HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewCassette Beasts: Pier of the Unknown Review

Cassette Beasts: Pier of the Unknown Review

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Reviewing games can mean that you have a constant forward momentum, leaving games behind that you would have loved to spend more time with. In our case, Cassette Beasts is one such game. While we explored so much of its world, we weren’t done: there were still monsters to catch and secrets to find. There’s unfinished business there. 

God bless DLC. Pier of the Unknown is a decent lump of paid downloadable content for Cassette Beasts (yours for only £5.79). More importantly, it’s a chance to reverse back to one of our favourite games of 2023. We have the excuse to experience its wonderful soundtrack, impossibly dense game world, multitudes of pocket monsters and deep RPG systems, all over again. 

cassette beasts pier of the unknown review 1
The Pier of the Unknown builds out Cassette Beasts

It’s worth noting that Pier of the Unknown needs you to jump through some hoops before you can play it. You need to have beaten the four archangels and have met The Triangle Man, and we’d recommend that you’re at least level 40, which is about where the enemies sit. At that point, you can then chat to Clémence who runs the Gramophone Cafe in Harbortown. They will lay down the deets before you can travel to the docks, where a mysterious unmanned boat is waiting to take you to the Pier of the Unknown. 

As someone who grew up in and around Brighton beach and its pier, Brightside Pier gave me a little Ready Brek glow. This is your archetypical British seaside town, but seen through the lens of the movie The Mist. Everything is gloomy, foggy and monster-filled, soundtracked by a broken music box. It’s not too different from the south coast at all, actually. 

After meeting Gwen, the local clown, you get the gist of what needs to be done. You need to fight monsters (incorporating twelve newbies) to gain Prize Tickets, which can be traded for admission into three different ‘zones’: the Witch’s House, the Funhouse and Cosmic Zone. Inside are three wayward machine bosses, and by defeating them you can uncover the source of the corruption. You’re not getting a spoiler about who or what that is: just know that it’s a cracking addition to the game’s core narrative. 

Monster-wise, Cassette Beasts: Pier of the Unknown is golden. We can only imagine the work (AI-assisted, admittedly, but still impressive) in generating the 19,881 hybrids that people are going to create through mashing them up with their own monsters. They’re a varied bunch too, riffing on the spoopy and carnivalesque themes. Our favourite is Charlequin, whose party trick is to flit between elemental types, making them extremely versatile in battle. It made for a quick addition to my usual roster of cassette beasts. 

cassette beasts pier of the unknown review 2
Hey, it’s the Brightside Pier…

While there are no new vocal tracks, the music’s great too. We’ve come to expect great audio from Cassette Beasts, but the island’s main track is a real ear-worm. The emphasis on even more analogue, music-box-sounding tracks is a nice counterpoint to the cassettes, too. 

Where Pier of the Unknown falls down for us, though, is what it chooses to push up rather than pull down. Nobody is going to say that their favourite part of Cassette Beasts was the platforming, but here it’s surprisingly prominent. Particularly in the Funhouse, there are moving platforms, disappearing ones and rotating logs. It’s a bit of a gauntlet, yet the control and precision of the platforming in Cassette Beasts isn’t strong enough to meet it. We found ourselves getting increasingly frustrated, trying to push our character over the finish line and away from that sodding level. 

The same frustration is saved for the bosses. If they were a single boss, they would have been fine: their Machine Curse attacks nullified large swathes of my team’s capability, meaning that I had to find alternate plans quickly. It was nice to be dragged out of my usual routine. But then another boss arrives that does the same thing, and then another. We realised that the keepers of the three events were largely identikit, and the joy was diluted. 

cassette beasts pier of the unknown review 3
Yep, you’re right – we’re struggling on screenshots for this one!

And then there’s that playtime. We spent just shy of two hours in Pier of the Unknown, and we’re not sure that we will ever be back. We’ve found its one hidden monster and exhausted all of the uses of the Prize Tickets. It’s out-of-the-way enough to make visiting it a pain, and it’s not well incorporated into the wider repeatable quests. It’s slightly more throwaway than we would have liked. Perhaps this is a snack before a larger DLC drop? We can hope. Bytten Studio have certainly been talking about a Multiplayer DLC in the near future. 

On a personal note, though, Pier of the Unknown did something important. It gave me a reason to return to Cassette Beasts, to fill out that monster catalogue and hike up my levels. I got a Charlequin to play with, and had a short but sharp addition of new gameplay, smothered in nostalgia for British beach holidays. For that alone, I’m glad Pier of the Unknown exists. If every enjoyable game that I’ve left behind in 2023 could do the same, that would be lovely.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • More Cassette Beasts is never a bad thing
  • New monsters are fantastically designed
  • Moody new environment to explore
Cons:
  • Funhouse is a house, but not fun
  • Bosses are too repetitive
  • Only amounts to a couple of hours
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Raw Fury
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 4 October 2023 | £5.79
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>More Cassette Beasts is never a bad thing</li> <li>New monsters are fantastically designed</li> <li>Moody new environment to explore</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Funhouse is a house, but not fun</li> <li>Bosses are too repetitive</li> <li>Only amounts to a couple of hours</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Raw Fury</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 4 October 2023 | £5.79</li> </ul>Cassette Beasts: Pier of the Unknown Review
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