Beyond A Steel Sky Review (PS4): The Crowbar’s Choice

Robert Foster is back, as is Union City in this Beyond A Steel Sky review for this PS4. But despite it's positive persona, all is not what is seems in the city...

This is the fourth rewrite of this Beyond A Steel Sky PS4 review, and it’s no better this time around. The game has had its ups and downs and now that I’m a couple of trophies away from a platinum, feel I’ve experienced enough of it to update this write-up.

Beneath A Steel Sky by Revolution Software is arguably one of the best point and clicksEver. It was one of the few ‘modern’ adventures that opted for the Sierra model of killing off the protagonist should you make a mistake, so there was a lot at stake. 

Besides the stunning visuals, courtesy of Dave Gibbons (yes, him), I remember it being bloody hard and on floppies that equalled my height. That, and Leisure Suit Larry Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places), took an age to finish. This was before the internet, kids. If you haven’t played it, you can get it free on GOG.

Beyond a Steel Sky PS4 Review - Night life
This is the night. Source: Screen capture

Beyond A Steel Sky is very much the same, again, with impressive visuals. Using a cell-shade like aesthetic comparable to Borderlands and Mad Max due to its Australian setting, we control Robert Foster directly with the controller and point his gaze to the area we wish to interact with, rather than using an on-screen cursor.

Ten years after the first adventure, Foster remains in the Gap, and Joey runs Union City. However, after a nasty kidnapping (when are they ever nice?), Foster finds himself back on the city’s doorstep, and naturally, he’s keen to look up his pal. How times have changed.

It was no surprise that Beyond A Steel Sky is a challenging game. Other than the puzzles, interacting with NPCs mid-flow was often problematic with them wandering off while you’ll selecting an item from your inventory, inadvertently pressing a button to ‘keep their attention’.

It’s not a big deal, but frequent enough to mention, as well as characters walking through one another, or nowhere to be found. My first real issue was a scene featuring a jumper, not Chrimbo related, but a logical puzzle to ensure an NPC’s safety. The situation made sense, yet it required the perfect response. It must have taken me a good 30 minutes to an hour to get it correct.

Beyond a Steel Sky PS4 Review - I, Robert
I, Robert. Source: Screen capture

A pattern emerged in Beyond A Steel Sky and it was almost always related to the logic side of things from a hacking device Foster employs. Pressing R1 brings up said device, and anything hackable can be tinkered with, often giving amusing results. Unfortunately, 80% of the time (made up statistic), it’s a requirement to progression, and many of these solutions meant transferring one command to another ‘vessel’. With the joysticks, this can be cumbersome.

Beyond A Steel Sky is an excellent example of how to make a point and click adventure

But…the story makes up for it, as does Foster. He’s never been a standout protagonist, but he’s fun to play here, seemingly voiced by a Jimmy Kimmel impersonator. Both he and Alonso were great, as was the subtleties throughout. Beyond A Steel Sky features a plethora of Easter Eggs where I’m sure I’ve missed many. Dry humour is my bag, but Foster’s delivery can be a little too clinical that it’s easy to miss lines like “Look at all those chickens”, which had me laughing aloud.

Perhaps it’s the nods to veterans of the original who will get a kick out of it most, and without giving much away, the friendship between a man and his robot has always been the hook for me. Early on in Beyond A Steel Skyis a museum where you can reminisce on all things Joey and the original game, but fear not if you’re new to this universe as it’s a standalone game, and you don’t need to have played the original. 

Like Sam & MaxBeyond A Steel Sky is an excellent example of how to make a point and click adventure. While the former has illogical puzzles, the latter is the opposite and, in many ways, is a unique experience compared to its peers. For me, the hacking element, a.k.a. logic, was a little too difficult at times and stole the beat away from the story, but without it, it wouldn’t be the title it currently is.

Beyond a Steel Sky PS4 Review - Walk the walk
Walk the walk. Source: Screen capture

And what is that title? A well-designed point and click adventure, albeit an evolution of the genre, that not only appeal to fans of the original but newcomers too. I have to say that I found this particularly challenging as a veteran of point and clicks. This isn’t a simple rubber chicken with a pulley solution, nor is it pixel hunting – it’s easy to miss something. But that’s not remotely negative – the challenge is good. 

Was this fourth rewrite worth it? Probably not, but if there’s anything that’s remained consistent about all variations, Beyond A Steel Sky is an excellent adventure that’s worthy of your time.

Keep a smile on your face.