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Beneath a Steel Sky (DOS)

84
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Christina Nordlander (26)
Written on  :  Jun 04, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Summary

Sky of Steel

The Good

This is one of my favourite adventure games, hands down. I enjoyed it immensely. The graphics were rather dated, even at the time I first played it, but they transmit the dark and, yes, steely ambience of this world. An innocent man crashes a helicopter into a hospital to save his own life. A sinister employer forbids the workers in a power plant to wear protective clothing, from nothing but pure malice. For all the technology in the city, either victimising or pampering its population, its deepest root is a nest of living veins and nerves. How could I not love it? There seems to be an underlying motif of chairs... throne-like VR chairs, used for medical treatment, or transmission of information, or torture.

And the plot, gods, the plot! It is so twisty and loopy, I will not even start on it. Suffice it to say, it would do justice to a good SF novel.

And I liked Joey. In my right mind, I would hate a cute robotic sidekick, but the many witticisms and body changes of Joey proved one of the joys of the game. Plus, of course, he turned out vital to the ending.

The Bad

Cyberpunk doesn't age prettily, but that was not a problem with this game. It felt *real*. My problem, rather, was that it seemed to be two distinct games. The first sector (about up until Foster entered the church) is rather LucasArts in style, though with a darker background, more violence and a more acrid sense of wit. (Backtalking robot sidekicks, a Mr Burns-style madman in charge, and so on.) Howsoever, from the moment Foster finds the dead bodies, it turns into a deadly serious cyberpunk thriller. (See the death of Anita, the torture chair etc.) Now, I like both genres, but it seems like there is no way to bridge the gap.

There could have been more of it. More of the cold war against Hobart, more hints about Obermann, more city to explore. But that's not really a bad thing.

Also, this is a personal thing, but I would have liked it even more if Reich had stuck around a bit longer. Continually trying to trick a sadistic personal nemesis as well as a faceless corporation and a sinister electronic deus ex machina would have made the story even more interesting. Oh well.

The Bottom Line

An involving, baroque, dark futuristic city trip of wit and drama. A must play for all adventure gamers.