Beyond a Steel Sky
Love it or hate it adventure with interface issues.
Beyond a Steel Sky
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beyond a Steel Sky is an adventure game available on download for Apple Arcade. It's the sequel to a classic adventure title released in 1994. The game's slow-paced and encourages exploration and puzzle solving, but those puzzles are challenging, though. Problems with the touchscreen interface being responsive make the game even more challenging, which could frustrate some players. While there's a sense of foreboding and bodies scattered in some environments, there's no traditional violence in the game. And apart from a character using tobacco, parents won't find anything objectionable for pre-teens and beyond.
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What’s It About?
In BEYOND A STEEL SKY, you play as Robert Foster, tasked with tracking down a child who was kidnaped by a mysterious enemy. Your journey takes you to Union City, one of the last big cities in a steampunk world that has been ravaged by war. The population swears it's a utopia, but you'll quickly learn the AI overlord isn't what it seems. The game's filled with characters you'll have to interact with and question carefully to solve the game's puzzles. Action's presented in a comic book fashion, with art direction from one of the creators of the Watchmen series.
Is It Any Good?
You're unlikely to find a more divisive game than this adventure anytime soon. Fans of Beyond a Steel Sky's cult hit predecessor -- Beneath a Steel Sky -- will be thrilled to return to the game's world (and might overlook its flaws because of that). Old school adventure game fans, who don't mind having extensive conversations with characters and challenging puzzles might also find some charm here. But if you're coming in with no knowledge of the world and anything less than a devotion to the genre, you might find it lacking.
The game's long on exposition and story -- and tells it at a slow pace. And speeding past the conversations is spotty. That'd be fine if the voice acting were stellar, but in this case, it's not. The readings veer from flat to overly emoted, depending on the character, never settling into a realistic tone. And that's jarring when you hear them so frequently. The game's also full of bugs. Characters will often try to walk through you, walking in place until you move or not facing you during a conversation. The controls themselves are imperfect as well. Focusing on an object to interact with it can be challenging at times and movement is often as jerky as the game's animation. That said, there are some redeeming qualities. The game lets you solve some of its puzzles in multiple ways. And the visual style works perfectly with the storyline. While it's not as funny as it thinks it is, Steel Sky does try to break out of the gloomy cyberpunk genre from time to time. You might fall in love with it. You might hate it and quit after just a few minutes. But you're definitely not going to be uncertain about how you feel about this game.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about using logic to solve problems. If one method doesn't work, how do you decide upon another?
Where is the line between loyalty and blind following? How easy is it for loyalty to slip into blindly following along without ever questioning why things are being done?
- Platforms: Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Revolution
- Release date: July 8, 2020
- Genre: Adventure
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Use of Alcohol, Violence
- Last updated: January 13, 2022
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