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3D adventure thriller 'Beyond a Steel Sky' is out now for Linux PC

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Beyond a Steel Sky, the big 3D sequel to the much loved classic Beneath a Steel Sky is out now with Linux support. A long awaited sequel too, since the original was from way back in 1994. A long time between them of course, with Beyond a Steel Sky being a much prettier game in full 3D with nice WASD controls and an absolutely fantastic style to it.

What is it? From Charles Cecil, creator of the Broken Sword series, with art direction by Dave Gibbons, legendary comic book artist behind 'Watchmen' it's an adventure set within a dynamic world, populated by wilful characters driven by motivations that the player can subvert. In combination with a unique hacking tool, multiple solutions to puzzles emerge from player choices. Playing as Robert Foster, you attempt to track down an abducted child that leads you back to Union City, one of the last remaining mega-cities in a world ravaged by shattering wars and political meltdown.

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Beyond a Steel Sky had a lot to live up and it's always difficult to do what they've attempted here, to bring such a classic into modern gamers hands. It does set things up nicely with a great little comic-style intro, and the overall style of the game is fantastic. Being an adventure game, one with deep roots in the classic point and clicks, Beyond a Steel Sky may have been updated visually but it's still very much taking on the mechanics of the older game so you're hopping between conversations, solving a few issues and then repeating somewhere else.

The weird thing is how calm and chilled out Foster always seems, for someone in his position you would think there would be a lot more urgency about him but that's the feeling I got from the game and the pacing. It's quite slow going

This backtracking between conversations can be a little annoying, as characters tend to wander off so you're often left chasing the people you want. A minor point but still a bit frustrating. The modern interaction system is great though, giving you options that appear as you come closer to people and objects. There's plenty of quirky characters to meet, with some amusing events and conversations to be had. It helps that the conversation system is nicely streamlined too, with it noting when a talking point has something new with a little arrow that appears so you don't get stuck in a loop.

You're also going to be doing plenty of hacking to get around, which involves scanning the environment with a tool and then swapping around code blocks. It's not particularly difficult to do but fits perfectly within the setting. Simple and effective to progress through it but I do wish the game did more with it.

What's also quite nice is it has a proper hint system, that allows you to get an idea of what to do from the main menu during the game. It has a 30 second timer on it, so if you're truly stuck you mind need to wait a minute or two to get all the hints you need. It starts off somewhat vague and the more you click the more it gives.

It's come with a few technical troubles though while playing through before release. In the Linux version tested with an NVIDIA GPU I had it reliably crash every single time during the intro after starting a New Game, unless I made sure Vsync was on in the settings. That's sadly not the end of the technical issues encountered. Having "Detail Level" set to "High" seemed to break a bunch of shadows causing flickering black areas in lots of places, so I was forced to play it in lower settings. Those two things are likely Unreal Engine weirdness.

There's also cases of NPCs that like to try and walk through things including you, the game vanished a few times when ALT+TABBED away, a puzzle just didn't work on one of my saves causing a broken game and the list goes on. Speaking to someone I know reviewing it for Windows, it's clear technical issues are not limited to the Linux version. Lots of niggling issues that overall give it a feel that's a bit too rough. To Revolution's credit though, they promptly replied about some issues and are looking into them. On the side of performance though, there was no issue there for me. It remained smooth sailing 99% of the time minus a few loading hiccups.

Funnily enough, the idea of a sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky was talked about during the Kickstarter campaign for Broken Sword 5 - the Serpent's Curse. It was actually a $1M stretch-goal that wasn't hit so it's nice to see they delivered anyway.

It's a reasonably good game as a whole that could have been really great if a few of the rough edges were properly smoothened out. Overall though I enjoyed my time spent chatting with peculiar people, funny robots and hacking the city. The accents made me chuckle quite often because they're pretty over the top at times but they nicely play into it with some good voice actors.

You can buy Beyond a Steel Sky available now on Steam for £23.99 / $27.99 / €23.99 which is with a 20% discount until July 23. If you own Broken Sword 5, you're supposed to get an additional 10% off too.

Never played the original? You're in luck! It's not strictly required but if you have the time I would recommend it for the full backstory experience. You can actually play Beneath a Steel Sky easily on modern platforms if you wish to refresh your memory a little with ScummVM.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Naib Jul 16, 2020
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Installing right now
Raaben Jul 16, 2020
Ah, I totally forgot it was coming out this week. Well, now I know what I'm doing this weekend.
flesk Jul 16, 2020
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I thought it was coming out tomorrow, and I'm just about to watch a football match. I guess I'll have to stay up late tonight.

EDIT: It seems like the additional 10% discount is only applied if you bought Broken Sword 5 from Steam, and not if you got a key for backing the Kickstarter campaign. I'm not sure if that's working as intended or not, but for me it's totally worth it anyway for a game I've been wanting to play for years.

Last edited by flesk on 16 July 2020 at 6:50 pm UTC
slapin Jul 16, 2020
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Will buy now and wait for fixes.
Shmerl Jul 16, 2020
Why no day one GOG release? I see GOG doesn't even list it in the upcoming titles.

Last edited by Shmerl on 16 July 2020 at 11:17 pm UTC
flesk Jul 16, 2020
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I'm also having the crash on launch with Nvidia graphics that is mentioned in the article, and I have no idea how to enable Vsync. The game works well with Intel graphics though, although only on low graphics settings, which doesn't look all that great. Still enjoying the game a lot so far though, and I've just gotten into the city.
Naib Jul 17, 2020
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Odd, nvidia here an no problems at all.

its nice, definite feel of the original but how they pushed it into the 3D is a bit clumsy. sometime you are looking around to find retical hotspot and then it's a bit clumsy to move around.

That aside a nice investigative walk/run and click adventure. Just going to "my" home to find out who's ID I stole :)
TheRiddick Jul 17, 2020
Interesting, I hope its not using OpenGL...
kokoko3k Jul 17, 2020
Liam, how much uncapped fps do you squeeze out of it on your GTX1080 and at what detail level and resolution?

It is useful to estimate how the game will run on other users's systems.


Last edited by kokoko3k on 17 July 2020 at 4:50 am UTC
mos Jul 17, 2020
QuoteThe weird thing is how calm and chilled out Foster always seems
well this is in accordance with the original

but you'd think that relocating this feel into a 3d world would come with a few quirks. the total infatuation with strictly fully 3d fp richly-detailed world is not always good...
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