It’s been over 2 decades since the release of Beneath a Steel Sky offered players a post-apocalyptic adventure they could get lost in. Now Revolution returns to that world with a new story penned by Charles Cecil, creator of the Broken Sword series. Worth the wait, or has it spent too long in the wasteland? Lets find out
You play as Robert Foster as the game opens with you heading out fishing with some friends. A child in your party ends up being abducted by a machine that crawls from the lake you are at, which leads to Robert vowing to bring him home. The trail you follow has led you to Union City, the last mega-city in a wasteland ravaged by wars, with a possible reunion with an old friend on the cards.
Having the story overseen by those that worked with the predecessor means continuity is high and there’s also plenty of nods to the events in the previous game. Personally I can’t really recall much of the original game, it’s been MANY cycles since I played it, so the quick story refresher at the beginning was welcome – newcomers don’t really need to play the original first. The story itself is pretty good and well presented with full voice acting for the most part, and can be influenced a little by you, it’s likely to also help one overlook some of the issues that crop up when playing.
The game offers up a cel-shaded aesthetic that surprisingly doesn’t look out of place considering the futuristic setting, think along the lines of Borderlands instead of JSR. At first it looks a bit bland as you start out in the deserted wasteland, but the presentation quickly picks up as you approach Union city. – the scale of the city was surprising when I first arrived. Characters within the world tend to be stylised in some way, some are a little OTT, but they never look out of place within the colourful world that’s been built.
Performance may seem a little odd given the visuals as it looks to require more than expected. 4K/60 was a problem for my PC (R51600/16GB/RX5700XT) with even the odd stutter when some settings were lowered. Thankfully 3840×1620 is available which meant my preferred ultrawide option was supported and the reduced resolution pretty much fixed any framerate issues. Given the visuals a drop in resolution isn’t so bad and is probably a better option than dropping settings.
Like it’s predecessor, Beyond a Steel Sky keeps the point & click aspect and adds a little exploration to the mix. You’ll generally find yourself having to complete a puzzle or finding a particular item to move things along and are given full freedom within the area to do so. For example at the start of the game you need to enter the city but don’t have a citizens ID. You recall passing a girl earlier stealing the ID from a corpse before a bird takes off with her device, and upon noticing the bird in the next section you’ll need to get the device from it somehow to enter the city. Sounds simple, but its not always like that. Think Telltale games and you’ll have an idea of what to expect.
There are some problems though. The general gameplay is fine, it’s interesting enough to keep the story going without bogging you down. Problem is the game has some technical faults that can get in the way of said progress. First playthrough was ended by a bugged out puzzle a few hours in, not even a save game load would allow me to get past it – had to start all over again. This review has come late simply for waiting on patches before attempting again. Thankfully the second attempt hasn’t been stopped by a bug, tho there is still the odd quirky moment here and there to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Beyond a Steel Sky carries on the story of its predecessor and marries it a more modern version of the point & click gameplay that is sure to please those that have waited years for a continuation of Beneath a Steel Sky. Unfortunately technical issues have a way of putting a downer on that happy reunion, tho it has improved since release, which could be enough to put newcomers off more than anything.
Think of this game like a great Sc-Fi novel, only someones spilt coffee on it and now some of the pages are hard to read due to being stained or stuck together.