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Park Beyond – more uphill climb than thrill ride

Park Beyond’s opening is gloriously silly, as you start off with an introduction to the coaster system by building a ride to take you out of a fire escape, through courtyards, over buildings, and to a park entrance – via cannon. And accompanied by NPCs who are so obnoxiously cheerful they cycle all the way back round to being likeable again. It reminded me of being at a pantomime – I just had to buy in, even for the terrible villain who wants to build (gasp) car parks, instead of theme parks.

Park Beyond sets itself apart from other theme park games with the mechanic of “impossification”, making rides (and to a lesser extent, shops and staff) go “beyond” the usual, becoming bigger and dafter than real life. So your ride modules, in addition to loops and inversions, include cannons, jump ramps, bumper-boat transformations and punchy springs. You’ll get construction goals to include modules like these – or attain certain heights, or speeds – and when you’re building for a park, instead of through your own neighbourhood, these goals make up “hooks” that set the target audience and stats for your rides. There are puzzles in here, and even more when you decide to impossify a ride, which unlocks an optional third, even more outrageous hook – to go at a top speed of 140kmph, for example, or include three cannon launches.

The potential silliness of coasters is boosted by Park Beyond’s control scheme, which is much more about space than precision. Each new track piece is placed by setting down its end node, so wide curves or steep slopes go up in a single move, where trying to finesse anything specific requires trial and error without the support of finer tools. It’s very vibes-based, and for what Park Beyond is offering, most of the time I loved it. It works excellently for slapping a cannon in the middle of a ride, just less well for trying to build a steep drop that doesn’t fling everyone to their death at the bottom.

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