Park Beyond: Going Hands-On With Impossible
Look, I’ll say it right here and right now. There is always room in this world for another great Theme Park management title. Ever since the original Theme Park, which I convinced my parents was educational so they would buy it for me, I have been in love with this niche sub-genre. But the well has been a little dry of late. Planet Coaster came out a few years ago now and while there is no doubt it was great, it was a little too much on the management side and less on the whimsy than I would have liked. In comes Park Beyond, a new entry in the genre that looks to add more whimsy than you can poke a fairy-floss-covered stick at.
Park Beyond makes things very clear on this point from the very start. Your first challenge as a park designer is to create a rollercoaster from your apartment block to the entrance of the nearby theme park. It is a great way to lead into the game and give players some hands-on with the incredibly robust and intuitive rollercoaster design tools that are the star attraction. I mean it when I say, I have never played a game in this genre with such a powerful, yet easy-to-use design tool. Everything snaps together, there is a wonderful test tool that allows any problems to be quickly identified and everything is designed to take the fiddly nature of building death-defying rides and smooth out the experience to minimise frustration. There are a host of loops, corkscrews and crazy turns, all pre-built that can be added with ease and everything is logical and clearly spelled out so no one should get lost when diving in.
But Park Beyond is more than just a rollercoaster builder. This is a fully fledged business sim and unlike most of the genre, it has a fully fledged story. It isn’t much of a story, but it is a nice connection between each campaign mission and allows players to make some choices on how these missions will play out. Do you target kids or teens? Will your theme be Cowboys or Aliens? What is your focus, family fun or extreme? All of these choices play out in some cheesy, but fun cutscenes that feature larger than life characters and over-the-top dialogue. It is fun, silly and totally appropriate to the game.
Once the campaign missions kick-off, the smart design choices once again take the fore. Everything and I mean everything about this game has been carefully considered as to how to provide players with the most intuitive experience possible. From creating paths to brand-new rides, everything just works without any frustrating placement issues or pathfinding. Creating a row of new shops that automatically connect together like a fast food Voltron is wonderful and the ease at which I could get janitors and entertainers to patrol the park was just a blessing. So many of these types of sim games put people off with the need to micromanage every aspect, every detail, but with Park Beyond the devs have realised that busy work isn’t fun and have automated a lot of it without ever reducing the power the player has in creating their perfect theme park.
I feel like this design philosophy comes from the fact that the game is being released on consoles at launch too. Micromanaging with a mouse and keyboard is one thing, but trying to do it with a controller would be nightmare inducing, so taking this path and automating things that really didn’t need player input, means that players can focus on the important parts, like managing budgets, building rides and pleasing guests. As a result, I feel like Park Beyond has real potential to be a breakout hit and attract players who wouldn’t usually be into this sort of business sim. In a game that clearly identifies smart design choices, this is potentially the biggest one.
Another key difference between Park Beyond and other theme park games is the willingness to embrace the crazy. Imposification the game calls it, is the act of amping a ride to physics breaking levels. For example, the octopus ride no long spins carriages around, it throws them through the air, the rollercoaster starts with riders getting shot out of a cannon onto a piece of track 50 meters away or a pirate ship that jets into the sky. It goes hand-in-hand with the game’s inherent silliness and allows players to go truly crazy, especially when creating rollercoasters. I can’t wait to see what the community comes up with in the future, because the creative potential is enormous.
In all, I am increadibly hyped for Park Beyond. It is shaping up to be a truly wonderfuly entry in a genre I have loved for decades. The great look crossed with the seriously impressive design philosophy has me feeling ultra positive about its upcoming release. But don’t just believe me. You can try it yourself with a closed beta coming on the 9th of May through to the 19th. To register simply go to the Park Beyond website here: