I really love Creature RPGs. I guess it’s mostly because I love collecting; completing a list of items is something I’ll always love to do; it’s just so damn satisfying!
Knowing this, I should also say I love Pokémon, the largest and most successful Creature RPG saga you’ll find out there (Get wrecked, Digimon!). But there’s something I have to admit; Pokémon games are getting boring!
The last two generations have been about as boring as watching paint dry; there’s no challenge, the characters are cookie-cutter, and the latest Pokémon we have had doesn’t have the quintessential Pokémon feel that made the franchise so appealing in the first place.
It seemed for all the world that the creature RPG format was slowly dying a death. Then, out of nowhere, Cassette Beasts appeared like a monster in the tall grass. It was like a love-at-first-sight moment, and it was enough for me to say: “This is a game for me.”
I’ve taken the time to play it to completion, and I’ll say this upfront. It’s good enough to be remembered as one of the best games of this year. However, is this game good enough to revive the stale creature RPG format on its own?
Well, you’ll need to stick around to find out. This is Indie Game Culture’s Cassette Beasts Review, conducted on PC.
Falling Into a New Dimension
Undoubtedly, what I love the most about Cassette Beasts is its story. Let me pepper in some exposition to give you a feel for what’s on offer. The first scene of the game is you, waking up on a beautiful beach in the middle of nowhere.
Unless you had a hard rave party the previous day, that’s a weird place to wake up. After exploring for a while, you find a girl who welcomes you to New Wirral, a world full of dangerous Beasts, land keeper vampires, and mysterious Archangels. Oh, by the way, this world is in another dimension, pretty far from yours.
You are not alone here, as like you, many people fell into this dimension out of nowhere and without any reason and made it their temporal home while looking for a way out. These people will stick with you during your adventure and are more important than you might think.
All of the supporter characters you meet during your adventures in New Wirral are the driving force of the story. Without these lads and lasses, the game wouldn’t advance.
Every character, like Kayleigh, Meredith, Eugene, or Viola, takes us on a different adventure, where we learn much more about them and their motivations. At the same time, we continue discovering and unraveling the mysteries about Aleph and the Archangels.
Every character we know leaves us with a new story and some great life lessons, and every character is way deeper than a throwaway NPC interaction. I really like those moments when you are alone with Kayleigh or Meredith, and they tell you about their past lives.
It’s intimate, and it made me feel truly attached to these characters; and yes, I hated that guilty feeling of leaving Kayleigh in the Gramophone Café while I was adventuring. Sorry, girl!
Plus, the not-so-relevant characters, like the Captains, still play an important role.
They are always there, interacting with other characters, giving us a glimpse of their past lives and pushing forward the main message of this story: Life constantly changes, and no one is ready to confront these changes; it’s all about what we learn during these new phases of life what defines us as valuable persons for the world.
Wherever We are Now
The music and the ambiance Cassette Beasts create with it is excellent and well-executed. It is constantly changing depending on the zone you are in, filling the playlist with a lot of different jams that are very enjoyable.
Let’s use Harbourtown as an example. Harbourtown is your new home, and here, you’ll listen to a pretty chill-out and relaxing beat, with a main melody played by electric pianos and organs that aim to make you feel cozy and familiar with the place you’ll spend a lot of time in.
In other zones, like the abandoned New London or the train stations, the music limits itself to a simple note followed by a seemingly endless silence, intending to make you feel you are in a cold, inhabited, and dangerous area.
In these kinds of scenarios, where everything is empty, less is better, and I love the usage of silence on these tracks. It’s on point!
And lastly, we have some special moments in the game that have songs with lyrics. I must admit I wasn’t a fan of these songs as I felt they didn’t fit the soundtrack’s inherent style, but then, I realized that they had a purpose: further cementing the theme, ‘You are not alone in this dangerous world.’
There are only two moments when you can hear someone singing; whenever you enter a house in Harbourtown and every time you fuse with your partner. These are two moments when you are very close to someone and share an objective with that someone: survive in New Wirral.
This message gets reinforced as soon as you pay close attention to the lyrics: “We’re all in the same ship, Floating somewhere without any aim, But at least we’re together.” It’s a simple song with a message about as deep as a puddle after a light drizzle, but that’s ok; it’s such a wonderful song; I even added it to my Spotify playlist!
In short, the composition of the songs is subtle, yet brilliant, and, in my opinion, it’s just what the game needed; all our focus should be on the Beasts and the world we are exploring.
A TV-Headed Cat, a Traffic Cone Crab, and a Ghost Ram
Woah, what can I say about the graphics of Cassette Beasts? It’s a pretty game!
In Cassette Beasts, the humans and beasts are 2D sprites, while the map and its different elements are beautiful and well-done 3D models.
