Legacies are an interesting thing. Various franchises are remembered for a wide variety of things, with many creators or people involved wanting to see their adventure until the end. Shenmue III made the bold choice to continue the adventure over conclude it, while others either fail to capture what made the original great or go down a direction that doesn’t pay off. It’s why so many reboots have failed, be it game, television, or movie, though every now and then we get something like Dexter: New Blood that potentially goes down the path players want. This is certainly the path Beyond a Steel Sky, the sequel to the ’94 cult classic Beneath a Steel Sky, needs to accomplish but with so much time and different expectations, can it achieve success in this landscape?
Beyond a Steel Sky starts with a rather basic premise. You’re introduced to a cast of characters, with a mysterious group and vehicle disrupting things by taking a child. Few clues are given, but the unique design makes it easy to identify. This prompts your adventure to find the child and learn what is going on.
Things start to ramp up once you arrive in a fairly established city. It doesn’t take long for the annoyances of the modern world to come into play. Plenty of red tapes, largely dictated by rules that make sense but lack the human sensibilities that happen all too often in our modern life. As you try to navigate through these problems, you find a couple of mysteries that suggest this place isn’t quite what it seems and paradise comes at a hefty cost.
While all of this works to build a decent foundation for Beyond a Steel Sky, it’s everything else that holds it back. For example, the initial cutscene is done in an increasingly common comic book style. Still, images are voiced over with general dialogue that explains the situation. This isn’t a problem per se, it’s the art style is very reminiscent of cheesy children’s picture books. Something about the style just lacks any type of personality that it almost feels offensively bad, by virtue of just being inoffensive.
Locations also suffer from rather limited things to see and do, topped off with dodgy voice acting. It doesn’t feel like anyone involved wants to be there and this absolutely takes away from the thrill. Something that absolutely hurts an adventure defined by the story itself.
Designs Certain Stand Out in their Own Way
Similar things can be said about the models as well. They look rather a low budget, which itself is not a negative, just their limited range and expressions can take players out of the moment. Thankfully, some later designs and ideas handle this better, it just hurts the initial moments.
Thankfully, progression starts to really expand on the world. For example, hacking gives players new things to explore and do, with the ability to somewhat impact the world. These sections aren’t overly complicated, but they do break the mold beyond going to a place to progress or talking to someone to progress.
Beyond a Steel Sky Review Verdict
Beyond a Steel Sky : In a lot of ways, enjoyment of Beyond a Steel Sky is linked to one's enjoyment of the core game and ultimately genre. It has some interesting ideas like hacking is a nice change of pace, but it doesn’t have something that transcends the genre like Steins;Gate has. It just doesn’t do anything different or well enough to stand out, with a story that requires a decent investment to pay off. Those who like this and are willing to invest will likely be happy, it’s just everyone else who might not. – Grant