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Beyond A Steel Sky: 90s cyberpunk adventure gets a sequel

Dystopic pointer-clickerer Beneath A Steel Sky is very much in the 90s PC pantheon, even if it’s not necessarily the first name people reach for when turning all misty-eyed about using x on y. With a creative team that included Broken Sword’s Charles Cecil and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, while its puzzles don’t exactly stake a claim to immortality, its oppressive vision of tomorrow certainly left an impression in an age when so many of its peers were all zombie pirates and frontier psychiatrists.

A certain vintage of PC types have been baying for a sequel since 1994, and hey, whaddaya know? It’s finally happening – as revealed by Apple, of all megacorps.

There’s a brief glimpse of Beyond A Steel Sky, as the sequel is known, at the start of this video promoting Apple’s new gaming subscription service (which is halfway a rival to Google’s Stadia streaming thinger), and halfway a rival to the download-based likes of Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access):

As you can see, it’s moving from 2D to threeds, and while obviously that stuff’s for marketing purposes, it doesn’t appear as if being made with Apple-funded mobile in mind is going to undermine how sharp it looks. PC and console versions are due out at some point this year, in addition to the iThing version.

Variety has a fairly lengthy Cecil interview up, in which he expands on the suggestion that is not a trad. point’n’click (which is also why they’re not calling it BASS 2). He also namechecks the likes of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture as an inspiration, in terms of this being about wandering through and admiring fascinating places rather than purely using rubber chickens on pulleys. I’m down for that, in theory.

He also suggests continuity is not the first priority for this sequel, which is a relief – I grow weary of the chokehold of canon around pop culture’s neck. Cecil also goes into the levels of political commentary in the game and its plot, and cites Terry Gilliam’s seminal Brazil as a major inspiration.

Hard to get a sense of how it’ll play, really – are we talking point’n’click, walking sim+plot or something in the Telltale vein? I’m glad it’s happening, as though BASS was and is a bit of a bear to play, it was always a theme and aesthetic deserving of more exploration. I just hope it doesn’t lean on too many tired 1984 tropes.

No platforms or release dates yet, but hopefully our ever-watching electronic eyes will reveal more to us soon. If you want to get all caught up in the meantime, the original Beneath A Steel Sky has long been available for free on GOG.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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