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Beyond Sunset Early Access Review | Stayed Up Playing Beyond Sunrise

86
Story
7
Gameplay
9
Visuals
8
Audio
9
Value for Money
10
Price:
$ 9
Beyond Sunset is a love letter to classic games of the bygone FPS era with a synthwave-cyberpunk twist. With highly addicting combat, great stylized visuals, and an amazing soundtrack, Beyond Sunset will leave you wanting more every second. First impressions can only last so long, however, as the directionless exploration, visual clutter, and early access bugs, such as blocked progression, are present and dampen the whole experience. Nevertheless, Beyond Sunset is proud of its identity and is still a remarkably fun game.

Beyond Sunset is a "synthpunk" FPS action RPG with excellent mobility. Read our review of the game’s early access launch to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth getting.

Beyond Sunset Review Overview

Beyond Sunset Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Checkmark Addicting Combat
Checkmark Captivating Synthpunk Aesthetics
Checkmark Head-Bobbing Soundtrack
Checkmark Aimless Exploration
Checkmark Visual Clutter and Enemy Contrast
Checkmark Early Access Woes and Bugs

Beyond Sunset Overall - 82/100

Beyond Sunset is a love letter to classic games of the bygone FPS era with a synthwave-cyberpunk twist. With highly addicting combat, great stylized visuals, and an amazing soundtrack, Beyond Sunset will leave you wanting more every second. First impressions can only last so long, however, as the directionless exploration, visual clutter, and early access bugs, such as blocked progression, are present and dampen the whole experience. Nevertheless, Beyond Sunset is proud of its identity and is still a remarkably fun game.

Beyond Sunset Story - 7/10

For the most part, Beyond Sunset’s story is less emphasized compared to its gameplay. Cutscenes play at the start of episodes to give context to the mission. But that’s where you’ll find almost all story beats through the entire game, besides sprinkles of dialogue interactions within missions. Nevertheless, a game with such stylish mechanics still succeeds by not muddling its engaging gameplay loop with an overly complicated plot.

Beyond Sunset Gameplay - 9/10

Beyond Sunset is flat-out addicting. With gameplay that harkens back to DOOM and Duke Nukem eras, mixed with the fluidity and hyperactivity of modern FPS titles such as Titanfall 2 or Apex Legends, you’ve got yourself a stylish and fast-paced game that will leave you yearning for every fight. The only minor downsides are the frequent downtimes when you’re required to frequently backtrack across wide, complicated maps empty of enemies to advance the objectives.

Beyond Sunset Visuals - 8/10

If you combine retro synthwave aesthetics with futuristic cyberpunk, you’ll get the synthpunk that is Beyond Sunset. The superb visuals take inspiration from classic games of the DOOM era, but how it’s fashioned to fit a sci-fi world makes for a very refreshing experience. There is a problem with visual accessibility, however, since an abundance of on-screen clutter, such as overlapping special and environmental effects, and enemies, can lead to difficulties in discerning details. This may ultimately provide more confusion than awe.

Beyond Sunset Audio - 9/10

The game’s soundtrack is undeniably stellar. It’s filled with energetic and retro tunes that electrify the atmosphere. The sound design is also well-made, with various SFX(sound effects) produced to sound like they would fit perfectly into the games it was inspired by. There are, however, plenty of dead moments between major events or locations where you’ll be subjected to a single ambient looping synth track that gets old rather quickly. The looping also isn’t very well done, with very noticeable pauses when it stops and starts again.

Beyond Sunset Value for Money - 10/10

Beyond Sunset is still in Early Access for only $8.99. Though the game’s episodes are relatively short, its gameplay, aesthetics, and music make the price worth it. For replayability, there are multiple difficulties for challenge runs, and the game’s fluid mobility provides an excellent setting for speedruns.

Beyond Sunset Review: Stayed Up Playing Beyond Sunrise

Give me a katana and free reign to slice people up, and I will be happy. Giving me excellent mobility options as well? I’m very happy. Oh, on top of all of that, you’re giving me a bunch of guns as well? Thanks, I’ve achieved gaming nirvana.

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Inside of me are two wolves. One loves synthwave aesthetics, and the other loves cyberpunk aesthetics. Beyond Sunset has both wolves howling and salivating at all the excellent designs and artwork. I’ll go into more detail later on, but know that visual direction is remarkable almost every step of the way.

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The amount of time I amassed playing Beyond Sunset has been, well, beyond all expectations. It is such a fun and enjoyable game. It’s a Doom-like first-person action RPG with a big emphasis on movement and mobility. Its exhilarating gameplay, breathtaking art direction, and stimulating score coalesce into a mind-blowing experience. The game is confident of its identity and is unapologetically sound in all its design decisions.

