Monday 24 June 2013

Beneath a Steel Sky (PC Review)

A defining moment for both Revolution as a studio and the point and click genre, Beneath a Steel Sky (BASS) follows the story of Robert Foster who is abducted and finds himself inside a huge city of tower blocks overseen by a super computer. Alone apart from Joey- a personality on a circuit board who can be placed into any available robot shell. You must find out why you where kidnapped and try to escape the polluted metropolis and return home to the wasteland outside the city, known as 'The Gap', where you were brought up by a wild tribe.

Beneath a Steel Sky is remembered for many things, most people find a conversation early on in the game provides the high point, three simple sentences delivered so well that it is rumoured the production team lost weeks of work because of them (as they were too busy rolling on the floor with laughter). Those lines are simply-

Technician- Where did you get that robot?
Foster- I built him, you like it?
Technician- Its crap son!
(It sounds better in the game)

Needless to say, BASS is full of style and the unique humour of Revolution. The cityscape is a mixture of industrial smoke, rust and general grime realised through the use of various tones of brown, green and grey. Backgrounds are mainly static but do the job well. However, the colour palette and static backdrops can mean the title looks drab a little too often. Then again, you are in a soulless and heavily polluted industrial environment.

The main injection of life comes from the many brilliantly voiced characters you come across on your travels. As has become one of the studios strengths, the use of local dialects from around the British isles is used to full effect to turn people into comic caricatures. This clever use of dialect quickly turns every conversation into something special. It makes no difference if it's a brummy police officers or the hard faced, beaver skin coat wearing, factory boss, things are always made that little bit more over the top and hilarious by accents complimenting a nigh on perfect script.

This means that when you get stuck on puzzles the humour value of what would otherwise be a mundane conversation keeps frustration levels low and the will to progress strong. This is important, as BASS contains a number of illogical puzzles and finding small objects on the screen can prove near impossible (the putty on the floor anyone?)

Even though Beneath Steel Sky has a number of faults, and the control system is not as easy as later adventure titles it really doesn't matter. The excellent story, script and character design still allow the game to live up to the lofty status to which it is so often held.

Without question this is one of the best examples of point and click adventuring around. Any fan of the genre should have made their way through this Cyberpunk styled gem a long time ago. For those that haven’t tracking the title down has been made much easier now as it is available for free on Revolutions website.


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