HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER！
On June 16th 2023, we’re getting another theme park construction and management simulation (CMS) game on Steam! Published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, and developed by Limbic Entertainment, it is the next contender in the genre after Planet Coaster. The game will be released for the PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S as well.
The Tropico series is probably the more wide-known series made by Limbic, and certainly they have their own share of experiences in developing CMS games. The game was first showcased on the big screens of Gamescom 2021, and it piqued the interest of us slimes back then, I mean, it’s the guys that made the Tropico series! It made us wonder how it would be like if they made a theme park cms game.
Let’s take a look at the game itself! The review this time around is conducted via a Steam code provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment, and the game may be tweaked before the actual launch!
We can see that after launching the game, the main game modes are separated into two, which are respectively the narrative main campaign mode and the sandbox mode to sate the creativity of CMS lovers. In the main campaign, the player will take on the role of someone who threw a paper plane made out of theme park blueprints, out of the window and hit a young girl Blaize who was soaring in the sky. And to your surprise, Blaize isn’t harmed by that, and starts admiring the blueprints the main character drew, and invites them to bring the designs into life!
The stage serves as the tutorial, where players get to craft a roller coaster among the concrete jungle to chase up to the paper plane. The actual controls guides the player to understand the gist of the controls slowly, and it blends in just great. The roller coasters in this game can be greatly customised, from the height, X axis rotation and Y axis rotation, all the way to the other fun aspects such as a cannon launching the riders from one part of the course to another, as well as a sewer/tunnel design that goes underneath the ground!
The second stage takes place in a theme park that is in the red, and the players will have to save it from being shutted down. The third stage is to build a theme park from an abandoned industrial area. We’re leaving the plot out to keep it fresh for those who wants to try the game, but it is worth mentioning that the game has options that feel very “tropico” like, that will affect the plot’s direction and ending. By having conversations with Izzy the financial manager, the wild dreamer Phil and architectural prodigy Sophie, you can shape and affect the storyline’s progression. The apparent changes to progression includes the sequence where different mechanics are unlocked, the theme of the themeparks, target audiences and so on. There might be more in store for us after the game is officially released.
Next, let’s talk about the gameplay aspects. Players will be able to make roads, public facilities, and amusements facilities. But the best ought to be the roller coaster crafting part! By getting the right height and angles, and as long as the roller coaster ride doesn’t fly out of the track, you’re done! It is indeed not that hard if your goal is to just make the ride move.
But, the tricky part lies at the exact same spot! If the roller coaster is too slow, it’s not exciting enough, and the AI customers can feel it when it’s not good enough. Thus in the process of designing, players will get to ride on with first person perspective, to feel the rides for themselves, and the background music actually reflects the excitement level of the ride! And when you hit the passing score, the music turns into a very joyful tune, and when it’s boring or not good enough, a very plain music will be played instead.
With the passing score tone in mind, I’ve spent two hours tweaking the tracks just to hear that satisfying tone once again, and I didn’t regret it at all.
Up until now, you might think that the core gameplay is not that different from the Planet Coaster in the past… right? This is where I’ll share with you the greatest difference and improvement they have made in this game, the Impossify feature. By hitting certain targets, the players can tweak the elements of the facilities or even the ride itself. In terms of roller coasters, players will have to hit targets such as making an elevator in the track, not exceeding the top speed of 120km/h and so forth, but sadly the tester slime this time around(me) is not exactly an architectural expert, but we can see from IGN on their comment to this certain experience:
I turned a milquetoast octopus ride into an insane and hilarious kaiju attack that threw park-goers into the air with reckless abandon.
Wowzer, I’ll try my best to unlock the Impossify feature when it’s released, when I get to play without time restraints. It just sounds too wild to skip!
Besides, in terms of management, players will have to hire cleaners, workers, and performers alike. But If the players decide to cut cost and not hire them, the effects will be reflected very directly into the game, for example if you don’t hire cleaners, the theme park gets dirty real fast(Just as how it is in real life). And it is certainly sad that players will not get to get their hands on to clean the park, just like how it was back in Zoo Tycoon, another game released 20 years ago.
Perhaps the development team wants the players to focus more on the building and managing side, and gave us another feature, the Heat Map. With the Heat Map, players get to see what are the urgent tasks to be attended to, and to plan ahead, resolving the situation. Other than that, the satisfaction level of the customers can also be seen in the Heat Map.
As for unlocking new facilities, other than the conversations in the main quests, players also get new amusement facilities or rollercoaster parts by leveling up and unlocking them on the research menu. Having different ways to unlock features always means more fun, right?
The overall performance and graphics of the game are smooth, running on a 3060+i7 laptop with full on specs, the game doesn’t stutter at all. But the game did crash once during a three hour playthrough. And luckily enough the game comes with an auto save feature, and I didn’t have to restart the whole game. The coaster tracks have some model clipping issue on closer inspection, it doesn’t affect the gameplay, but it does look odd sometimes. The shop placements and locations are somewhat hard to get used to, and it snaps to the other direction most of the time, which is a shame, but in essence its nothing gamebreaking.
In terms of the beta test version, the choices of shops and facilities are still limited, and may be improved upon the game’s actual launch, and this is what I choose to believe as of now. In this competitive year for the gaming scene, I think that Park Beyond is just ok for a game released in 2023. The roller coaster mechanics were fun and did certainly sparked joy with the promising Impossify feature, with the right tweaks and improvisations it certainly will make its name in the cms genre!