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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Cassette Beasts, Side B: Steam in the Subway, Earth Is Afire

I’m finally back with my promised second article on
Cassette Beasts! If you missed the first one, you can read it here; that one serves as my mostly spoiler-free general recommendation of the game. However, I also wanted to do some deeper looks into the game, its systems, its themes, and so on, which necessitates some spoilers. I’ll give a general warning when I start getting into mild things (like discussing specific monsters or the game’s mechanics), and then give a warning at the midpoint when I start moving into more serious story-related spoilers (as well as a few mentions about the story of Bytten Studio’s first game, Lenna’s Inception, which I covered here). Generally, I think this game is strong enough that being spoiled wouldn’t ruin it for you, but if you are sensitive to those, feel free to take advantage of those warnings as jumping off points, or even bookmark this for later, and come back later after you’ve played it some .

In the first part of my Cassette Beasts review, I mentioned that the game lived up to all of the expectations I had for it after loving Bytten Studio’s first game, Lenna’s Inception. And I want to look at that a little more; I’ve already said that they make for an interesting comparison, but there was something specific that stood out to me when I was looking at what I wanted to cover in a spoilered review. See, while it lived up to Lenna in quality, it was actually kind of funny how much expecting Cassette Beasts to be like its predecessor ended up surprising me, particularly in its world building.

Not to spoil it too much, but Lenna’s Inception breaks the fourth wall several times over the course of a playthrough, culminating in a few big reveals during the final dungeon that recontextualize everything you’ve seen to that point, in a way that directly calls attention to the fact that it is a video game. It’s a really big and fun twist, the kind of thing that makes you go back and think “Oh, why didn’t I notice that earlier!”, and I kept expecting something like that in Cassette Beasts. Maybe it’s not fair to expect some huge surprise like that twice, but I can also see why I thought that; there are a few moments where you can see some similar ideas popping up, so it’s maybe not too big of a stretch to think that Cassette Beasts might at least have similar ideas on its mind.