Beneath a Steel Sky logo Amiga Computing Gold Award

Jonathan Maddock grabs his trusty mouse and clicks his way into a state of adventuring bliss, courtesy of Virgin and Revolution Software.


A few years ago I bought a graphic novel entitled Watchman, which featured the art of Dave Gibbons and it quite literally took my breath away. If you've never read Watchman then right after this review I urge you to go out and buy it and if you haven't got the cash, beg or steal yourself a copy.
Dave, who previously worked on popular weekly 2000AD, tried and failed to make a Watchman game, but he still had the computer bug and has now joined up forces with Revolution Software, whose previous software credits include the highly acclaimed Lure of the Temptress, to work on Beneath a Steel Sky.

Two years in the making, Revolution Software have significantly enhanced their unique Virtual Theatre system and created a game that is six times bigger than Lure of the Temptress. The Virtual Theatre system allows all the characters to realistically move about independently in their world. For instance, if you find a character in a certain room, don't expect them to be there when you return.
As with most games of this genre, the adventure is all controlled via the mouse and clicking on objects will cause the hero of the game to interact with them.


You take on the role of Robert Foster, who as a youngster crash-landed in a desolate place known only as the Gap. With his parents dead, Robert was taken in an fostered by Tribesmen.
Treated as one of the tribe, Robert learned to survive by hunting and scavenging. As years passed he started to discover new talents such as buildings robots and one of them, Joey, became his constant companion.

Then one day the eldest tribesman had a premonition of the evil that was coming to the Gap. That evil was the security helicopter. After the Commander had threatened the old tribesman with death, Robert came out of hiding and was promptly abducted by brutal security forces and brought to a place called Union City.

His fate is in your hands as he talks to people and explores the area around him, in an attempt to discover why he was brought to the city.
Right at the start of the adventure you find that Foster has escaped from the wreck of the helicopter in which he was kidnapped. You must ensure that he eludes security in order to discover his past and his destiny.



Dave Gibbons began his comics career in 1973. A frequent contributor to the magazine 2000AD, he illustrated such renowned strips as Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare and Rogue Trooper for that publication.
Gibbons has also worked on the popular Doctor Who strip, and in 1982 he began his association with DC Comics, drawing the Green Lantern series.

His work with Alan Moore on Watchmen helped win him a Best Writer/Artist combination award at the 1987 Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards ceremony.
Monthly magazine, Q, said Watchmen was "The most advanced comic yet, one which elevates the medium from the mere childish diversion to the level of an artform".



There are loads of previous adventures I could compare Beneath a Steel Sky to, in fact far too many to name here, but classics like Monkey Island 2 spring to mind. There are certain points in Revolution's graphic adventure where humour pops up and this is very reminiscent of the witticisms found in US Gold's swashbuckling Monkey Island 2.

One of the better adventures that you could compare it to is a previous release of Revolution Software, Lure of the Temptress. Lure featured some luscious graphics, some good atmospheric sound effects and incorporated the then revolutionary Virtual Theatre system.
The story is all about a chap called Diermont and his mission to free the Turnvale Village from the evil clutches of Selena, a apprentice sorceress. At the time the game received a walloping 92% and a Gamer Gold award. The reviewer at the time summed Lure up by saying "If you're the more patient type of gamer who wants a challenge that will give you months of enjoyment, look no further than Lure of the Temptress".



There isn't a lot to shout about on the sound front and is in fact quite weak. The atmospheric introduction music is adequate enough, but you've heard it several times before. Actual in-game sound effects are few and far between. This is about the only disappointing thing about Beneath a Steel Sky. A nice touch of gentle music playing throughout wouldn't have gone amiss.

I know there are people out there who don't like their adventuring thought-processes disturbed by meddlesome tunes, but for those kind of people there is always the volume switch.

Some of the in-game sound effects are really bad, especially the alarm at the beginning of the story which sounds like a bad case of flatulence, and although it does cause much hilarity it isn't really an excuse for bad sound effects.




Visually, Beneath a Steel Sky is just about as sexy as Amiga graphics get. I guess a lot of it is down to the amazing talents of Dave Gibbons who not only is responsible for designing part of the actual game and creating the background graphics, but also kindly provided Beneath a Steel Sky with a brilliant scene-setting 8-page comic book.

The game starts with a brief, but well-animated introduction of the security helicopter crashing with the hero escaping amidst a hail of bullets, but then you are plunged straight into the actual adventure.
Revolution's adventure features some exceptional character sprites and some jaw-droppingly good backgrounds and when compared to previous games of this genre it literally outshines them all.

