The Beast Inside is a psychological-thriller horror game developed by the good folks over at Illusion Ray Studio and published by Movie Games. We were given access to the playable demo version of the title, and the final release date for the full game is slated for Q1 2019. The game centers around the main character Adam, a CIA cryptanalyst who is leaving the city to live with his wife Emma in their new house, but not all is how it seems. Horror soon turns to reality as entities from their property's bloody past start to haunt them relentlessly.
The Beast Inside Demo can be purchased by supporting their Kickstarter for about $7.00.
The Beast Inside Demo begins in media res by introducing the main character Adam and his wife Emma. Emma has been captured by an unknown figure, tied to a chair and separated from her husband. Fear takes over her as she screams for Adam, but no response comes. The mysterious figure moves in on her threateningly, but the scene quickly shifts to a sunny evening as Adam and Emma are driving to their new home. We find out later that Adam is a CIA cryptanalyst during the Cold War, and has moved with his wife to the countryside out of fear that their CIA handlers can't keep them safe. Adam decides that the country will help him clear his mind as he works on cracking soviet code.
The couple stop at the entry to their new townhouse and start unpacking their belongings. Adam starts placing boxes in the attic but notices a peculiar loose board underneath the packages. He find a crowbar and busts open the floorboard, exposing a shoebox of sorts with some very interesting items inside. The contents include a diary, belonging to an unknown Nicolas, a weathered paper with a scribbling "J.=C." on the back corner, a locked box with a five letter code, and a crypto-key of some sorts in the shape of a circular disc with interchanging sections. This is what I instantly loved about the game, it presents challenges in the form of discovery and rewards the player for exploration. It took a mere fifteen minutes before I was able to successfully unlock the box and discovered the contents. I will not spoil what was inside nor how to complete the puzzle, but the scene then shifted to a flashback where you are now in control of who we assume is Nicolas.
Nicolas has arrived at the house with his belongings stuffed in small suitcases, much like the main protagonist Adam and his wife had. This scene takes place in the middle of the night as Nicolas starts to search for light. The player soon finds matches and an old style oil lantern. As Nicolas begins lighting the house you will notice creepy and thrilling sounds starting to come from around the house. The player investigates and notices a strange figure peering out at Nicolas from next to an exterior water-well. Nicolas at this point becomes quick-breathed, heart pulsing and confused at who this mysterious figure in the top hat is. He quickly exits and goes near the well, but the man is gone. Further confusion and fear starts to creep into the player at this point. I immediately got chills when I saw that the man had left, but I wanted answers. Nicolas, under the player's control, begins to explore the exterior of the house under the cover of moonlight and comes to a shed. After finding a few items in the shed he decides to return to the house.
This is when the story really begins to shift to a psychological horror. Footsteps and crying can be heard throughout the house as Nicolas frantically searches the home for answers to who this man was. The player finds several trails of blood and confronts multiple white, horrific looking figures throughout the remainder of the small story demo. I will not spoil how the demo concludes here or what happens after this point, but this small approximately thirty to forty minute presentation truly left me wanting more! The story thus far is believable, creepy, and all around exceptional. Arguably, one of the of the hardest things to accomplish in psychological horror games is making the player feel like they truly are in the midst of danger while simultaneously giving them incentive to push forward. Trust me when I say that The Beast Inside's Demo accomplishes both of these, and with flying colors. Not only was I engrossed in the story of Adam and intrigued by the puzzles laid out before him, but I felt deep fear and rushed anxiety during several of the Nicolas scenes. Kudos to the story-writing and execution.
The gameplay is simplistic but very, very polished. I also don't mean simplistic in a bad way, for the controls are intuitive and melt away so the player can experience the story without having to struggle with poorly designed controls. This is something I will keep going back to in this preview of the game's demo: the game feels exceptionally well-designed and engineered. You take control of Adam and Nicolas in a third person perspective, collecting and inspection several items throughout the home and its exterior. Every item you can inspect can also be rotated around with the right mouse click, letting the player explore to their heart's content. Jump-scares are aplenty, but I never felt like they were intrusive. Most of the gameplay is Adam and Nicolas exploring the home, and this is where the game excels. The atmosphere is creepy and calm at the right points of exposition. Adam's and Nicolas' experiences are stark contrasts and make for very interesting gameplay that never feels boring or repetitive. Even simple tasks such as having to maintain the oil level of a lamp feels well-designed and gives incentive to the player to explore every nook and cranny of this rustic home. The gameplay consists mainly of moving around the main characters and exploring the deep dark recesses of the home. The gameplay feels fluid and perfect for a title such as this.
Graphics and Audio
The graphical fidelity of The Beast Inside is surprisingly stunning and makes the player feel as if they're actually a CIA agent trying to discover the secrets behind his new home. I played the game on ultra quality at 1080p, and the experience was stellar. Frame-rates stayed consistently high and never dipped even when transitioning between scenes. Texture quality is very high and, except for very few places, everything ran smoothly and graphical oddities were nearly nonexistent. One small mishap happened to me when moving a box, as the box suddenly started wiggling profusely. But this one incident didn't ruin any of the experience, as the rest of the scenes are gorgeously designed and lighting effects are top notch. Antialiasing is done well in all areas, but the absence of ambient occlusion, or weak implementation of it, in some scenes was apparent. This never made the game look bland, but was one nitpick I had to call out. Aside from that, everything from the small porcelain figures strewn throughout the home to the wind blowing in the trees makes the experience chillingly beautiful. Audio cues are done properly and with precision, leaving silence in certain areas to present a tone of mystery and fear. The creaking of floorboards and the whimpering of mysterious figures in the dark will leave the player with their heart's beating fast and hands sweaty with fearful anticipation. Several times throughout the game I began to feel chills down my spine due to the excellently designed stages and music that made me wonder if there was death around every corner. The addition of creepy props such as bloodstains and wood planks scattered across the home makes the player feel both fear and interest. The voice acting leave something to be desired, as the emotion in Emma's voice was somewhat flat.
There is nothing more than I can say about this small demo of The Beast Inside except for it is beautifully horrific and compelling. Everything from the backstory to the music cues to the gentle sway of the trees leaves the player engrossed and whets their appetite for more. Small annoyances like poor voice acting in some sections and a few graphical oddities are hardly noticeable when playing and will not disrupt the player's experience. If the final game is like this, then it is going to be one wild ride!