Record ’em all, fight ’em all in monster-packed open-world RPG ‘Cassette Beasts’

"Cassette Beasts" is a turn-based, open world RPG video game set on New Wirral, an island inhabited by monsters. Record them on cassette tape and then transform into them for battle.
(Photo courtesy of Bytten Studio and Raw Fury)
"Cassette Beasts" is a turn-based, open world RPG video game set on New Wirral, an island inhabited by monsters. Record them on cassette tape and then transform into them for battle. (Photo courtesy of Bytten Studio and Raw Fury)

'Cassette Beasts’

  • Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox, Linux
  • Cost: $19.99
  • Rating: Everyone 10+ (fantasy violence)
  • Score: 8 out of 10

Don't think of "Cassette Beasts," a turn-based, open-world monster-catching game, as just a "Pokémon" clone. It's its own beast, so to speak.

Unlike Pokémon, in which trainers capture wild animals and force them to fight in a way that's eerily similar to dogfighting, in this game the player will transform into the beast using a retro cassette. Beasts use attacks that are assigned with stickers, which can be transferred between beasts, allowing for a great amount of customization.

The game starts with the player falling through a strange vortex and waking up on a beach in pajamas (which I took to mean there's a good chance the whole game takes place in a fever dream, because the monsters are wildly imaginative). Players find themselves on an island called New Wirral, and get a 1980s-style cassette player and cassette, which can be used to record a monster, allowing the player to transform into it and combat the many dangerous beasts that inhabit the area.

Catching monsters also unlocks abilities to help traverse the world, such as the ability to climb or fly into more difficult areas (which also prevents players from wandering into areas that are too high for their level).

Conversations with townsfolk reveal that people have been "blipping" into this world for over a century, with no one knowing how to get home. Rather than this being a story about capturing and bonding with monsters, the interactions are between humans, and it's only a recording of the dangerous beasts used for transformations.

Beasts can also evolve, but it's not as simple as hitting a certain level. Each cassette can be upgraded to five stars, at which point it can be "remastered," evolving the beast recorded on it. Some monsters have multiple evolution options, as long as certain conditions are met, like improving it at night or while it has certain skills equipped.

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The beasts all have certain elemental strengths and weaknesses, which can have lots of consequences in battle. Similar to what happens when lightning strikes sand, using a lightning-based attack on an earth-type monster turns it into a glass-type monster, which could introduce new weaknesses to exploit.

Players will eventually unlock the "fusion" ability as well, really increasing the complexity of the game. Monsters can temporarily fuse in battle to increase their power and unlock new abilities. There are already more than 120 monsters in the game, each of which can be fused to another -- and the order of fusion matters, meaning there's more than 14,000 combinations that can be created.

"Cassette Beasts" has a lot of refreshing takes on the monster-collection genre, such as making the monster types and attack effectiveness more dynamic than just boosting or reducing damage. The game is of decent length (probably about 20 to 25 hours), more if you're the type of completionist who actually does have to capture them all and get every monster and achievement in the game.

True collectors will also want to track down all the "bootleg" monsters (think shiny types), which are variants that have different elemental types than normal.

The soundtrack for the game is quite good as well. A couple of features I wanted to point out is that in the settings, the vocals for the music can be turned off. Or, it's also cool that when this track is playing as background music at the moment a fusion takes place, the lyrics kick in. In short, the music and sound direction of "Cassette Beasts" are also on point.

"Cassette Beasts" can be enjoyed with a friend, thanks to its seamless co-op multiplayer drop-in/drop-out mode. Hand a controller to a pal, and he or she can control the companion character at any time.

If Pokémon is a bit too childlike and simplistic for you, and you want a little more edge in your monster-catching game or just want to feel like you did the first time you played Pokémon, "Cassette Beasts" is an excellent game to try. It's creative, mysterious, and the boss fights are a wild ride.

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