The animation is smooth and fluid and you really get a sense that each sprite has its own character and personality. Even just small sections of Beneath a Steel Sky are worth mentioning. For instance, if I told you there's a bit where a cat jumps off bed, you wouldn't be that impressed, but it is so well animated that you actually feel like telling everyone about it.

I have tried but failed to knock the graphics in the game simply because they are so damn perfect. I doff my cap to Dave Gibbons and the graphics artist that have obviously worked so hard on Beneath a Steel Sky.




Beneath a Steel Sky is just about one of the ebst graphic adventures I have every played to date on the Amiga. Everything about it just oozes quality and over the last couple of weeks it's been a real pleasure to play. Before I praise it anymore I should point out its few unfortunate faults. Firstly, it comes on 15 (count 'em!) disks and you will, without a shadow of a doubt, need a hard drive. The actual installation process takes well over an hour, but why it should take this long is completely beyond me.

I played Beneath a Steel Sky on the A1200 and it kept crashing about every 15 minutes. It's not just me either because another member of the AC team, who was as deeply engrossed in Virgin's adventure as me, experienced the same problems.

Putting these faults, which do take the edge off the actual brilliance of the game, aside, I would heartily recommend Beneath a Steel Sky to any adventure fan. Why do I recommend it though? Well, the graphics are good enough to marry and have children with, the gameplay and actual storyline are first-rate, it's easy to play and you just couldn't wish for a better adventure.

The actual puzzles contained within the game do vary from the obvious to the baffling, but you have a lot of fun trying to work them out and when you do a sense of achievement washes over you.

Beneath a Steel Sky is not aimed at the very young market though, because it does have a small amount of swearing and innuendo contained within it. Nothing that shocking, but I'd just thought I'd let you know. Beneath a Steel Sky was just a whisker away from getting a Platinum Award, but due to the amount of bugs I suffered I'm now a little bitter and I've consequently knocked the score down. No matter what software comes out, there is little excuse for letting bugs get into a game.

Revolution Software have surpassed the amazing Lure of the Temptress with their latest adventure and I congratulate them on making such a fine adventure game. If it doesn't go to the top of the software charts then I think there is simply no justice in this world.

Beneath a Steel Sky logo Amiga Format Gold

Revolution Software's long-awaited sequel to Lure of the Temptress promises much, but does it deliver? Rob Mead investigates.

There is a brief moment in Terry Gilliam's weird an nightmarish film Brazil when you think the hero has finally defeated the forces of darkness that threaten to surround him. Beneath A Steel Sky is a lot like that.

Ostensibly a follow up to the acclaimed Lure of the Temptress , Beneath A Steel Sky places you firmly in the shoes of hero Robert Foster who is abruptly abducted from his wasteland home and set down in a strange and violently unfriendly city. Only by uncovering a series of mysterious events can Foster piece together the missing parts of his life and defeat the evil which surrounds him.

Your adventure begins when you escape from a helicopter crash caused by the mysterious LINC supercomputer which ordered your kidnap in the first place. The fickle machine then kills the security officer sent to recapture you and you are free to explore the city. Confused? You will be.

What follows is a series of puzzles, clues and snatched conversations which convince you that, not only is the world which you have so reluctantly entered come completely off its hinges, but that you, in some way, are the key to it all. With help from your sarcastic robot sidekick Joey, you act as both investigator and catalyst to the events which take later place.

The action is set over four different levels: Factory, City, Park and Underworld, each with its own peculiar set of problems. Your first task is to escape the cordon of security forces which surrounds the helicopter crash site. You do this by exploring the bleak, industrial sector filled with mysterious pieces of machinery, computer terminals and characters like the obese and treacherous Supervisor Lamb who gladly sacrifices others' live in pursuit of his own career.

The City level also has its fair share of unsavoury characters - there is Dr Burke, the plastic surgeon who is quite happy to accept your testicles as down payment on a brain implant and Billy Anchor, the insurance salesman with a hidden agenda. The City level is also where you find clues to Lamb's past and his unenviable collection of "pussy" videos.

Once you figure out how to get there, the Park section also ahs its surprises - Mrs Piernot, the Gardener and the Owner of the St James nightclub all have skeletons in their respective closets and, when you reach the Underworld level, you know you are on the verge of discovering something major with giant spiders and Replicants intent on spoiling your chances of success. Perhaps the weirdest parts of the game, though, are the sequences inside LINC's brain. Here you find a parallel universe full of laser beam eyeballs and carpet bags which owes more to surrealist painting than Torvak the warrior.

