Beyond a Steel Sky is the long, long awaited sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky — the critically acclaimed 1994 point-and-click adventure game. This return to Union City — a towering metropolis surrounded by wasteland in a distant future — manages to recapture the wit and charm of its predecessor, but its move to 3D environments and exploration dilutes the solution-finding gameplay to a disappointing degree.
Once again, you play as Robert Foster — a tech-savvy guy who’s found a peaceful life alongside nomads of the aforementioned wasteland. Foster’s dream existence is shattered, however, when his village is attacked by a mysterious organisation, and a child is stolen away. Our unlikely hero tracks the kid back to — you guessed it — Union City, and from there, it’s a case of unravelling the city’s darkest secrets.
The writing and voice acting ranges from decent to great, but as alluded, Beyond a Steel Sky is let down by its puzzle-solving. Foster is given a hacking device early on, but the actual process of manipulating technology is barebones at best, and it doesn’t help that the vast majority of conundrums fall back on the same hack-based logic time and time again.
As a result, scenarios can start to feel quite samey. The process of slowly exploring your surroundings, piecing together a theory, and then whipping out your hacking device for yet another tinker gets old by the end, and so Beyond a Steel Sky never reaches the rewarding highs of classic point-and-click titles. That said, there are still clever moments here — sudden realisations that’ll have you feeling proud of your brain’s processing power — but they’re largely fleeting.
The 3D environments just don’t have the same magic, either. Beyond a Steel Sky’s visuals are basic, and its locations are all a bit sterile. And that’s a shame, because at its core, this is a heartfelt and often charming video game. If you’re an adventure fan, Foster’s second foray into Union City is fun enough while it lasts — but it struggles to be anywhere near as memorable as the classic titles that it draws from.