Have you ever played a game where a detailed gameplay loop is introduced but the game almost goes out of its way to not dig deeply into it? You play a game, think there’s going to be some big revelations to happen and then suddenly… its just over. Beasties is a match 3 RPG game that puts you into battle with monsters you collect. It’s like Puzzle Quest meets Nexomon or Pokémon.
It’s also unfortunately, in a rush to get you to the end of the game.
Beasties is quite clear on its Steam page. There isn’t going to be hundreds of monsters, long detailed story, monster breeding or transformations. What you can do is play as a character who wanders around the outskirts of a village, going into battle with his Beasties. You can have up to 4 Beasties in your party and each Beastie has a skill. Skills are triggered by matching a cumulative colour of gem during a match. Skills can be aggressive and damage or debuff the enemy team or buffs or health replenishments for your own team. Matching black gems will also unleash a standard physical attack from the Beastie at the top of the screen.
Whilst there are only a few Beasties to choose from, the match 3 system (horizontal and vertical only – not diagonally) works really well. Each Beasties skill feels worthwhile and no monster is throwaway addition. It is a shame that the overall difficulty is quite low though as often you don’t get to flex all your Beasties powers. Battles generate dust that can be formed into upgrade tiles for your Beasties. You do this in your large but very empty village. Levelling up your Beastie allows you to choose to level up either health, attack, defence or skill stats. It’s a nice nuance as I did buff the attack and health of my top Beastie because its the one dealing the physical attacks and getting pummelled first. Each Beastie also has a shield which when destroyed, leaves them open for catching in a RNG decision. In the village is also a shop for buying food to replenish health, although you cannot do this in battle, and a tool restorer as you often have to mine stone and chop wood to get some resources for map progression and selling for coins.
This all sounds great and it is. Beasties does so little with it though. The game is set up foundationally for an excellent, in depth game. I completed the game in 2.5 hours. No Beasties were upgraded beyond level 18, I used the currency and shop about three times all game. I barely switched out my Beasties as I felt constantly overpowered, The map outside the village to slowly hop around is the only map and the random encounters on the long grass areas is crazy. Every second step is a new battle and that doesn’t help you feel engaged as you end up steamrolling through enemies after the first hour. The story is also non-existent.
Its a terrible shame as Beasties has such a decent foundation. The match 3 element works superbly but there’s nothing to support it and then the game just fizzles out with a whimper. Its a case of what if. If a decent story and a double Beastie count was included, filling the game out with meaning and a proper goal – giving strategy options a plenty. All the ingredients were here for it but instead, this feels misplaced and confusingly lightweight.
Review copy provided by developer.
So much potential (and there is some fun to be had here) is wasted on a narrow delivery.
The match 3 gameplay works excellently.
Bold, crisp visuals make everything brighter and beautiful.
Way too short with a very thin story.
Only one map to explore.
Not enough Beasties to make big strategy calls and alternative parties worthwhile.
Entire currency and tool systems that are not explored at all.
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