Game Reviews

Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

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Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

It's hard enough telling a good joke once, but when more than a decade passes by and that same quip still elicits a chuckle you know you have something solid.

Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered galvanises run-of-the-mill gameplay with hilarious writing that makes this adventure still entertaining 15 years after its original release. More could have been done to brush the dust off this ageing title, but it's still a standout game.

As wastelander Robert Foster, you're taken on a harrowing journey to the futuristic Union City run by a sentient computer system. Taken from his outback home into the heart of the steel city, Foster desperately seeks for a way out as the artificial intelligence known as LINC mercilessly hunts him down.

Wit is the weapon of choice in Beneath a Steel Sky, its sharp writing driving what is otherwise an unsurprising adventure game.

Foster finds himself in increasingly bizarre situations with larger-than-life characters that are more funny than fearful. Conversations are so thoroughly entertaining that you can't help but look forward to speaking to each character you come across. Jabs from robot sidekick Joey are particularly great, his biting sarcasm creating some of the game's most memorable moments.

No question about it, the writing is the strength behind this touch-enabled re-release. While remarkable for its time, Beneath a Steel Sky plays like any other point-and-click adventure.

This isn't necessarily a criticism. That it so comfortably sits alongside the adventure games of today highlights how far it surpassed many of its contemporaries.

The point-and-click formula has evolved in the 15 years since the game's original release. Fussy puzzles and pixel-precise controls are no longer seen as challenges, but as flaws. Thankfully, in this remastered edition of Beneath a Steel Sky measures have been taken to address both to a respectable degree.

At any time, hints for solving puzzles and progressing are available from the Pause menu. Having a hint system so easily accessible makes it difficult to get stuck, which in turn allows you to move through the adventure without getting frustrated.

Touch controls replace the original point-and-click scheme, though the execution is only functional and not fantastic. Holding a finger to the screen highlights objects within the surrounding environment that can be observed or interacted with by tapping associated icons. You can also move Foster by double-tapping the screen.

Unfortunately, you often have to reselect icons because the game fails to register your input. Instead of letting you move to examine an object, the icon blinks and nothing happens.

That Beneath a Steel Sky has touch control quirks is unsurprising, but the minimally enhanced presentation raises alarm. Without a touch up to the graphics, they appear muddled and nearly blurry in spots. In some cases, it's hard to make out some objects because the screen's size works against the hand-drawn backgrounds.

An option to play with revised visuals - much like The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - would have been ideal. Leaving the current original presentation intact should be an option as well, but a 'remastered' version should have boasted more improvements than this. New animated cinematics and improved audio at least help toward that end.

Fortunately, there are enough laughs to cut through these complaints. Beneath a Steel Sky remains as entertaining as it was 15 years ago, even if these laughs could have been showcased in a better overall package.

Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered

Tempered by minor control quirks, Beneath a Steel Sky remains as entertaining as it did 15 years ago, galvanising the adventure gaming resurgence on iPhone
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.