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Beast, out in early access today, is Baldur's Gate 3 meets Diablo 4 via Unreal Engine 5

Inner demons! Insanity! Gridlessness!

A close-up headshot of a demonic-looking medieval character from turn-based tactics RPG Beast
Image credit: False Prophet

If you're weary of Baldur's Gate 3's whimsy, or you've finished gnawing the bones of Diablo 4 and are hungry for more of that sweet, sweet grimdark, you might like to check out Beast from Polish developer False Prophet, which goes into Steam early access today. It's a turn-based tactics RPG with a Gothic historical setting, an extremely late-noughties insanity mechanic, a heavy metal soundtrack, plagues, heresy, dynastic feuding, and a protagonist with a dramatic eye scar and possibly non-metaphorical "inner demons". Amongst other things, it looks like you can run people over with a horse-drawn carriage. M-Rated enough for you, edgelords? Here's the trailer.

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The game casts you as Anton Sabbados, a former slave of the Ottoman Empire who returns to his Carpathian homelands to find that everything and everybody is filthy with disease and/or on fire. He must carry out One Last Job on behalf of weirdo Prophet-King Lurius, but the King's brat of a son Prince Nicolai has other ideas. Ack, these princes, always making a fuss when all you want to do is raze a few villages to the ground.

The game features a grid-less battle system and a skill-and-perks progression system in which you will, amongst other things, decide whether to "exercise" or "exorcise" the aforesaid inner demons. You can unleash Anton's pent-up madness for short-term gain, or restrain it so as to leave a bit less wrack and ruin in your wake - I face much the same dilemma everyday at 9am, before I've had my coffee. These decisions will also shape the opinions and fates of companion characters. They're calling this a "moral choice" system but they also describe the setting as a balance of "evil" or "less evil", so I wouldn't expect a Happy Ending, exactly.

A screenshot from turn-based tactics RPG Beast, showing a battle in a forest clearing.
A screenshot from turn-based tactics RPG Beast, showing a village through trees from above.
Image credit: False Prophet

Beast runs on Unreal Engine 5 and is the work of a 30-strong team including veterans of Shadow Warrior 3, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts and The Medium. The early access version includes about 20 playable missions, two main characters, seven enemy classes, 11 enemy types and 40 types of weapon. False Prophet are aiming to hit the big 1.0 milestone sometime in 2024.

"As this is truly an Alpha version of the game (which means actual early code) there is a lot of stuff planned to be implemented, fixed, updated, balanced and optimized before full release," the developers note. "You will hear temporary music, voice overs and sound effects. You will see strange animations & graphics and you'll likely be able to exploit combat systems at times."

Fancy it? Here's the Steam link. Based on past experience of ostentatiously unpleasant dark fantasy games, I think this could be one of two things: surprisingly decent or massively cringe. Either way, it's vaguely scratching my itch for a game set in Sanctuary in which I do something over than run a vacuum cleaner over piles of corpses. Incidentally, be wary of Googling this - the top search results for "False Prophet Beast" are a bit... zealous.

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