The difficulty is no joke, either. Despite your overwhelming power, you can still be felled in an instant. Learning how to dodge, block, and manage your health during combat is a must, even in the lowest difficulty. If all else fails, the game lets you save exactly when and where you are, for an unlimited amount of times. That means save-scumming is a viable strategy to victory (of which I am guilty of maybe once or twice…)

Nevertheless, fully utilizing every single available movement ability, in tandem with a selection of sci-guns, provides such a stylish and rewarding feeling that is plain addicting, and I can’t wait to boot the game back up and play more.

Speaking of booting the game up, on the very first time I opened it, I was immediately invested in the music. With the pulsating synths and beats blasting into my ears, I couldn’t wait to hear the other tracks in the game. I oftentimes found myself stretching out encounters and letting a single enemy live just to prolong the duration of the background score. It was that good.

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Overall, Beyond Sunset is beyond expectations, even at early access. Though there are still a few kinks to iron out here and there, I’ve no doubt that on full release, the game will be a sleeper hit that no one will see coming.

Pros of Beyond Sunset

Things Beyond Sunset Got Right
Checkmark Addicting Combat
Checkmark Captivating Synthpunk Aesthetics
Checkmark Head-Bobbing Soundtrack


Addicting Combat

Beyond Sunset’s combat gameplay is the definition of addicting. With how responsive attacking, blocking, firing, sliding, dashing, and Powerkilling are, it’s hard to resist.

Powerkilling is an instant kill that can only be done by consuming special bars that fill up during combat or from enemy drops. Powerkilling enemies also restore health and ammunition, providing excellent utility. This, just like its melee combat in general, is smooth, fast, and lethal. Rapidly approaching enemies and literally cutting through them, as seen from the first clip above, is so much fun.

The guns are no slouch either, as they all have their niches. The clip above, for example, makes use of the pistol, which has the ability to fire automatically or perform charged shots. Charged shots, in particular, are so dependably strong that they can just melt most of the common opposition in a satisfying way.

Every good game needs a shotgun, and Beyond Sunset’s doesn’t disappoint. Using the great mobility at your disposal, quickly closing in the distance against foes to maximize the shotgun’s firepower up close is a match made in heaven. On top of that, shotguns in Beyond Sunset are viable at ANY range unlike in other titles. That means you can snipe enemies in a row from a long distance or quickly move in to shower their faces with pellets in rapid succession. The developers clearly prioritized enjoyment and style in weapon balancing, and you won’t find me arguing against that.

There are many more guns in the game I haven’t shown, and rest assured they are all equally as fun and overpowered.

Captivating Synthpunk Aesthetics

Beyond Sunset stylistically fuses synthwave and cyberpunk visuals to form its own aesthetic, and it prevails. Bright windows gleaming into dark corridors and hallways,; street signs flashing vibrant advertisements,; and rooftops adorned with blinking neon signs, the art direction of Beyond Sunset so rich and on point everywhere you look.From the moody and vibrant color palettes of synthwave to the futuristic sci-fi robotic architecture of cyberpunk, they all seamlessly combine in a masterful visual design that remains impressive even after hours of playing.

Head-Bobbing Soundtrack

From the main menu, to the story cutscenes, the unique combat encounters, and each boss fight, the background scores are exhilarating and pumps you up before, during, and after every fight.

The soundtrack was composed by Karl Vincent, a retrowave and synthwave artist who has been steadily releasing music independently for years. His involvement with Beyond Sunset is undeniably the biggest exposure he has gotten, and we can only thank the developers for bringing his musical talent to light.

There are some blemishes between the great tracks, however, as outside of aforementioned unique encounters and bosses, the ambient tracks, unfortunately, grow old rather quickly while you’re exploring. An example would be the constantly looping and reverberating synth in the first episode. It’s serviceable at first, but once you start getting lost, it’ll be all that you hear for a long time. The looping wasn’t done very cleanly as well, since you can precisely point out when the music stops and starts again.

Cons of Beyond Sunset

Things Beyond Sunset Can Improve
Checkmark Aimless Exploration
Checkmark Visual Clutter and Enemy Contrast
Checkmark Early Access Woes and Bugs


Aimless Exploration

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Due to how vast and complex Beyond Sunset’s levels are, it’s unfortunately very easy to lose your way. The map is a cluttered, overlaid mess of highlighted outlines with all its verticality. Its complexity makes it rather difficult to discern which is which and where is where. You could say "forget it" and proceed without bothering with your map even once. Still, with the lengthy corridors and complicated map layouts, plenty of backtracking will be required throughout multiple areas and levels. So, you’ll eventually find yourself seeking some sort of viable guide, and your only bet is the map.

