Preview: Beneath a Steel Sky for iPhone

Welcome to the Gap

Fifteen years ago, I was 15 years old, ambitious and filled with dreams. Most of these entailed the creation of those fictitious worlds that sucked me in. Adventure games presented me with both worlds of magic (far, far away), as well as dystopian, grim representations of OUR world. Beneath a Steel Sky (1994) belongs to the latter category.

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With references to Nietzsche, Huxley and Orwell, BASS came packed with intelligence, leaving us disconcerted by… hiatuses of thought. Of course back then, in The Netherlands, all we got from our English reading list was Watership Down. Don’t get me wrong: I felt sorry for those rabbits. However, I felt even sorrier for those who did not get their hands on a copy of Beneath a Steel Sky.

Your quest

The game takes place in a post-nuclear world, divided in an outside – the Gap – and an inside – a hierarchical city. Or is it the other way around? Robert Foster is a child of both worlds: he finds himself growing up in the Gap, yet feels something from the inside pulling him in.

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What or who this is and what happens next, are catalysts in Foster’s quest. Find out who you are, where you come from, who put you there and how exactly that fits into the bigger picture. Kind of like ordinary life, wrapped up in a shiny iPhone port of a classic adventure.

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This remastered version features new artwork by Dave Gibbons, a unique user-interface and high quality music. Unlike previous versions, you can use an extensive hint system to help you out.

Getting stuck is out of the question.

Full control

The new controls are unique: point-and-click has become tap-and…tap. There is no cursor on the screen, blue dots show points of interest instead. Although I played around with a beta version, the game certainly feels right. It translates well to the small screen and feels more effective than  ScummVM’s interface on iPhone. Let’s be honest: if you found this blog post you probably played the game under the popular engine.

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Beneath a Steel Sky flirts with visual styles that remind you of Metropolis and Blade Runner. The game was a huge success back in 1994 and seems reminiscent of that time. Revolution Software nailed the controls and fixes the ‘point’ issue (who needs cursors nowadays) which may pave the way for adventure gaming on the iPhone.

The game should hit stores, one in particular, in about a month. Until then,

BE VIGILANT

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