Now, I love Revolution Software and its games. Having been a fan since the 90’s when I was a kid, me and my older brother having played their most important games including Broken Sword 1 and 2. By the 2000’s they were taking new directions, with “In Cold Blood” and a new style to the Broken Sword Series, taking big risks as the new gaming generations came along. They rode many highs and released some of the best point-and-click adventure games ever, including Beneath a Steel Sky. One game that was almost lost to time but managed to get a sequel after 25 years.

Is Beyond a Steel Sky worth the wait or should Revolution just focus on another Broken Sword game? (Or a sequel to Lure of the Temptress or In Cold Blood?).

What is Beyond a Steel Sky?

Beyond a Steel Sky is the long await sequel to the classic and often cited masterpiece Be-neath a Steel Sky. A revolutionary point and click adventure which helped inspire a generation of other titles in the boom of the genre throughout the ’90s. It was a game that didn’t leave very many loose ends and could’ve worked as a stand-alone game. Revolution Soft-ware then moved on to their record-breaking series Broken Sword and other classic titles. So a sequel was never on the cards it seemed, until now.

After 25 years, Revolution Software has finally decided “Yeah, we can make a sequel to one of the most beloved and underrated adventure games of the 90’s”. A very interesting, and bold move that could’ve been misjudged easily.

I was lucky enough to personally play a demo back in 2019 at London’s EGX and was impressed with what I saw, but also a little wary if the sequel was even valid.

Beyond a Steel Sky is set nearly 10 years after the first game, and we see the return of Rob-ert-Foster who has become an outsider since his departure from Union City. He spends his time living a peaceful life, enjoying the small pleasures he can get and helping those in need within the wildlands outside the megacities known as the “Gap”. However, he is pulled back to Union City through a series of events that results in the kidnapping of a close friend’s son.

Robert, returning to Union City, a place he helped save over 10 years ago has changed drastically, being a beautiful utopia on the surface. But deep down, underneath the skin of the city, lies many dark and unsettling secrets. Shady figures await in the shadows, missing children and many blind eyes being turned as Robert conduct his investigation. With the help of an old friend, it’s up to Robert to find the root of evil in Union City.


Revolution has always been the forerunner of rich storytelling, confident plots, and entertaining characters with wholesome and compelling dynamics. Basically for gaming, they produced pure Hollywood material fit enough for a major Blockbuster. And Beneath a Steel Sky was clearly a shining example of the writing talents of Charles Cecil, one of gaming’s most renowned writers and creators.

Beyond a Steel Sky opens with a gripping introduction that draws you into both the world and the story. With Robert witnessing the kidnapping of his friend’s son in the Gap and being the only one able enough to track the kidnappers down. Robert decides to follow the trail and soon runs into the outskirts of Union City, a place he and his close friend, many years ago helped save from tyranny.

Speaking with the locals (all of whom are very colorful and nifty) Robert learns not all is well and the governing rule is keeping close tabs on everyone, including Robert it seems once he enters the city. Players will explore the beautiful, yet dangerous world of Union City to set things right and find out what happened when Robert left 10 years ago.

Beyond a Steel Sky does indeed start with a sucker punch right into the gut, but like most other Revolution games, it then decides to take a slow burner approach for the next few acts of the story. The mystery is set up, the stakes are realised, and players will need to engage with the world to learn more. Investigating its many intrigues, oddities, and denizens who range from comical saltire to charmingly deranged and monstrous.
The world, characters, and lore are all very captivating, with the plot having excellent pacing, character engagement, and a lot of lore that is oozing with depth. Dialogue is witty and sharp, while the world-building has plenty of gravitas, reeling you in with both its visuals and history.

What really shines through in regard to the story for Beyond a Steel Sky are the themes and underlying messages, which truly reflect society today. Showing the world having an over-reliance on technology, how certain groups of people will generally shut off the rest of the world and its problems, and more importantly how the advancement of technology, more certainly AI, can lead to great and troubling outcomes. Charles Cecil and the team clearly have a lot of thoughts on the modern world today and where the current path might lead us, while also looking back on the good and bad aspects of the past, both figitivly and literally in the game.

Plus, some of these clever little nods actually become part of gameplay, woven into certain setpieces and objectives, making the experience even more richer and thought-provoking.

When old meets new

What can lead some people off has always been there since Revolution took the dive from 2D to 3D. Now back in 2000, we got In Cold Blood and it was a game that split a lot of people, new and old fans alike. Revolution had kept much of the formula from previous games, both good and bad aspects, but upped the scale of the games, to include bigger and more detailed worlds. But their games were always about checking every crack in the wall for key items and facts. Doing so in a massively completed and large environment can indeed lead to some issues.
For Broken Sword 3, which was another stab at the 3D environment with the same formula, they toned down much of the scale, and it worked with the complex investigation style gameplay. Beyond a Steel Sky has pushed forward and now with a big open world, does the same formula from the 90’s work?

Yes and no...

I feel the world and characters are completely genuinely likable and players will gain so much by speaking to people and learning more of the world before them. But there is also the side of tediousness, where you will go back and forth, repeating the same steps and checking the same items to find something of use. The world is quite big and detailed and there are plenty of characters to speak to. Along with a slow and often clunky main character who handles about as well as a shopping trolly with one broken wheel … You can see some tedium settling in.
But thankfully, with a useful hint system and the world/story being quite a good motivator, you can look past these problems. If you like the story and style of gameplay of course.


