952nd played so far

Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC/Amiga
Year of Release: 1994
Developer: Revolution Software
Publisher: Virgin Interactive Entertainment

I know Revolution Software’s games mostly from the Broken Sword series, of which I’ve played the first four and backed the fifth – I still need to play it at some point, when we’ve got more time for an adventure, and when I’ve been able to play through the third and fourth entry together.

Beneath a Steel Sky, their second game, was released for free in 2003 and is fully supported by ScummVM, which makes for a good introduction to the system. For that reason alone you have no excuse not to play this, and so that’s what I ended up doing – just after, it turns out, the release of the sequel Beyond a Steel Sky.

Our Thoughts

Of course Beneath a Steel Sky doesn’t hold up to the grpahical standards of Broken Sword, although the jump they make in two years is quite big – these fit in with the earlier LucasArts games around the Monkey Island time.

In the dystopian world of the game, you have grown up dwelling in the wilds but get captured at the start of the game to be brought to the Union City city state. You escape as the helicopter crashes and make your way through the city as you try to escape, but also find out more about the city this is set in.

The game is pretty much divided into four acts as you travel down the city – the utilities layer first, with the workers locked from going further, and going to the more affluent as you trick your way into going down. It’s a good way to split up gameplay, slowly opening more options, while you get used to the area. It works quite well as a gating mechanism while keeping your options open. The areas are all small enough as well so the game doesn’t take too long – it took me a long afternoon to finish it, which felt enough.

The interesting but sometimes frustrating feature is that the character wander when it’s worth it – they go in loops around their area, so you sometimes need to catch them at the right moment. There are only a few moments where that really matters, so it mostly works to add a bit of life to the place, but it makes for some minor puzzle variation in it.

Final Thoughts

I don’t want to say much more about the story, but it felt worthwhile and building up quite well, while the final puzzles were tricky enough to warrant that build up. It’s another good adventure game on the list, even with some body horror and weirdness that not everyone may appreciate. I think the later games by Revolution are better, but this is a great step already.