In my experience, I had to rely on feeling my way through each area, only to stumble upon the next point of interest by coincidence. This cost me a large chunk of time just wandering around trying to find enemies to signal where I should go, as it was extremely tedious to seek them out repeatedly.

Visual Clutter and Enemy Contrast

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Though the game has a great art style and aesthetics, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (or rather, holograms and neon?). With all the dazzling effects and environmental decorations, their visuals overlap and create a lot of clutter. This is especially true in encounters with a high amount of enemies. All the weapon effects, hit notifications, and environmental props end up obscuring the battlefield and visibility.

Then there are those moments where you’ll find yourself surrounded by foes. Getting damage inflicted on you from various angles renders you visually helpless. It’s very simple to just say "move out of the way and don’t get hit, skill issue." But, these situations are inevitable due to the game’s habit of springing enemies onto the player either through horde spamming or its use of unreachable ranged enemies. In some situations, you simply can’t move out of the way, forcing you to resort to accepting the visual obstructions as is and either stumble free or die.

Sometimes, the area’s lighting effects also influence the enemy sprites' colors, rendering them almost indiscernible from their surroundings. The contrast between the background and foes drops, and reacting swiftly to their actions becomes strenuous. Though this is a very cool detail for added immersion, making the enemies a similar shade as the backgrounds drastically affects the time needed to identify them.

Early Access Woes and Bugs

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The game has a journal that was completely blank throughout my entire playthrough. This is where you keep track of objectives and where you need to go. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure whether this is a bug or perhaps a placeholder for the future feature while still in early access. This would have been really helpful to address the issues of its aimless exploration. It would have provided reminders of where to go, how to proceed, and you could use it to review the areas/objectives you’ve accomplished per episode.

I also experienced a bug during a main story encounter where all exits were blocked, and you had to clear every wave of enemies to proceed; a couple of hostiles wouldn’t stop spawning. As seen from the footage above, two basic henchmen wouldn’t stop teleporting in well after I’ve eliminated everyone else. It was evidently a bug, so when I restarted and cleared the area once more, it proceeded as normally.

Lastly, there are some areas where you can get stuck by going out of your way to do so. Although, it may have been largely my fault for being too inquisitive. Still, it’s inevitable to have areas such as these in a game with great mobility and complex maps with tons of props, so hopefully, these all get ironed out throughout the game’s early access lifetime.

Is Beyond Sunset Worth It?

Yes, So You Better Wake Up Street Samurai, There’s a City to Burn

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Yes, Beyond Sunset is absolutely worth your time and money. The unique aesthetics, the addicting gameplay loop, and the magnificent soundtrack are all prime factors of why this game is so good. You could look at it as a synthwave album that came with a bonus game.

Though the game is relatively short, with only three episodes of varying length, there is tons of replayability. A multitude of guns can be obtained to master and utilize in combat, for example. The game is also designed for viable challenge runs with its very engaging combat, and speedruns with its high mobility to run through the map and complete the objectives as fast as you can.

There would be times when you could get stuck due to the difficulty of some fights. Luckily, 3 difficulty options, from novice to normal to hard, are available for players who might have trouble with the combat.

Beyond Sunset Overview & Premise

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Beyond Sunset takes place in Sunset City, California in 20XX AD. You wake up from cryostasis and are greeted by a mysterious woman named Yuri, and you discover that all your memories have been lost from your slumber. Yuri extends an offer, where you can enact her revenge against the crime syndicates that wronged her. In return, she will grant you back your identity, and memories.

Beyond Sunset FAQ

What Game Engine Does Beyond Sunset Use?

Beyond Sunset is built upon the GZDoom engine, a feature-centric port for all Doom engine games. This attests to the game’s various similarities to the old Doom games.

Is Beyond Sunset Out?

Beyond Sunset is currently out in Early Access for $8.99. It currently contains 3/5 full episodes, with the remaining episodes 4 and 5 to be released around Q2 2024.

Beyond Sunset Product Information

_GAME_TITLE Banner
Title BEYOND SUNSET
Release Date November 8, 2023 (Early Access)
Developer Metacorp / Vaporwave
Publisher Movie Games S.A.
Supported Platforms PC
Genre Action, Retro, FPS
Number of Players Single Player (1)
ESRB Rating N/A
Official Website Beyond Sunset Official Website

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