A new indie take on Pokemon has arrived in the form of Cassette Beasts, and fans of creature-collector RPGs are hailing it as an incredible entry in the genre.
Cassette Beasts puts you in the shoes of a fully customizable character who's been whisked to a mysterious new world that seems to be populated with other people lost from across time and space. The world is naturally also populated with a wide array of monsters with various abilities, and you'll need to make use of them in order to complete your quest to find a way home.
The game currently has 94% positive reviews on Steam, and a critical response that easily puts it in contention as one of the best games of 2023 so far. The Steam reviews are full of superlatives. One user says "This isn't worth 20 bucks. It feels and plays like something you'd get for $40 to $60." Another calls it "a stellar monster battler with a wide open map and combat system." Yet another simply says "it's like Pokemon, but better."
After a brief spin with Cassette Beasts - which is currently available on PC Game Pass and Steam, with Xbox and Switch ports to follow on May 25 - it's easy to see why the praise is flowing in. The gimmick here is that you record these beasts to cassette tapes, and physically transform into them by listening to the recording. In practice, it's much like selecting from a team of Pokemon - except that an attack that knocks out one of your creatures also damages you directly, so you have to manage your own health alongside that of your monsters.
The battles are all 2v2 (at least early on), which opens the door for them to be strategically challenging. All combatants gain two action points every turn, so you need to balance your actions between basic abilities that do minimal damage but use up minimal AP and saving up for killer strikes with big damage, AOE spreads, or status effects.
It's a lot of fun and surprisingly challenging even early on - you really have to manage your health, and you've got limited resources to restore it. The game also looks and sounds great. The environments are 3D, but built in the style of top-down pixel art, and the creature designs are all eye-catching. The soundtrack is constantly surprising, filled with ethereal ballads that feature full lyrics. While no game is likely to topple the Pokemon empire anytime soon, this is a terrific alternative if you're looking for something fresh.
If you're looking for more games like Pokemon, you know where to click.