Fist Full of Balloons -Beyond the Long Night Review

Beyond the Long Night has been on my most anticipated list since I covered it when its Kickstarter was first announced. The aesthetic immediately grabbed my attention and the solid demo sold me on the game. Put on your explorers’ hat, grab your balloons, and let’s get climbing that mountain!


In Beyond the Long Night, you play an explorer of sorts. Waking up from a nap on your hammock you run into a guitarist named Pickles. This lovely person informs you that you’re at the base of the underground mountain. He also says you must be on your way to the top because that’s what all explorers before you had attempted. Pickles gives you the bare minimum of what is going on here and expands little by little with each run. He also gives you a present and plays a mean guitar!

Your main goal is to get to the Overworld. This area is often speculated as a place where all explorers that have made it to the Overworld party constantly. The threat of the storm is no more up there. However, not all think this way. There are others that threaten that crossing the barrier into the Overworld could bring “great consequences.”

The rest of the story is shown through various interactions with the denizens of the underground mountain and more. You will have various interactions with a farmer who wanted to throw a party for his cows but lost them all. A cult that worships Sara the creator of the storm. Each of these has its own story that you progress with each time you meet a connection to that storyline. It’s a fun way to encourage exploration and uncover the mysteries that Beyond the Long Night brings.

This encouragement to find out more about this world is honestly the main draw to this game in my opinion. It’s a narrative game disguised as a roguelite. The world is mysterious and intriguing. The way things are cryptically doled out keeps you wanting to discover more about why you’re here. Why do I want to get to the Overworld?


So I really want to start out by thanking the developers that their cutscene in the beginning allows me to choose the pace at which it advances! Oh, how I wish all games did this. Beyond the Long Night has you floating around the map much in the way you would move around in Enter the Gungeon or Binding of Issac. You can dodge roll (although without the upgrade you will take damage when rolling into enemies or bullets) and you have 360 degrees of shooting. It doesn’t really set out to bring anything super new to the genre, but what it does, it does well.

As you make your way through each room you will typically have to clear out all the enemies before you can continue. Enemies drop gems that are used for various shops found throughout the map. What is nice is that upon clearing the room any gems that were not collected are picked up immediately. This was super convenient because things can get a bit chaotic and if I had to worry about picking up gems, I don’t think I would survive very long.

In some rooms, you may find chests of various colors that give you gems and sometimes upgrades. You may also find upgrade rooms that provide free upgrades, paid upgrades, or updates to your map. You’ll also find various items that can be picked up that can be thrown. Things like torches that will then burn enemies or flora and bombs that can be remotely triggered.


The big thing you’re looking for from chests, merchants, and puzzle rooms are upgrades. These modify 1 of 5 things; Bullets, Superpower, passive, and buddy. These upgrades stack so as you start with an increased fire rate of 1 it will increase with each upgrade. Here you will find upgrades that allow you to dodge through enemies, fire through objects for a short distance, and much more. There are a fair amount of items to find throughout your trek up the mountain however, you find them pretty quickly.


I’m a very visual person and I will not lie the visuals for Beyond the Long Night are what immediately grabbed my attention. The second I saw them I felt like I was seeing a new Cave Story game. It’s some beautiful pixel art. What I love is how almost everything has this level of whimsey to it. Your health is shown by the balloons you hold, you and the other denizens are fluffy ghost-like creatures. Even the enemies are cute and fluffy (and deadly). Another prime example that cute games are brutal. I only wish some enemies were a little easier to see amidst the chaos that ensues later in the game.


The soundtrack here is amazing. When I first met Pickles I just wanted to sit there and listen to him jam away on his guitar. Once you get to the actual level the music stays relaxing but takes on a much more electronic vibe from the serenade that Pickles provides. For those that know of and enjoy Tycho, this music will be welcome. I just wish it was louder. I really had to turn down sound effects and turn up my PC to be able to hear it. The other nice thing upon turning it up like this I realized the music is dynamic. So with more enemies the more intense it became but as I worked to clear a room it appears to slowly calm down until there are no enemies left and its back to ambient level. Nice Touch.


There is a lot to love with what Beyond the Long Night brings to the table. However, I simply cannot overlook some modern quality-of-life improvements to this genre that its predecessors created. These are things that need to be in pretty much every roguelite that uses a map system like this unless they’ve found a way to improve on the mold.

There is a TON of backtracking in this game and it’s unnecessary. 100%. Enemies stay dead in empty rooms, some traps remain but are easier to dodge without the aforementioned enemies. Often the backtracking is due to a lack of funds for a room but you are racing the storm that constantly looms over you that getting back is a suicide mission. It ends up feeling like the storm is there to artificially increase how long it takes to unlock everything.

I feel having the ability to have teleporting points would solve this problem. It’s something we’ve seen since Enter the Gungeon and I truly do not think it’s a mechanic that should be ignored when making these room-based roguelites with sprawling maps.

That brings me to my next concern. There isn’t much to unlock (weapon and upgrade-wise). I got to about 95% of items to unlock within around 4-5 hours of play. Having gotten to this part, and enjoying the stories you discover, I have shifted to exploring the lore of Beyond the Long Night. However, the storm makes getting lore a little more difficult. Not because it adds difficulty but because it just removes the ability to backtrack or explore in a timely manner. at 8.5 hours into the game, I am just at 35% of the stories discovered.


One final minute problem I have with Beyond the Long Night is one that some people will love, and others will hate. After you get through to the sanctuary, the game difficulty curve ramps up quite quickly. It really begins to show its bullet hell inspirations and for some, this has been a real sore spot on the Steam forums.

There are a couple of things going on here to create this spike. The first is Beyond the Long Night uses some enemies that are just super small. It can be a challenge to see them, especially during later levels with tons of enemies and bullets. The second, in my opinion, is just how quickly it ramps up. There really isn’t much time to ease into navigating the new enemy types and their bombardments. You go from a challenge that’s manageable to just all-out hell in some runs and it’s hard to not get discouraged.

A fix is on the way

Thankfully Beyond the Long Night developers have seen these complaints and are addressing them. In a recent update post, they outlined plans on how they will work to address a couple of things regarding difficulty. Firstly they have turned a number of options on by default instead of off. Things like the mouse leaving the game, highlighting enemies, and removing certain traps that were in your momentum pathway when changing rooms or one that got you stuck.

Highlight enemies option enabled

They are also planning on seeing if they can make a difficulty slider. While I personally don’t think that is necessary, if it ends up getting this game into more hands then I am all for it. The game is difficult but honestly addressing the issues mentioned above has helped and I see myself getting further than before.


Beyond the Long Night is a whimsical and difficult roguelite with a lot to explore. It has an interesting story that encourages exploration and discovery. Despite its cons there definitely is a developer behind this, listening to their players and is working to bring fixes that address these issues. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game, having put in about 8.5 hours at the time of writing this, and still haven’t beaten it or unlocked everything. While it may not reinvent the roguelite genre this is a solid entry I feel any fan could enjoy.

*Game Key provided by developer*

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