Enter the world of Robert Foster, a dark, grimy city with rampant corruption from where he must escape. Having seemingly lost his parents as a child when they tried to escape from the city with him in a helicopter that crashed, he is found and taken prisoner by the city authorities. As fate would have it, the chopper in which he has been taken prisoner also goes down and so begins the adventure.
With definite Orwellian influences and reminders of the classic Blade Runner, Foster must voyage to the ground floor of the skyscraper he finds himself on, avoiding the unmerciful guards, making friends, and solving puzzles on the way. Death lurks around every corner in this point-and-click adventure, so a cool head and plenty of saving is advised. Although point-and-clicks were very popular around the time Beneath a Steel Sky was released (1994), this one stood out from the pack with its extremely well-balanced mix of problem solving, exploration, and dialog.
The controls are about as intuitive as you can get, with need only for the mouse. You examine objects with the left button, and interact with the right, and as you progress through the narrative you will pick up objects and information with which to solve any pending puzzles. At times retracing your steps is essential and can become a source for frustration if you aren’t entirely sure of what is expected of you next. This is offset by the sheer satisfaction of completing each task and delving further in to the plot of the story.
In terms of graphics, Beneath a Steel Sky fares pretty well against titles from the same period, and with original hand-drawn scenery, it has stood up well to the test of time. Anyone who has played the game will know what we mean when we say prepare for some corny jokes, the kind that leave you groaning in agony. What’s more, originality jumps off the scale at some points, such as when you plug your-self in to a virtual world and try to solve some trippy abstract puzzles!
Without doubt, this game has influenced many others that have followed through the years, and now that it’s available for free, can serve you many hours of quality game play and represents one of the key players in gaming history.