Beyond the Veil is a unique attempt to spin a twin-stick shooter into some odd hybrid of top-down dungeon crawler combined with RPG and resource gathering elements. Despite all of the valid attempts at engaging the player with an elaborate backstory and a wonderful soundtrack the game, for me, was pretty much a total failure.
The game’s minimalist approach is apparent from the opening six-page story setup before you are left to some truly bad visuals and boring gameplay. There are no video options, so I couldn’t tweak resolution, gamma, or v-sync; a major oversight since this game is way too dark and has horrible screen tear when rotating, which is all the time. There were no options for controls, and while my controller was supported it was clear from all the PC key prompts they want you to use a mouse and keyboard. But even after figuring out the proper buttons the analog speed and acceleration were way too twitchy to even play this game past the first few levels.
The top-down shooter style had me flashing back to my old-school days of playing Asteroids in the arcade, with simplistic shapes and minimal colors combining for a low-key, and frankly boring visual style. The game is overly dark, perhaps by intent, but even the revealed areas around the Wanderer were cast in shadow. Only after turning off all the lights in my game room was I able to fully comprehend my surroundings. This game needs some HDR support.
Beyond the Veil is broken up into connected levels you access from an overview map. Levels consist of you moving around (usually backwards) as you try to shoot these tiny enemies, but since the aiming is so bad you basically have to get far enough away and stop then wait for the enemies to line up directly in front of you to guarantee a hit, otherwise your shots are flying all over the place. There are some RPG components tossed in with physical and mental attributes and even a bit of crafting to make use of all the stuff you collect from the various levels during and after combat. Ranged and melee enemies offer a varied and suitable challenge, mostly due to the poor controls, and you have two difficulty options, Brutal and Calm to choose from.
“Simply Not Fun”. That was one of the final notes I had on my list while playing this game and easily sums up my time playing Beyond the Veil. The music was excellent but everything else from the wicked screen tearing and dark graphics distracted from any attempt to get invested or even like this game. The resource gathering was tedious and most of the RPG stuff seemed tacked on as an afterthought. But even as a twin-stick shooter the combat was slow and plodding, and I don’t think it would have been any better if the controls were fixed.
To their credit, the developers have been tweaking the game since it launched in April. Their most recent patch removed the whole hunger and thirst mechanics which were causing several no-win scenarios – not good in a game with only a single save file. But having played the game at launch and again after the June update I only found the game slightly less annoying. There are some great quality of life improvements in the latest version but it’s all game systems and mechanics; nothing to improve controls or visuals, and certainly nothing to make the game “fun”. Beyond the Veil has all the internal components of becoming a great game. It just needs to decide on if it wants to be a shooter or an RPG, because it fails miserably at trying to be both.