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Park Beyond's array of simulation systems is more dizzying than its weird rides

We need to make the kids drink more cinnamon coffee

The entrance and exit to a starter rollercoaster in Park Beyond
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

For the past while, I've been playing a closed beta build of Park Beyond, and let me tell you, I am very bad at it. I can just about (by the skin of my teeth) make a profitable park, but my god, that park will have the worst layout you've ever seen in your cursed, vomiting in the bins at a Disneyland life. But look, if the park works, it works, right? The shareholders can't complain!

Thing is, much like with the internet or your mum's relationship with the binman, theme park simulators can really change while you're not paying attention. While part of Park Beyond's selling point is making literally impossible rides via the aptly-named method of Impossification (an upgrade to rides you buy by spending units of amazement gleaned from your slack-jawed guests, in order to strap a canon to a rollercoaster), I really was not prepared for how simulation-y the simulation bits are.

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I wrote in a previous preview about the detail that goes into building coasters in Park Beyond. Well, that extends to everything else, too. In earlier works of video game theme parkery, your businessing extended to increasing the amount of salt on your fries so people would by more drinks. Park Beyond laughs in the face of such childish frolics. Here, there are occasional fads for different types of toys or flavours of coffee, so you can adjust prices accordingly. Rides have different scores for amazement, fun and profitability, and you can finely tune the price of admission for each ride until you hit the sweet spot of maximum profit to minimum balking from customers.

Speaking of customers, they themselves come in three flavours. There are families, adults and groups of teens, all of them coming in clusters with names. You can view the park through different heatspots, checking for tiredness, thirst, hunger, etc., as well as seeing which rides are falling out of favour. And on top of that, different rides appeal to different demographics, so the Pirate Ship ride appeals to families, but the Kraken hits more with teens. You can give your rollercoasters similar hooks: maybe it's super tall, or has at least four inversions; maybe it's a starter coaster for families so it has no inversions and never goes over 80km. Even the different shops hit with different demos, and each time you start a new park you have to decide what kind of park it's going to be. If you decide to cater to adults and teens, for example, you'll need thrill rides and a bunch of coffee shops, because adults like coffee, as opposed to the family beverage of choice, the hot chocolate.

Impossifying a giant swing ride in Park Beyond
A swing ride post-impossification in Park Beyond
R: The impossification menu showing what improvements a ride will get; L: an impossified swing ride that has now become a terrifying brush with death | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

All these feeds into your park rating, because the more your visitors enjoy the park, the more research levels you can unlock, meaning more rides and more themes. These include standard things like Western or Candyland, but also fun ones like a clockwork DaVinci theme. The kids love Leo. Like, sure, other things feed into your park rating, a large one I've found being cleanliness (oh, there is also a whole staff management screen, don't forget about that). But the main thing is: don't be building boring kiddy rides in your teen adventure park, okay?! Okay.

Now. This is all quite disorientating. Particularly when you discover that you can change the colours on rides with as much loving care and attention as a Jedi painting his robot hot pink. This includes the colours of different lightbulbs, and can even build modularly to really make your park your own. But the thing is, I think you can engage with this as much as you'd like to, or not. This was kind of the angle the developers were going for - that it was a game that could satisfy people who just wanted to build an amazing business, or a very lovely theme park, and you don't have to fiddle with all the buttons and doodads.

An old west themed pizza shop in Park Beyond, that looks like a miniature mine with a pizza light on the front
The food vendors are possibly my favourite thing in this game because they are all on point as recreations of themed food joints in parks i.e. ridiculous | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Sadly I, a 34-year-old adult, have the attention span of a raccoon in a hotdog factory, and will dive headfirst after the nearest delicious thing I see, which is to say that I am neither targeted player in that pitch. But I have still managed to build a park that fuctions, even though I have, on multiple occasions, only realised there was a retail trend I should have taken advantage of when I saw the notification that it was over. And sure, my park may be ungainly, have a floorplan that makes no sense whatsoever, and have a pink and blue balloon ride next to a Western pizza mine. But it works, dammit!

Park Beyond is out on June 15th 2023 on Steam, and RPS Premium Supporters are getting a code drop tomorrow for the same beta build Bandai Namco provided me here.

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