October 26, 2020

Beyond a Steel Sky — Different Body

Beyond a Steel Sky — Different Body, Same Soul.
Beyond a Steel Sky — Different Body, Same Soul.
On 26 Years in the making, .

Revolution have tasked themselves with a follow up to the classic — Beneath a Steel Sky

What’s changed in that time, and has it changed for the better or has the world moved on from the classic “Point & Click” adventure.

Let’s find out in Beyond a Steel Sky

Robert Foster, the protagonist of the first game, returns from the first outing and the comic book frame introduction brings us up to speed with Foster’s activities since his escape from Union City and LINC (the half-mechanical, half-organic being that ran it) ten years earlier.
Foster has spent that time making his home away from technology in the GapLands surrounding the city where he lives a happy, earnest life within a small society.

He’s soon forced to return to Union City after his young friend

Milo, is kidnapped by a huge robot and taken somewhere in the sprawling metropolis.
Taking full advantage of the advancements in graphics engines, is well presented, extremely colourful and very pretty indeed.
Powered by Unreal Engine and utilising a Cel-shaded approach made popular by Borderlands is realised in full 3D with detailed models and animations moving away from the old 2D style of its predecessor.
The colours really pop and the palette is extensive, it’s accentuated by art deco motifs plastered generously across the looming skyscrapers and buildings making up the city.
There’s plenty of it to explore, although you do revisit some key locations fairly regularly throughout Foster’s journey and it’s nice not to get lost (and bored) in a sea of browns and grays for a change.
Union City is alive, whether it’s the numerous interfaces, scanners, people or indiginous bird population, there is plenty happening around you even when you are stationary.

Union City’s local transit system

whizz past periodically adding to the feeling of a bustling metropolis rather than a sparse shanty town.
That does sometimes cause both minor annoyance, or frustration, when you finally figure out the right course of action to find that the chap whom you need to speak to has wandered off and it takes you a few minutes to track them down again.
So … How to shift this truck.
The bright, utopian veneer presented by Union City quickly fades as you dig deeper into some of the narrative.
Underneath it.

The Council starts to come off as a big brother

almost totalitarian threat hiding beneath the surface dispensing qDos and Sparkles to keep the population in line.
Sparkles; an equivalent to an energy drink; starts innocent enough as you are offered a free can outside the city.
It then starts being pushed on you the further you progress and the connotations of it being laced with some sort of endorphin are pretty clear when a health scanner suggests Foster drink it to improve his mood.
Offering both a classic mouse-driven interface as well as full controller support, caters for both players with very little detriment to either choice.
The controller driven interface relies on camera focus to interact with characters, objects and other machines.
Without a pointer however, it can sometimes cause some challenges with objects close together and selecting the right one.
In conversation it has an advantage since dialogue trees are mapped to the eight directions on the thumb stick in a wheel format with confirmation mapped to the action/confirm button.   Back after a 26 Year break.
has a strong legacy to support when it comes to the puzzles and problems presented to the player.
The final aim or objective in each area tends to be fairly obvious once you spend a little time investigating.
As with its predecessor though things are not as obvious as they first seem; the path of smaller challenges and puzzles to get to that objective however can be quite frustrating and could lead to many players using a trial and error approach to progression taking the fun out of the game.
instead tries to avoid that by employing a tips system that can be activated by the player and builds in its offering from a subtle nudge to a full blown step by step guide ensuring you never lose your patience.
Puzzles aside, there are a few bugs within the game but nothing that can’t be patched out in short order but at this stage some break the game and prevent progression.
Very early on one of the characters needed to build your scanner gets stuck on her walk around the car park and that made it impossible to interact with her.
A reload from the most recent save didn’t fix the problem but quitting out and reloading did.
Not the end of the world twenty minutes in but a few hours later it would have destroyed a few hours of hard earned progression.
Ominous on the outside, sinister on the inside.
After several years of absence, .

The point and click adventure feels further revived in Beyond a Steel Sky

Graphically excellent with a strong narrative driven story, it’s a well thought out progression to a licence which has laid dormant for far too long.
A few glitches and bugs don’t detract too far from the enjoyment of Foster’s reunion with Union City and sets a bar for these types of games moving forward.  Beyond a Steel Sky is available now on PC and Apple Arcade.
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