A Hand in an Alley
Beyond This Side, a narrative-driven point-and-click puzzle title developed by Glim Games, follows Sam as he endeavors to unravel the tragedy of his wife’s disappearance. The police, who have long since moved on to more promising cases, recovered only her severed hand in the trashcan of a filthy alley. Sam, grief stricken, returns to the alley every day and soon discovers that his wife’s death might have an otherworldly explanation. Told in episodes, with the third and final one as yet unreleased, the game sets up what could have been an intriguing supernatural mystery.
Not Beyond Much of Anything Really
Beyond This Side is mediocre in almost every way and fails to stand out from the myriad other games on the market exactly like it. For a supernatural whodunit, the story is interesting but not unique. It’s sufficiently intriguing that you want to know what happens next, but you’re never on the edge of your seat. The mystery picks up a bit by the end of the second episode but, lacking a third installment, it comes to an anticlimactic end. And the trudge to reach this point in the story means I will definitely not rush to the app store when Glim Games finally releases Episode 3.
Excessive amounts of text make progressing through the game a slog, and a majority of it is pointless. The goal is to build a backstory and flesh out the characters so that you feel invested in what happens to them. But I don’t care if a pizza is moldering on the bed or that the girl likes Stephen King. I’ve played games that presented similarly mundane information and drew me into the world, rather than bore me as Beyond This Side did.
Speaking of writing, the game was apparently written by a non-native English speaker who still had a decent command of the language. This results in errors that are more jarring than, say, a game that’s poorly localized from beginning to end. Poor word choice or strange phrasing stand out all the more because it doesn’t occur regularly. Add in frequent typos, punctuation errors, occasional odd spacing, even poor font choice, and the in-game text overall diminishes the gameplay experience and adds to the impression of an unpolished game. That’s a big fail in a story-driven title.
Nice, but Not Nice Enough
The graphics in Beyond This Side, with hand-drawn backgrounds and characters, present one of the game’s only strong points. But even the visuals aren’t particularly unique or mind blowing. While skillfully done, it’s not anything that even a casual gamer wouldn’t have seen before. Additionally, the character models are rather unpleasant to look at. This is of course subjective, and another player might find their design charming. However, I found the characters’ bulging eyes, blank stares, and odd forward-leaning stances to be disconcerting. Rather than build a connection with them, I became indifferent and even a little repelled. They lacked charisma. I didn’t identify with them at all and therefore didn’t care about their stories.
The biggest crime committed by the developers of Beyond This Side is the frequent regurgitation of puzzles. The two key elements of this game are its story and the puzzles used to progress that story. Unfortunately, the puzzles are not innovative or even fun for the most part. They are nothing you haven’t seen before if you’ve even occasionally dabbled in puzzle games.
To make it worse, you will do these same lackluster, uninventive puzzles multiple times throughout the game. You’ll reconstruct numerous photos and torn sheets of paper. More than once, you will have to slide four blocks from the right side of the screen to designated slots on the left. Digging through the trash looking for a lost item isn’t very compelling the first time. But when you have to do it three times in a row, maybe now in a desk drawer or in a toolbox, it’s enough to make you sigh with exasperation.
I’ve Already Moved Beyond It
Beyond This Side cost $2.99 for the first two episodes. That price of course may change, but unless it drops to a dollar, it will be too high. The game can be completed in about two hours. Yet as I played, I had the unshakeable feeling that I could be doing better things with my life. By the time Episode 3 comes out, I will doubtless have forgotten about the game entirely. And if I do remember, I still won’t care enough about how the story turns out to finish it.
Is it Hardcore?
Not at all.
Beyond This Side is a point-and-click adventure game that is mediocre in nearly every way. Offering an uninspired story and puzzles, as well as an underwhelmingly short experience, gamers will be better served if they take their money elsewhere.