I didn’t start gaming until the late ’90s, around the end of the PS1 cycle. This meant that a certain era of games passed me by. The point and click genre was something I really respected, even as a kid. I tried to play Discworld as a little one but obviously, I was too dumb at that age. As I’ve grown older I’ve dabbled with titles like I Have Mouth and I Must Scream and the Dreamfall series and they’re great. When the code for Beyond a Steel Sky dropped on my lap, I was informed that it’s a sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky. Since it’s free on GOG, it would have been rude not to and I blasted through the very old school point and click title prior to starting the sequel. There’s many generations of gameplay improvements since then, so how does the sequel adapt to new times?
Taking place 10 years after the events of the first game, you play as Robert Foster who is living a peaceful life in The Gap. The Gap is a desert wasteland where the populous scavenge to survive and live under the shadow of Union City, a bustling metropolis abundant with high technology. Foster is enjoying his life with his friends and is enjoying a nice day fishing when his village comes under attack by unknown forces. In this assault, a child is snatched and Foster vows to find the missing child and his journey takes him straight back to Union City.
Watch the official trailer below:
I really appreciated how right from the outset, the game was very firm in its decision to stick to its classic roots. The opening is presented in a graphic novel format and the dialogue is delivered exactly like the OG title. It draws you in and hits you with nostalgia. It’s also important to know, you don’t have to play the OG title to enjoy this, there are plenty of references to it, but you’re all set from start to finish.
The plot itself is quite captivating and I think the heavy leaning on deadpan comedy really helps. It’s something the original did so well and it works here. Although there is serious subject matter, the balance of light humour prevents the story from getting dull. That being said, it does tend to plod quite a lot, there is a lot of lore dumps and long winding conversations, I enjoyed them and they’re par for the course for this genre, but some people might find it tedious.
While the original game was a pixel hunting, obscure puzzle kind of point and click title, Beyond takes cues from the modern era. It plays like a Telltale title, with a 3D camera replacing the static style of the original. There is dialogue abound here, and characters will talk your ear off. Of course, puzzles are important and there are plenty here, though most of them boil down to ‘find item A and place in slot B’. They’re a little more in-depth than modern-day Telltale puzzles and fall in line with something like Broken Age, Grim Fandango, they’re fairly easy to figure out. There’s no combat, this game is about dialogue and puzzles and it works well enough. I wish it was a little more challenging and there isn’t a wealth of dialogue choices that shape the narrative, but Beyond sets out to do what it does and everything is done competently.
I love cell-shaded games, so many studios avoid the style and when it’s done right, it looks great and Beyond proves this. The environments look brilliant and this is bolstered by the wonderful art direction. Character models do suffer a little, but they look fine. The voice acting is really good too. It feels like a 90’s game, except the voice actors are making a conscious decision to sound like that instead of them just being bad, because they do a great job here. The soundtrack was solid, despite not being very memorable and there weren’t any issues with performance.
I really enjoyed my time with Beyond a Steel Sky, it doesn’t join the pantheon of my favourite point and click games like Dreamfall, Still Life, I Have No Mouth, Grim Fandango ect but it kept me invested for the 6-7 hours it took me to finish it. I would have liked to have a little more say in the story and different endings based on choices, but I’m happy with what I was given. If you’re looking for a classic style adventure game, I would certainly recommend Beyond a Steel Sky.
Beyond A Steel Sky was reviewed using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Microids Developers: Revolution Software Release Date: 30th November 2021 Reviewed On: PS4 Also available on: Xbox Series X/S, PC, iOS