Beyond a Steel Sky is a sci-fi adventure sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky, a point-and-click game that was released 26 years ago. Developed by Revolution Software and published by Microids, it is currently available on Windows PC. PlayStation, XBox, Nintendo Switch. For the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
Beyond a Steel Sky takes place in the very distant future where there are mega-cities scattered throughout a world that has been ravaged by nuclear war and disaster. You start out the game in Union City. All the cities within this world live within their own laws and regulations and are essentially run by massive corporations. On the other side, there are groups that live outside of the main cities in the wastelands, known as The Gap. In The Gap you can find tribal communities that live by a law of their own and survive by bartering, trading and hunting. Beyond a Steel Sky is set ten years after the events in Beneath a Steel Sky and you take on the role of Robert Foster, a Gaplander who although once lived in Union City when he was a young boy, events led to his exile and he then grew up being raised by a Gapland tribe. A child from the Gapland has been abducted after a brutal attack which leads Robert Foster on a journey into Union City to investigate and hopefully find the young child. Beyond a Steel Sky has no concern over stepping out of its comfort zone and really addressing big issues in the sense that whilst the massive utopia that is Union City is stunning on the outside and people appear to be living a flush life; there is a very dark and oppressive underbelly to be found in Union City and to eventually find the missing child you need to unravel these dark conspiracies.
First and foremost, I really enjoyed the storyline throughout Beyond a Steel Sky. It had me thoroughly engaged from the beginning. The dialogue was funny and had certain sarcastic tones throughout so I really appreciated the sense of humour. I find this to be one of the reasons why I really appreciated Beyond a Steel Sky so much; the dialogue is essential to figuring out any of the puzzles presented to you, so after a while the dialogue could really have felt like a real chore to go through, but the writers absolutely nailed all the dialogue and kept me engaged for my entire playthrough.
Equally as well, you need to be really careful about your decisions and the ways in which you solve the puzzles because they may have an impact later on in the game for better or for worse. I really like games that leave key decisions in the players hands because it caters for just about any moral standing, personal beliefs and playstyle and leaves a lot of scope for doing a few playthroughs of the game. It took about 12 hours to beat Beyond a Steel Sky and with so many different story choices that can be made you could easily do multiple playthroughs and have different results each time meaning that it is great value for money!
The puzzle element felt relatively well balanced and all the answers to the puzzles were usually right in front of you as long as you have fully explored the area and paid close attention to the dialogue from characters; however despite this ease, it still felt significant and logical rather than puzzles just becoming pure filler material. Another thing is, the difficulty of the puzzles didn’t remotely inhibit my enjoyment of the story and I never really found myself getting frustrated at anything. If I couldn’t figure something out usually there was just a creative solution that I just hadn’t figured out yet and required a little bit more exploration. Whilst the game doesn’t really hold your hand and provide objective markers for where you need to go, there is a good hint system that allows you to get a really good but not overly revealing hint about what to do. Usually these are all just common sense and rather than telling you exactly what to do it directs you to somewhere that would be useful.
Overall, I really enjoyed Beyond a Steel Sky. The visuals were excellent, the gameplay was functional but above all the story was incredibly engaging and had some real depth for the player to dig into and debate over. Furthermore, the puzzles were excellent. I had never played its predecessor, but I really feel like this is a series that a lot of work has gone into and as a new player, it made me hope for perhaps a remake of the original.
Lj’s Rating: 4.5 drones out of 5.
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