This 2D-3D interaction, the artistic design of the 3D elements, and the usage of plenty of effects, like a slight blur on far elements and realistic physics on the movable objects, makes me feel like I was playing with cardboard pieces on a tabletop game. That was my first impression, and I can’t stop looking at it like that!
Regarding the character design, Cassette Beasts deserves a round of applause. The beasts are curious creatures; some draw inspiration from elements we can find in our day-to-day routine, like traffic cones, toys, furnaces, and TVs, while others resemble scientific concepts, like magnetism, microscopic life, and much more.
If you think about the interdimensional travel-like concept of this game, these designs make a lot of sense. New Wirral is just an interdimensional dumpster where forgotten things (and people) fall.
It’s not crazy to think that the beasts of the place were evolving while using these forgotten objects as weapons or shields. That’s why we have beasts like Traffikrab, Cat-5, or Bulletino! It’s absolutely great!
Plastic-types and Electromagnetism
I split Cassette Beasts’ gameplay into two sections. We have the overworld gameplay and the battle gameplay.
If we talk about the overworld gameplay, I think it’s pretty good. Exploring New Wirral is pretty fun; you won’t get tired of finding hiding places, caches, and secrets. The puzzles are well-designed and easy to understand, and the map has a lot of variety.
Nonetheless, I feel like the overworld gameplay has two problems; the first one is that the game doesn’t let you change the controls.
I played it on PC with my keyboard (Classic gamer moment), and all the preset buttons to control movement, jumping, dashing, and interacting are only on one side of the keyboard, which makes the game uncomfortable to play, and not letting me change the key bindings was a big letdown.
The second problem I found was the performance of the game. Whenever I’m in the overworld, the game tends to lag for a while every time I enter a new zone, and the game even crashed a couple of times.
Now if you focus on the battle gameplay, you can clearly see the inspiration taken from Pokémon, but here’s the thing; Cassette Beasts feels fresh.
I mean, it doesn’t introduce concepts we have never seen in any other Creature RPG, but it takes some interesting concepts from other games and merges them together, creating such an enjoyable, refined, and challenging battle system.
The main and most interesting feature of the battle system is that you’ll need to use AP to execute moves. Some attacks will cost one, two, or even three AP, while the most powerful ones will cost more.
This forces you to do some AP management while being attentive to your opponent’s next move, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to the game that I really love. This is a great example of how to introduce a concept into a system without making it unfair or unbalanced. Take notes, Pokémon; these guys know the drill!
The beasts’ types also interact with each other. For example, using a Fire-type move against a Water-type will create a healing mist that will protect the Water-type beast. But if you use that Fire move against a Plastic-type, you’ll melt it, converting it into a Poison-type. Chemistry at its finest!
I love the affinity all the beast types have. It gives you the feeling that this is happening in real life but in another dimension. That’s cool! But, on the other hand, it’s hard to keep track of all of these interactions; it’ll take you a while before you start to comprehend the weaknesses and resistances of the beasts!
Cassette Beasts is a fun adventure with heart-warming characters you can easily fall in love with, cool and creative beasts, top-tier music design, and a challenging battle system.
It’s not a perfect game, as it has a lot of flaws when it comes to the overworld gameplay and the game’s performance, but regardless, it’s one you should take the time to play for yourself.
Pros and Cons
- A heart-warming story
- Interesting, well-written, and relatable characters
- Gameplay offers a fresh new take on Pokemon’s tired formula
- A phenomenal musical assortment
- The Overworld gameplay is not the best
- It’s hard to get a grasp of the battle mechanics
- The loading times are pretty long, and the game is a bit prone to crashing
Alternative Games with Cool Beasts
If you enjoyed Cassette Beasts as much as I did, you might want to give it a try to these games:
- The whole Siralim saga
- Any Older Pokémon Game (Gen 1 to 5).
- Digimon World: Next Order
- Monster Hunter Stories
Jesús spent 12 hours playing Cassette Beasts. He’s about to finish the game because he loves having long gaming sessions, and after getting to the end, he’ll try to get all the achievements, that’s for sure.
Cassette Beasts Review: FAQs
Question: How Long does it Take to beat Cassette Beasts?
Answer: I’ll say a solid 15-20 hours. There’s a lot to discover. But if you want to take on extra challenges and go for all the sidequests and achievements, you can’t expect less than 60 hours.
Question: Is Cassette Beasts a Hard Game?
Answer: No, I don’t think so. It’s hard to understand it on your first matches, but the game does it perfectly to explain its mechanics to you.
Question: Which is better to Play Cassette Beasts, Keyboard or Controller?
Answer: Controller, by far. The game doesn’t support Keyboard customization, which is very annoying, so playing it with a controller is the best option.