Now, this is a title that I’ve been waiting very patiently for. From developer, Noisy Head Games and publisher Yogscast Games comes Beyond the Long Night. I did a preview of Beyond the Long Night last year and have really been looking forwards to getting my hands on the full game since.
“Explore a whimsical underground world whilst being chased by a mysterious corrupting force in this charming twin-stick action roguelike! Befriend loveable characters, fend off enemies with chaotic abilities, and uncover the secrets of this subterranean kingdom caught in a time loop.”
Right then. The first thing that I want to cover is the visuals. As you can see from the trailer and screenshots here, you are dealing with a very stylised pixel art aesthetic. It all looks very ‘simple’, but there are some really nice little details that help to bring environments to life. The way that hanging lanterns swing, lighting and particle effects, etc. Beyond the Long Night is amazingly atmospheric and oozes mood. The sound and music are also really impressive.
Right then, on to how Beyond the Long Night plays and works. This is a twin-stick shooter with rouge-lite elements. The basic goal is for you to take your balloon-floating adventurer from the depths of a gloomy and cavernous Dark Mountain to the Overworld and escape. Really, all you need to do is head up. Of course, it’s not as easy as all that. The dark dungeon that you find yourself in is split into individual rooms. These rooms are often filled with numerous enemies, traps, pitfalls and puzzles.
Along the way, you will cross paths with a horde of various enemies, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and attacks. You’ll really need to learn how these fellas move and attack if you want to stay alive. Walls can and will be lined with spikes, embedded traps in walls will shoot at you and more. Make no mistake, Beyond the Long Night is a tough little game. Then, you also have to take into account the rising mysterious deadly force that slowly begins to engulf the rooms one by one. Go into a room that has been overrun by the deadly red mist and you’ll take damage. This is an interesting mechanic that keeps pushing you upwards and forward to your main goal.
It’s not all about killing monsters though as you’ll also meet a rather large cast of NPCs, each with their own little stories for you to uncover. Kill monsters and earn in-game currency. Spend that currency on upgrades or donations for some of the NPCs to open up more of what they can offer and reveal more of their stories. As an example, you may discover a cow farmer and he’ll ask you for 1000 gems. Pay up and you’ll have access to his ‘mootivational’ talking cows and more.
As this is a rouge-lite title, you die and restart… a lot. The more NPCs that you find and help, the more you learn and the more the game opens up. Die, start a new run and you’ll get that bit further every time. As is the standard with rouge-lite games, procedurally generated rooms will keep you on your toes and you’ll never know exactly what to expect. There are a ton of (randomly generated) upgrades that will add even more to the mix as you play. Picking and choosing the right upgrade for the right job becomes a must as you progress.
Beyond the Long Night is only available on PC and priced at £15 (currently on sale for the next couple of days, be quick). For me, this is one of the best £15 that you’ll spend this year. Beyond the Long Night can be a little tough at first, maybe even frustrating. Still, aren’t all rouge-lite/likes the same by design? If I had to pick out a niggle, that would be the previously mentioned deadly force that slowly takes over the rooms. I know this is here to keep moving you forward, but this game is one where exploration is a must and being forced to move on when you’re not done enjoying the map is a bit of a downer.
Still, what you get here is a very playable and expertly-crafted game. A world and NPCs crammed with charm and personality. Some really great twin-stick shooting action and a blending of rouge-lite gameplay that really makes Beyond the Long Night a must-buy for fans of the genre. Do you know that impression that you get when you play a game and really get the feeling that the devs poured their heart and soul into it? Beyond the Long Night has that by the truckload, this is a passion project and it really does show too. Go and buy a copy on Steam now, before the sale ends. Oh yeah, keep an eye out for my name in the credits too.