It begins as few Wednesday afternoons do - Alice is sounding the news klaxon and I haven't even managed to chip through the flinty film that shudders like a tenebrous membrane atop the canteen gruel. This is usually a quiet time, the hivemind sighing into synchronised sleep, but something has excited the nerve centre of the whole operation. A message cylinder shoots out of the pneumatic tube system that webs the building like veins (and can be heard to pulse warmly during storms) and clatters onto the table. "You're going to want to see this STOP Beyond: Flesh And Blood STOP Mechs riding inside other mechs STOP Set in the ruins of future Manchester STOP." Alice was right. If Manchester was under attack, I needed to see the damage for myself.
If I squint just the right way (and look out of the window), I suppose I can recognise bits and pieces as being a bit Mancunian. It's all so overgrown and lined with skyscraping architecture that it's hard to pick out the specific iconic parts that the Manchester-based development team have included. But then there's this;
Albert Square is home to the town hall, which is a lovely slice of Neo-gothic. In fact, it's a building plucked straight from The Metal Age, with medieval trappings hiding all the technological trappings of the Victorian age in which it was constructed. We're talking advanced fireproofing construction methods, gas pipes disguised as banister rails and hollows within spiral staircases for ventilation and transfer of heated air around the building. I bet it has secret chambers and I bet they're awesome.
Now I want a Thief mod set in Manchester but I'm left with all of these mechs and monstrosities instead. Here's what we can expect:
PLUNGE into an urban war zone, rip through enemies in an high-impact shooter on your mission to regain strategic control of the city.
RESTORE the signal uplink to the Tree of Life and work with the U.G.R. to deploy and repair additional towers.
FIGHT any forces that stand in your way; upgrading your mech with high-spec weapon systems.
USE your Tactical Combat Frame (T.C.F.) to gain intel by hacking into security systems and solving strategic puzzles.
UNLOCK diverse locations, advance your abilities, and fight grand scale battles beyond anything you've ever encountered before. From the moment you start playing, this becomes your world.
A demo is due next month and in the meantime Beyond: Flesh and Blood is seeking Greenlight votes. I'm hoping it's something like a smaller scale Earth Defense Force. I would definitely sign up for the EDF Salford Division.
Quite why future Manchester isn't simply City 17, constructed around our very own Citadel, I don't rightly know.