Revolution Software released their adventure game on Apple Arcade and now PC via Steam. Take a look at our Beyond A Steel Sky review from the PC version.
Today we’re taking a look at Revolution Software’s sequel to the 1994 point-and-click adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky. It features the first game’s protagonist Robert Foster and his synthetic side-kick Joey. The new game’s setting takes place in Union City some 10 years later where a massive Utopian city fills the skyline. However, all isn’t what it seems as Foster investigates kidnapped children from the city’s outskirts. Cue Beyond A Steel Sky which released on Apple Arcade and PC.
From the offset, players familiar with the original game will notice a far more vibrant look to the visuals and the fact there is full 3D movement this time. It’s a much brighter affair and plays to the game’s theme of Utopian happiness. For the record, we dived into this game with no extensive knowledge of Beneath A Steel Sky, so if that’s a concern, then it’s safe to say that whilst some references might not have the same impact, the game is thoroughly playable without knowledge of the original.
Revolution Software developed the Broken Sword games, which also adopted a hybrid 3D control scheme in the later releases. However, in this game rather than rely on static animated backgrounds, players can free-roam each location as if it were an action game. Interestingly, the same mechanics exist here in typical adventure fashion. You-know-the-drill, pick-up items, talk to NPCs, solve puzzles and marvel at the wonderful visuals. To be honest, the opening hour feels a little slow-paced but once Foster enters Union City proper, events begin to ramp-up to more interesting levels.
As mentioned, Foster has to deal with an assortment of human and synthetic characters in his quest for answers. Players can push their questioning with the possibility of repeating an answer or learning something new. It’s quite optional which is a nice feature. However, as with many point-and-click games some elements are cryptic in nature leaving for some head-scratching moments. luckily, an expansive hint system exists for those truly stuck, but the real reward comes from working things out without looking for guidance. At least this game provides solutions within the game rather than relying on things like Youtube Video walk-throughs.
One of the most interesting gameplay mechanics on offer is Foster’s ability to hack into the system using a scanner picked-up early on in the game. This becomes a vital tool for completing the game’s many puzzles but it’s a really neat way of interaction with the city often with humorous results – trying to keep this review spoiler-free here. It adds another layer to the point-and-click formula in keeping with the game’s sci-fi theme.
In terms of visuals, Dave Gibbons, legendary comic book style transitions well to video-game format. Character models look great and there’s some neat finer details especially when playing in 4K. However, it’s the breadth of the city views which give the game an illusion of an expanded feel despite most areas being fairly confined. The depiction of a controlled society with tailored adverts and sprawling billboards is impressive. Union City certainly looks the part. Sadly, there are a lot of NPC clones but the reality is they are there for effect rather than any substance. In this pre-release build a number of bugs exist which will hopefully be ironed-out in the retail release. The game offers a fair amount of bespoke options, but for the most part the game runs smoothly at max settings and in 4K using our RTX 2080 Ti (not quite holding 60 fps at all times though).
Audio is top-notch overall, with Foster acted well alongside the supporting cast. Music is also pretty epic but in a orchestral cinematic fashion rather than a full-on synth soundtrack.
We managed to play through Beyond A Steel Sky in around 12 hours according to Steam. There’s obviously plentiful conversations to have but we felt like we had accomplished pretty-much all there was to see here in the one playthrough.
Is Beyond A Steel Sky worth a look then? With excellent visuals, a gripping investigative thriller story-line and a cast of interesting characters, it’s a neat sci-fi game for adventure fans. We’d have liked to have a little more freedom in Union City to explore off-the-beaten-track as one complaint, and perhaps a few more dialogue choices with story impacting results. Aside from that though there’s a cool adventure game here that’s fun-to-play, not too taxing and keeps you hooked throughout. Be warned though, there’s not a hint of action gaming here at all so don’t wade in expecting any kind of combat.
Score 8/10 (review code supplied by publisher).