Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beneath a Steel Sky [GAMES]


I was stoked several weeks ago to come across Good Old Games, a site that makes classic computer games available for download in a high-quality and reasonably priced manner (for both PC & Mac).  They even offer some games for free, so I jumped on a copy of Beneath a Steel Sky, a game I remember hearing great things about and seing lots of back-cover comic book ads for back in the day (one of which contains a screen-shot that can really help if you get stuck*).

The premise of BaSS is that you're an outlander in a somewhat dystopian future ruled by corporations and city-states.  A government helicopter lands near where you live in "The Gap," kills all of your family and friends, and kidnaps you.  But on the way back to the city, the helicopter crashes and you have to figure out how to escape and get back home.  Along the way, you uncover dramatic secrets behind why you were taken and who runs the city.

Operationally, the game is a "point and click" adventure with a really good story and a cutting sense of humor.  I will say it was hard, either because I'm out of practice with these types of games or because some of the necessary actions weren't quite intuitive: there were four or five times I finally had to resort to a walkthrough in order to make further progress.**  I also had a bit of a hiccup with the ending,*** but overall it was a really satisfying experience and a memorable game.


*  The ad depicts you swinging from a rope between a ledge and the sign that denotes the security headquarters.  Basically, you need to make a grappling hook by combining a cable with an anchor broken off of a statue.

**  Here's the places where I got stuck (that I can remember):  (1)  You need to put the putty (plastic explosive) on an empty light socket to cause an explosion; (2) You need to use a security card to get past a normal, non-electronic door lock (like how private detectives always use credit cards in old t.v. shows); (3) I overlooked the freakin' tongs hanging on the wall so that I could pick up the flesh in the boiling water); (4) You need to return to LINC space multiple times with the different ID cards, because each card has different features.

*** When you get to the final room and find your father plugged into LINC, the machine lets him go and your father says LINC has lured you here to be his replacement.  Then Joey (Ken) appears.  This is one of the very few places in the game where something bad happens if you linger for a few seconds, but there was a loud conversation going on around me and I couldn't hear what was happening, so I saved it there and came back later.  Every time I loaded up that save game (the only one I had reasonably close to the end), the "bad" ending of the game immediately started up (LINC forces you to take your father's place).  I was only able to watch the "good" ending (where Joey/Ken takes control of LINC) on YouTube.  A bit of an anti-climactic way to end the game :)

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