Visually speaking, Beyond a Steel Sky is a wonderful-looking game. Revolution has realised the proper way to use the Unreal engine and push it enough to create a world that’s both visually stands out much like a graphic novel, but also have enough of a grounded feel that it’s not cartoony or overly surreal.

There’s enough of a balance to create a world that’s beautifully presented, colorful, bright, and detailed while elevating certain aspects to make it unique and wonderfully quirky. Sound design and voice work are also both great, with plenty of talent behind the weird and charming characters of this world.


For those familiar with the games, I spoke of previously, you will understand the core gameplay loop of Beyond a Steel Sky. But for those not as old or familiar with Revolution like me, Beyond a Steel Sky infuses adventure and lateral gameplay elements to create a semi-open world, where there are bog problems to resolve. The gameplay loop really is about tackling problems big and small and following a certain routine. There is plenty of discovery, problem-solving, and piecing everything together in order to proceed. Revolution games often present a big problem that can be broken down into small bite-size issues which we can resolve, and thus bring together enough resources and clues to progress further and overcome the said problem.

Usually, the problems may seem simple, such as gaining access to a certain, locked-off ar-ea, but how to accomplish this often results in a sort of slowball effect of smaller problems and solutions mounting up.

For example, you need to enter Union City. How do you do that since the bridge is out? You need to find a device that allows you to hack the controls. Where is the device? Well, you have to trade something with an eccentric young girl who’s handy at making these sorts of devices. Great, but what do you trade? Well as it so happens, a rather nasty and large crown-like creature has taken something of value to her. You’ll need to lure it in with some tasty treats, but where to get said treats? And as you can see, the small tasks do add up, accumulating into one giant problem-solving epic. But there are never that many that you just keep adding to the list. Revolution still has the knack for adding problems on top of each other, but never to make it seem overwhelming or ridiculously tedious.

The problem solving is varied and many of the smaller tasks revolve around speaking with NPCs, exploring massive environments for clues, discovering important items, and piecing it all together (with the occasional hacking segment here and there).

What Beyond a Steel Sky does right!

One of the things that 90’s point and click adventures (including many of Revolution’s games) had a bad case of was “Moon logic”. This is where a solution to a puzzle or the order of events leading up to it, makes no sense and usually ends up being a test of patience and trial and error.
Broken Sword had this issue (a puzzle involving a cat and a feather, or an angry goat in southern Ireland come to mind) and even beneath a Steel Sky. But Beyond a Steel Sky thankfully had very few moments which really made little sense. Everything flows nicely when it comes to the problem solving and main objectives, along with their smaller tasks don’t wind on too long. Towards the end of the game, the tasks do mount up a little more, but they never overstay their welcome. And with a handy hint system, you can be sure never to lose your way.

The story is incredibly strong, engaging and the impact of revelations lasts until the very end. Revolution still has the chops in writing and producing amazing stories, with en-thralling events and interesting characters. Worlds that are rich and worth exploring and set pieces that are just cherries on top of an epic cake.

What Beyond a Steel Sky could have done better?

While the pacing is pretty good throughout, the first act can drag on a little regarding its plot beats and interesting events. There’s a lot of catching up to do and plenty to see, learn and grasp in the world of Union City. Beyond a Steel, Sky is a slow burner, to begin with, but does get going after a couple of hours.

I did find that in some instances, the solutions to some puzzles could’ve been a little more complex or required a little more brainpower from the player. I don’t know if Revolution is playing it incredibly safe, but most of the adventure feels somewhat steady. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy there were no instances of Moon Logic from what I saw, but some tasks could've used another layer or two. There are still a lot of requirements to meet, legwork, and figuring out to do, but there were very few moments where I really had to push the lateral side of my brain.
This could be due to my personal experience and playing lots of games where I have beat moments of Moon Logic, but even with the hint system, I feel most people will gather what to do very quickly. I feel Revolution could’ve pushed the bar in a couple of places, and the hacking mechanics could have been used more effectively in potentially complicated situations.

Lastly, exploring the city and its many sectors can become a little tedious, as the controls and even the backtracking nature can make certain parts of the adventure drag on.
But in all fairness, these issues don’t overcome what is a pretty stellar adventure game that hits the right notes of the ’90s but modernises it for a new era.


My fears can be laid to rest, as Beyond a Steel Sky really does deliver on the promise of bringing a classic point-and-click adventure into the modern era of gaming and being overall pretty good. The story is great, its themes and messages are wholesome and thoughtful, the gameplay solid and the fun exploration and puzzle-solving elements all work incredibly well with one another. While there are some slow moments or underused mechanics, the journey on offer is really remarkable for old adventure nerds like me and those looking to check out a taste of the golden era of adventure games.

++ Great writing and story
+ Interesting world which is visually impressive
+ Nice problem solving and fun set pieces
-- Some tedious backtracking and clunky controls
- More layers to certain objectives and problems were needed

An Xbox One review copy of Beyond a Steel Sky was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.