Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered Review

The appearance of Beneath a Steel Sky on iPhone has created a paradox or two. Here we have a game that’s 15 years old but set in the future, featured on a device that wouldn’t look at all out of place in its own sci-fi setting. This updated edition features both remastered audio and a comic-book style introduction lifted straight from the original game’s manual. Beneath a Steel Sky fits the iPhone perfectly, with its point-and-click gameplay merging seamlessly with touchscreen controls for adventuring on the go.

Beneath a Steel Sky doesn’t let us down on any score and, in truth, seems just as relevant now as it did in 1994. Telling the story of a future repressed by corporations and wracked with smacks of fascism, you take on the role of Robert Foster, previously ostracized from city life after growing up in the wilderness (otherwise known as “the Gap”) but now back and on the run from the authorities.

Like all adventure titles, there’s a mystery or two afoot, and Beneath a Steel Sky has lost none of its charm over the years, managing to combine step-by-step puzzle solving with a sense of humor often omitted from modern games. Set in a beautifully animated 2D world, the game has you interact with the various objects scattered around the screen and talk to the game’s cast of characters to uncover clue after clue. The game’s endlessly witty script and fixation with folk absorbed in their own worlds sets it apart from the crowd.

But you have so much to live for!

Exploring this world involves slowly moving your finger around the screen. Objects you can interact with are marked off with blue circles, and tapping on them then allows you to either examine or use them. It’s also possible to combine anything in your own inventory with the game’s architecture, holding your finger down on the item and then dragging it to wherever you need it. It is, surprisingly, a very simple affair, the odd slip of your finger inevitable, but never fatal.

That’s because Beneath a Steel Sky is much more a case of thinking, rather than doing. Even the simplest of its puzzles can dominate you for a day if you let it. An early skirmish involving a wrench ate up the better part of our evening. Perhaps a sign of the times, this remastered edition does come with a tips system. The next goal is marked off in a menu, and a series of clues or directions is offered, without going into too much detail at first.

It’s a feature that might antagonize some of Steel Sky’s hardened fan-base, but one perfectly pitched at the iPhone generation. It also serves as the perfect example of how to bring an established classic to the App Store, enhancing, rather than altering, its original form.

Art by Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen.

Beneath a Steel Sky never stops feeling like a series of paradoxes, however. Though full of gadgets and gizmos that could only exist in a far-flung future, this is an adventure with plenty of subtle nods to troubles past. Yet despite a somewhat sober setting, it comes with a script full of laughs and lighter moments, even the most inconsequential of conversations raising a smile or hinting at each character’s own little universe.

These are traits that have, until now, seemed out of reach for many iPhone adventures. Beneath a Steel Sky somehow feels bigger and bolder than its rivals, raising the bar and highlighting what others have so far failed to achieve. Perfectly suited to its new home, Revolution’s remastering of an already established gem serves up point-and-click play nearly unmatched on the App Store. This is a story rich and layered throughout, gifting iPhone gamers with a trip back in time that feels like a grand step forward.

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    Game of the Month, October 2009: Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

    This month we’re honoring a game that some have played before on the PC, perhaps as long ago as 1994. But for all those newcomers who first played Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered last month on the iPhone, we’re proud to recognize it as one of the very best adventure games you can buy in the App Store and our October Game of the Month.

    In October we played a handful of really great games, like twin soccer giants FIFA 10 and Real Soccer 2010, the masterful racing game 2XL ATV Offroad, and the beautiful high-res Earthworm Jim remake. Even Doom Classic snuck in there the day before Halloween, scaring us by how good it is.

    But the top nod goes to Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered for a few key reasons. First of all, it’s the best-controlling adventure game on the system (sorry, Monkey Island). Interactive items in the environment are marked with a blue circle when you hold down your finger, making it remarkably easy to see what you can pick up and use. This makes navigating the world of Beneath a Steel Sky feel effortless– a must for any type of game.

    Second, the iPhone version improves the experience with a generous help system, ensuring that nobody will get stuck and frustrated while playing, and gorgeous cinematic cutscenes by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. Check out this opening cutscene from the game, and tell us it doesn’t get you excited to start playing.

    Finally, Beneath a Steel Sky has a storyline that must not be missed. The dystopian vision of a city-wide corporation that treats its citizens like cogs in a machine, and an outsider “saboteur” from the gaps in society, is simply riveting. We can see why this game has endured for so long in the minds of gamers, and this iPhone version brings it to a brand new audience.

    Our runner-up for Game of the Month may not be quite as original. It borrows heavily from Super Mario Bros. and also resembles our August GOTM runner-up, Gomi. Still, Soosiz is a vibrant platformer that features spot-on controls and winding level designs that stretch on and on. If you’re looking for a lengthy, absorbing platformer, Soosiz is one of the best.

    Congratulations to developers Revolution and Touch Foo for their incredible games.

    Revolution’s Beneath a Steel Sky Makes Its iPhone Debut

    While many people’s point and click playtime doesn’t venture much beyond the LucasArts Monkey Island franchise, rival Revolution Software, famous for its Broken Sword series and cult classic Beneath a Steel Sky, has built up a serious fan base of its own over the years. It’s the latter title, widely accredited as being a landmark release when it hit the shelves back in 1994, that’s set to make a big splash on the iPhone.

    Announced back in the summer, Revolution head Charles Cecil revealed earlier this week that Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered was just about ready to launch on the App Store, which it has this morning. Cecil used an exclusive screening of the game at BAFTA’s Access All Areas event in London to proclaim the new iPhone edition as “better than the original”.

    ‘The adventure genre is undergoing a renaissance,’ Cecil said in a press release when the game was announced. ‘Digital distribution has changed the game for developers, and it’s great to be able to communicate directly with our audience. Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered is just the start of what we want to do.

    ‘We’ll be announcing more Revolution Pocket titles soon-‘“ some of which people will recognize, others which will be wholly original. But our aim with whatever title we release is to ensure we offer a different type of game to those currently available, illustrating that modern handheld games don’t have to be disposable-‘“ they can be engrossing, entertaining and intelligent.’

    Indeed, Cecil’s desire to avoid simply repackaging a classic without tailoring it to suit its new format is admirable. The remastered version promises new animated movies from Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons, in-game tips, and the title’s highest ever quality audio, ensuring that even hardened Steel Sky fans won’t be able to resist picking up the title once again.

    But it’s the prospect of more point and click games from Revolution, with the iPhone’s touchscreen seemingly lending itself to such play, that’s also grabbing the limelight. There are rumors that a remake of the original Broken Sword (which recently popped up on Nintendo DS in an all-new, extended form) is also being considered, setting many gamers’ pulses racing. Cecil has also told Pocket Gamer that a full-scale sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky is potentially on the drawing board. Gibbons himself added to the hype by confirming that the franchise has ‘by no means ended.”