Wishes Unlimited has put itself on the map over the past several years with games like Wandersong and the indie breakout hit Chicory: A Colorful Tale. While the team's next project was anybody's guess, few could have imagined it would blend the standard Pokemon formula with a round of volleyball. Shacknews recently put on our coach's whistle and ventured onto the field to give Beastieball a first look.
First revealed at Day of the Devs: Summer Game Fest Edition earlier this month, Beastieball immediately draws players in with its hand-drawn art style. Built on the GameMaker: Studio 2 engine, players step into a cartoonish world and into a familiar gameplay loop. They are first asked to select a starter Beastie.
However, these creatures aren't being selected for the purpose of fighting. Instead, they're setting out to become the best in a different way and that's through sheer dominance on the volleyball field. Battles play out like turn-based RPGs and, in fact, visually resemble a classic Pokemon title. However, there are some main differences, primarily with the combat and its surprising depth.
When Beasties attack, they'll not only put the volleyball in play, but they'll hit an opposing player and reduce their HP in the process. If a Beastie's HP falls to zero, they'll pass out and leave their side of the field defenseless. Battles become a delicate balancing act between battling creatures, playing defensively, and also making sure that the ball stays in play. If you focus on attacking, it's all for naught, because once the ball lands on your side and hits the ground, the game's over. New mechanics will be introduced over time, like healing teammates and inflicting status conditions. The game will also open up more to factor in teamwork and Beastie chemistry. The rock-paper-scissors element of battle won't just apply when dealing with opponents, but also when fielding your own team.
In-between volleyball matches, players will not only look to catch new Beasties and train the ones already on their roster, but they'll look to explore a full world. While the demo was only open to a small playable area, it offered a taste of what to expect by packing it with eccentric characters and trainers who will challenge you to matches as soon as they get their eyes on you.
There wasn't much time to try out Beastieball, but the volleyball sessions and the random character encounters point to something delightfully deep. We're happy to see that the Beastieball Kickstarter has surpassed its goal and are eager to see this game live up to its potential. Beastieball is coming to PC in 2024. Those who want a taste of it right now can check out the playable Steam demo.
This preview is based on a PC demo played on-site from the Summer Game Fest: Play Days event and may not be representative of the final product. Meals were provided by Summer Game Fest.