonus to the player. For example, I found some thief gloves that increased my attack speed by 5%. Aside from the chests, there are small yellow diamonds that indicate side quests. Side quests are only given out by NPCs that are marked on the mini-map, or bulletin boards, and they unfortunately only come in two forms; Fetch quests, and ‘collect a certain number and type of enemy loot’ quests. Fetch quests require pressing ‘A’ on certain things, then returning to the NPC. The other quests require fighting the same enemy so many times and then returning to the NPC. So, you’re still stuck with basic exploration or combat. Get used to it.

The story itself is as generic as you might expect from the premise, offering nothing new or interesting. It almost comes across deliberate with how by the book it is, and the ending is even more anticlimatic than I was prepared for. Defeat the beasts, save the kingdom is pretty much all the story you’re going to get.

Saving Grace?

All is not completely lost however, as the combat in this game is pretty interesting. It features a combat mechanic I haven’t seen very often and applies its own take on it. You can do four things in battle; attack (light, heavy, and charged), dodge, block or move to the left or right which changes the angle of the battle. Each enemy has its own animations/prompts for attacking, and learning these animations can be key. If you pull off a perfectly timed dodge it goes into slow motion and you can apply a counter-attack for big damage, these moments can be satisfying. As you progress you will also unlock special attacks called ally abilities. They are pretty powerful and damage all enemies, so useful when you’re in a tough fight, but it does require you to fill a meter through succeeding in
attacks and dodges.

Combat ultimately comes in three variants; singular enemies, a trio of enemies, or one of the four beasts. Singular enemies rarely offer the ability to move around, so you’re stuck in a one on one, relying on attacking, dodging, or blocking the odd attack that can’t be dodged. The trio of enemies are a little more interesting as they’re set up in a sort of upside-down triangle formation, and they can all attack you. This is where the moving ability is needed. The best way I can describe it is to imagine each enemy has its own lane, and you can change which lane you want to be in, deciding which enemy you want to attack. But remember all enemies can attack, so you will need to be dishing out bits of damage to one enemy, and then moving around to another one to avoid being attacked yourself when on the offensive, or caught from the backlines by a ranged type enemy. The beasts are definitely the highlight of the game. They offer variety in the combat and some challenges as they’re quicker, slightly more unpredictable, and hit harder. Without giving too many spoilers away, one beast has a fire breath attack, that can’t be dodged or blocked. But in this particular fight you have five lanes to move around, and the two furthest lanes, offer you cover to avoid this attack, a small variant that was much appreciated. Another beast had an entire section of moving in and out of cover to avoid projectiles, and to slowly work your way towards her before you could actually engage her in battle. Again, a welcome variant.

As much as I’ve praised this aspect of the game though, it does have some big issues that ruin the experience. Firstly, the animations of these enemies, for the most part, are terribly stiff and clunky. As are the animations for Tom. Some enemies you can tell clearly what they are about to do, and how to counteract them. Others seem almost random, or delayed which makes for an infuriating fight. This is usually noticeable in the battles with three enemies. As I said, all enemies can attack you at once, which means they can move around between the lanes towards you, but there are a lot
of times where you believe an enemy is simply moving, when suddenly it will leap for an attack without warning, and it’s down to the games poor performance, rather than the players lack of skill.

Then there’s the issue with tom. You will find often that he seems to have a slight delay from getting out of an attack animation, into a dodge or block animation, leading to enemies getting a lot of cheap shots in. I also found a lot of the time that after I’d dodged an attack, and tried to counter-attack, tom would start trying to do a charged attack instead of a regular attack. This particular animation takes a while to start and leaves you wide open for enemies. Very frustrating.

Insult To Injury

On top of everything already said, the game lacks quality throughout. The voice acting in cutscenes is very poor and isn’t helped at all by a very poor script. The overall performance of the game isn’t great, you will see a lot of textures clipping in and out, along with some frame rate drops, which is disappointing given that this game is hardly pushing the switch’s hardware. The soundtrack is generic and forgettable, as are the sound effects. Then we have very noticeable input delay which was noticeable right from the get-go, to the point it actually made me question my knowledge of the joy-cons’ button layout. And I can’t stress enough how awful the jumping physics are in this game. It’s both stiff, and floaty. Teamed up with the input delay this game has, it’s easily the worst jump I’ve had the displeasure of using in a modern game.

Final Thoughts

Beast Quest ultimately falls flat. It feels lazily put together throughout, and I find it difficult to recommend to anybody. It looks awful, it plays awful, it sounds awful. The £29.99 price point feels insulting for how little game you get for your money, with its lack of gameplay variety, poor performance, and it’s 5/6 hours playtime. If you’re intrigued by the unique combat, wait for a very good sale on this game to check it out.

Pros

  • Unique combat system

Cons

  • Poor performance
  • Little variety in gameplay
  • Short play time
  • High price point

Verdict

A very poor game from start to finish, but does offer a unique take on combat.

1.5/5

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