• Beyond a Steel Sky


  • Graphic Adventure


  • Revolution Software


  • Revolution Software

Release Date:

  • June 26, 2020 (macOS, iOS, tvOS), July 16, 2020 (Windows, Linux)

On Wikipedia:


  • macOS, iOS, tvOS, Windows, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

I didn't really expect Beneath a Steel Sky to get a sequel (I don't think anyone did), but at the same time the original game left quite a bit open about the world and made room for a sequel, but such a sequel should've come in the late 1990s or early 2000s. With its 2020 release, Borderlands-style graphics, and somewhat obtuse puzzles, Beyond a Steel Sky seems like its desperately trying to stand out in a world that passed it by.

But how is it, really? Ten years have passed with a notably older Foster living in "The Gap" once more (he hasn't aged well for a decade). While fishing with one of the villagers, Max, and Max's son, Milo, he witnesses a giant metal machine emerge from the water and kidnap Milo, leaving Max comatose. He manages to follow the machine back to Union City, where his adventure started all those years ago.

Anytime you hear words like "Minister of Comfort", you KNOW something's wrong.

There is a retcon fairly early on—the android that Joey was cloned into was named Ken, yet Foster and everyone else calls Ken "Joey". Even Foster forgot that when Joey was transferred into an android, he became a lot nicer. This is what I meant in my Beneath a Steel Sky review (how "Robert's snarky robot buddy" gets "a rather disappointing personality change by the end of the game". I do like sequels that actually address those hanging questions from the last game. This is one reason why Mother 3 let me down because there were so many questions from EarthBound...and Mother 3 not only didn't answer them, but failed to answer its own questions.

I had to consult a walkthrough a more than a few times, which is fine since I don't like trying everything on everybody. There's even a bit of a false lead: you meet a work droid fairly early on that has the exact same power supply you need to power up a truck to get inside the city. The work droid moves around a bunch of crushed aluminum cans (think WALL-E, but not friendly or cute) and he (it?) will refuse the can of soda you give him because it's not empty. The solution has nothing to do with the soda can you have, you use your hacking tool to speed up a conveyor belt and distract him. In fact, collecting cans of Spankles is completely useless. Speaking of which, I did enjoy the Spankles exhibit in the Museum of New History, it sounds a bit like the screechy voice Weird Al sometimes does. I don't know who voices it. (Probably not Weird Al).

Contrary to appearances, Union City does feel like a theme park, on the inside.

For the purposes of this review, the android version of Joey/Ken will be referred to "Android-Joey" even though it's "Joey" or sometimes "Savior Joey" in-game). Fairly early on, you'll find that although Android-Joey is worshipped as near diety-tier, the story of Android-Joey in the museum (complete with AdLib bits of Beneath A Steel Sky music) leaves out quite a few details, which come in handy when you get a better sense of what's going on. Because Android-Joey is still called Joey, it is a bit confusing when you recover the circuit board and reactivate the original Joey. (I was correct in my deduction, by the way). It makes sense if you remember Beneath a Steel Sky—he uploaded Joey into an android body, leaving the original circuit board intact.

Ten years time must have been an eternity because not only does Foster look rough, everyone talks about how ten years ago (when Android-Joey started to rule) was such a long time ago, like it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. Every adult man and woman should have a pretty clear idea of the past, I mean, I'm writing this review in 2024 and 2014 was practically yesterday (and by that time my first run-through of Beneath a Steel Sky was a few years prior). There's really not TOO much stuff different. Sure, even COVID was a major event that changed the world afterward, but I can still drive on the same roads, and see much of the same world around me, on the surface level. Sure, there's some new development in parts of town, but that's about it.

Rather than going ahead and spoiling the ending, I will say that one annoying bug I noticed is the hacking mechanic used for puzzles requires some stuff to be in the right place, and one of the NPCs kept walking into a machine that was supposed to be spinning around. The game is relatively stable on a technical level otherwise—the camera often flips out during conversations.

Is it even a spoiler to say this guy is a bad guy?

There are even a few ways Foster can kick it, none of them require a reset but none are also satisfying either. There were a number of ways that Foster could die in Beneath a Steel Sky, whether going into a radiation area unprotected, tentacle monsters, or just getting shot. The other thing I noticed is that there's almost no music, something that Beneath a Steel Sky had, and I LIKED that music...and any music is FROM Beneath a Steel Sky. The epilogue is a bit lengthy but whatever.

I have to also wonder who is this game even for. The slow pace and puzzles will probably turn off modern gamers, the clunky movement and bizarre interface will probably turn off old-school adventure gamers, and if you're a fan of Beneath a Steel Sky you probably won't like the way the story goes or the entirely different tone.

You can read a more detailed plot analysis or some additional thoughts on the game on why I gave it a "Flawed" instead of "Solid" like I originally planned.