Behind the Beyond – Review: First Sip

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Behind the Beyond is a third person action stealth game, developed by Bhomriska Studios (Who I believe is a solo dev, Sidhanth Mohite).

Story

I wish I could tell you what the story of Behind the Beyond is, I really do, but I still have no idea, not only is the story horribly complex, but the developer’s native language is not English and it shows, grammatical and spelling issues are plentiful, the game also contains 8 levels that can be played out of sequence which makes things even harder to understand, there is some nonsense about technology at the start, and then the levels I managed to get loaded up mention “an intel” (probably referring to military intelligence, but could be an old PC), the first level opens on William Brown, a secret agent who wakes up on some island and needs to get a power core for some reason because an unknown ladies voice tells him too, the other level I managed to load had a similar setup although this time William Brown told some lady about more intel and then sent her into the subway, overall the story seemed to be a bunch of action/sci-fi tropes loosely tied together and then translated into English.

Graphics

Visually I found the pictures of the gameplay to be quite good, with smooth textures, high quality models, advanced lighting and particle effects, it was all very impressive for a solo dev, then I booted up the game, and boy was I surprised, despite having all the visual settings maxed out, the game looked kinda dull and honestly a little ugly too, the character models have static faces that appear to be just pasted onto their basic bodies, Wiliam Brown’s hair looks like it is on the verge of falling out it’s so wispy and thin, things are constantly clipping through each other, in the first level I could walk partially inside the trees, the trees themselves looked quite odd being all virtually identical and just sort of pasted all together to form a makeshift forest, when I controlled the female character her weapon was about 7% inside her at all times, either that or the holster was the same color as her clothes and was made out of liquid so it would shift around as she moved, Behind the Beyond is made in Unreal Engine 4, which from my limited understanding has a bunch of basic templates so even someone knew to game development can make something that looks nice, sadly BTB appears to just use the defaults as is, either that or models that are very similar.

Sound

By far one of the worst aspects of the game, the sound in Behind the Beyond is appalling, firstly the game started off on a deafening 7500 out of 100 and starts you right next to a fire that sounds like it is burning up about a thousand broken TV’s and white noise machines, so I turned it down, there is only one sound option “Master volume” so I dropped that to about 70, no discernible change, I dropped it further to 50, still deafening, I figured I’ll just turn it completely off for now at least until I can get away from the fire, so I set it to 0…and there was no change, apparently the sound option is just for show and has no impact on the game at all, after playing the game I noticed mention of a new build that “completely fixes the sound issues” unfortunately this update was about a month earlier and was indeed the version I was playing.

Other than the sound effects in the game, (the gunfire being somehow an even louder and more distorted static than the fire), there is full voice acting in the game, however no people receive credits for this, because it’s all done with text to speech robot voicing, the female voice is far better than the male one, but due to lack of inflection and the already shaky dialogue they are both very noticeable as not being real people.

Gameplay

Pick up guns, shoot, crouch, get shot, die, restart, etc. gameplay in Behind the Beyond, is pretty standard third person shooter fare, you can have two weapons, a primary and a secondary, you can walk around, you can crouch which would theoretically help with stealth, however the AI was so bad that if the enemies were not looking directly at me they would just go about their business, which seems to involve slight pacing and a lot of staring at nothing, however once they notice you that’s it, they will continually fire at you even if a wall is in the way, eventually moving around the wall so you can kill them, or they can kill you, there is probably other aspects and things to do, I think I saw a car in the trailer, but I never got up to anything else.

Controls

The controls are fine, mouse to aim and shoot, WASD to move, E to pickup/interact, space to jump, shift to run and control to crouch etc., the one thing that really irked me about the controls scheme though is that nowhere in the control screen does it show you a key to reload your gun, this is a major issue because once you empty the clip, you have to manually reload, if you don’t hit the button then your character doesn’t reload, I did work out that it was R to reload, but I don’t know why it was on me to work that out.

Optimisation and Errors

Normally I don’t talk about optimisation, because it’s not typically an issue I come across, however with Behind the Beyond, not only did I have the audio issues mentioned earlier, I also had an issue where the entire screen had green flashing lines that made it impossible to see, after changing the resolution out of full screen that was fixed, however most levels I tried to enter would just crash the game without warning, I would get the loading screen and then be back on my desktop, eventually a message did pop up telling me there was insufficient memory to load the textures, now my PC rig isn’t top of the line but it’s a solid setup, for instance I can run GTA5 at max settings without issue, but for some reason a series of stock hallways seems to be too much, I also found that when I tried to take a screenshot so I could document the look of the actual game, it would instead be a picture of the pause menu, after messing around for a while and using my recording software to grab the screenshots I lost the ability to actually use the pause menu, then the sound completely dropped out, I died after being ambushed and unable to equip the gun on my back, and the game once again crashed due to memory issues despite the reduced quality settings, and this caused my PC have a weird issue where the task bar was frozen but I was still able to select things just an inch off of where they were, audio and video files would play but the timer/image would not change and the top bar in most programs was just missing until I did a full reboot.

I also want to note that the game is about 26GB, this is almost double that of Resident Evil 4 (roughy 14GB), and even though RE4 is an older game it still looks and plays a lot better.

Overall

I did not have fun with Behind the Beyond, the story was nonsensical, the “voice acting” was monotonous, the gameplay was bland and unenjoyable and the graphics were disappointing after seeing the screenshots, I am a big fan of movies as well as games, with movies there are good films, which are genuinely enjoyed (Spider-Man Homecoming, The Shape of Water etc.), then there are bad films that are enjoyed ironically (Spiderman 3, The Room etc.) and in the middle you have the bland films that are boring, forgettable and not worth the time, this is where Behind the Beyond lives for me.

Being not only an indie game but also a solo dev, you could afford BTB some leeway, but honestly, it’s not up to the player to have to apply that sort of mentality to enjoy a game, there are plenty of small team and solo developed games out there that are amazing, I can applaud the effort, but some things just don’t work.

In Coffee Terms

In coffee terms Behind the Beyond is like and old pot of decaf at an out of the way gas station, it has the ingredients to call itself coffee but the proportions are wrong and it’s been watered down too much, plus it’s been sitting there for a while so it’s lost pretty much any flavour it had, but even if it was fresh, it’s decaf so you don’t even get the caffeine kick, and because the gas station is so far out of the way, it’s that extra level of fiddling around that just compounds the other issues, plus if you’re in that area there are far better blends to try, they might cost a little more, but you pay for quality.

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