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Beyond A Steel Sky

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 14 - 2020

A long awaited adventure game sequel.

 
Way back in 1994, during the heyday of the point and click adventure, Revolution Software launched Beneath a Steel Sky. While the game never reached the dizzy heights of popularity that some other games of the era reached, Beneath a Steel Sky seemed to hang around for ages, and I would imagine anyone who has been playing PC games, or point and click adventure games, for any amount of time will have the game in their library. Jump forward to 2020 and players can once again step into the boots of Robert Foster in the sequel, Beyond a Steel Sky. After a short excursion on Apple Arcade, Beyond a Steel Sky is about to launch on PC, offering the same humour and setting, albeit looking very different in Unreal Engine 4.

 


 
I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending for the first game, but if you haven’t finished it in 24 years, you probably won’t any time soon. So, basically, the first game saw the hero Robert Foster, leave the futuristic Australian Union City under the control of his AI companion, and head off to live the simple life in the Outback. Beyond a Steel Sky moves forward ten years and begins with Robert’s peaceful life being disrupted by the kidnapping of a child from his village. Ever the hero, Robert sets off in pursuit and soon arrives once more at Union City. During his time away, Union City has changed and there is something wrong, and so the rescue mission quickly becomes more about uncovering a conspiracy and solving the cities problems. First up though, the player will have to get into the city.

 
Beyond a Steel Sky keeps to its point and click roots, just with a much more modern point of view. The core gameplay will involve roaming around a relatively small number of different locations, this time around with the freedom of 3D environments and direct control over Robert. There may only be a small number of areas to explore, but players will be moving back and forth, solving puzzles and finding plenty of NPCs to talk to, allowing the game to progress.

 
From the puzzle point of view, Beyond a Steel Sky offers a nice variety of different head scratchers. There are the typical “find the right object” style of puzzle, including some that seem totally obscure, in keeping with the traditions of the point and click genre. Items that can be interacted with are easy to spot, avoiding any form of pixel hunting. There are other styles of puzzle, including a recurring hacking system that works by allowing the player to swap around instructions for automated systems, which can not only prove to be the solution to a problem, but can also provide some pointless laughs. Often times the solutions to puzzles can be more simple than the player is expecting, but those who are struggling will have access to a hint system that ensures the player is never stuck for too long. The hints are fairly straight forward to understand, but players are limited by a cool down to the hint system, so they can’t just rush through on hints alone.

 


 
When not solving puzzles, the player will be spending their time in conversation, looking for solutions, finding leads or simply just learning more about this world. There is a lot of dialogue in the game and while most can be simply glossed over, the possibility of an important nugget that will be needed further down the line suggests that players should be paying attention. The dialogue is really well written and is packed with charm and the occasional dose of humour, which does make it easier to take everything in. As the game only runs for a handful of hours, those with a short attention span will not have to strain themselves too much, and revisiting conversations is always possible to refresh the facts.

 
Despite the dozen or so areas, the city feels expansive and quite alive. The environment visuals are really nice, and Union City feels like the sort of place that is ripe for exploring, which is why it is a real shame to have such a limit to the number of areas. Still, what is there is a joy to wander around. When it comes to the characters though, it is a slightly different story. The comic book, cel-shaded style is nice and suits the genre, but the lack of emotion to be found in the models can be a little jarring. Main characters have more emotional diversity than the standard by-passers, who all manage the deadpan stare with skill, but even these more involved characters have a very limited range. None of this is helped by the occasional graphical glitches that range from mouths not moving to characters passing through other characters. It’s nothing too egregious, but it is noticeable.

 


 
The wait for Beyond a Steel Sky may have been long, and the sequel may have turned up when the point and click adventure game is perhaps less popular than it should be, but the fans who know will be glad for the eventual arrival. Despite some technical issues, the game has managed to take everything that made the first game enjoyable and apply it to a more modern audience. Those who played the original game may struggle to remember what happened after all these years, but will be just as welcome in Union City as the newcomers. For adventure fans who want their adventures to stay in one place, Beyond a Steel Sky on PC is worth checking out.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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