Beneath A Steel Sky is an exceptional game. Right from the beginning you know you are playing something a bit special. The whole thing absolutely reeks atmosphere from comic book artist David Gibbons' Blade Runner-ish backgrounds to the spot-on sound effects. Beneath A Steel Sky is a game of substance.

Programmers Revolution Software have gone out of their way to ensure the game plays as logically as possible so you never get frustratingly stuck on any of the many puzzles for too long. You quickly learn that the various keys and keyholes are red herrings and even the most obscure tests of your abilities as an adventure gamer can be mastered with a bit of lateral thinking.

Blowing the doors open on the steam room's control panel is merely a case of flicking the off switch, removing the light bulb and sticking a bit of plastic explosive (putty) in the vacant light socket. But it can take you a heck of a long time trying to work out a puzzle like that.

Rooms with a view
Revolution's much vaunted Virtual Theatre also works well. It means you can peek through windows at other rooms and the characters within them and you know that when you send Joey the robot off to do something he will do it without you have to hold his hand every inch of the way.

In some cases, it is downright dangerous trying to do something yourself when your robot pal can do it for yo. The game is also very much aimed at an adult audience. There are plenty of double-entendres, one-liners and sight gags, but the humour never appears forced or gratuitous as it has done in other graphic adventures such as Simon the Sorcerer.

Still, no game is perfect (right?) and Beneath A Steel Sky is no exception. With 13 disks, you are in for a host of disk-swapping and accessing which can slow things down considerably. If you own a hard disk, the game is a lot easier on your stress levels, but still takes a long time to install - over two hours, in fact.

Sky is the limit
Within the game itself, there are irritating niggles too. Moving Foster around a screen can get annoying if Joey gets in your way and the manner in which characters have to jostle for position when you want to talk to them can get aggravating.

Another annoying factor is that it is incredibly easy to die. If you stick Foster in the wrong place at the wrong time and he takes a fatal tumble, your only resource is to restore from your last saved game position. You never found Guybrush Threepwood carrying on like that.

These are minor glitches in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable game. the controls are well set-up - left click tells you about an object or person, right click performs an action and you only use the icons or menu bars to select an object from your inventory.

Beneath A Steel Sky is very slick and extremely well put together. I is one of the most enjoyable Amiga graphic adventures for a long time.

Beneath a Steel Sky logo Amiga Joker Hit

Vor zwei Jahren legte das Revolution-Team sein Erstlingsabenteuer "Lure of the Temptress" vor - mit dem Nachfolger beweisen die Enländer, daß ihr hochgelobtes Virtual Theatre-System durchaus noch steigerungsfähig ist!

Abgesehen von der Weiterentwicklung des Spielsystems hat sich beim zweiten Revolution-Adventure auch sonst noch einiges getan. So mußte das alte Fantasyszenario einer düsteren Endzeitwelt weichen, für deren Cyberpunk-Design mit Dave Gibsons ("Watchmen", "Give me Liberty") ein bekannter Comic Künstler verpflichtet wurde: Dave hat nicht nur die stimmungsvollen Hintergrundgrafiken gezeichnet, sondern auch den der Packung beiliegenden Comic mit der Vorgeschichte:

Dank der Mega-Konzerne hat sich die Erde in eine Betonwüste verwandelt, auf der krebsartig gigantische Stadtgebilde wuchern. Diejenigen, welche das Leben im Schatten der allmächtiges Companies ablehnen, finden Zuflucht im trostlosen Niemandsland, das "Gap" (= Loch) genannt wird.

Robert Foster, der Held des Spiels, wurde von den Bewohnern dieser Einöde als Baby aus dem Wrack eines Kopters geborgen und aufgezogen: sein bester Freund ist ein ehemaliger Scout-droide, den er entführt und umprogrammiert hat. Eines Tages erscheint nun ein Kampfverband der konzerneigenen Sicherheitstruppen, schnappt sich unseren Waisen und putzt dann sein Heimatsdorf samt Einwohnern von der Landkarte.

Lediglich in die Persona-Hauptplatine seines Robbies kann Foster noch an sich nehmen, bevor ihn die Kidnapper zurück in die Stadt bringen. Doch der als Transportmittel dienende Kopter stürzt unter mysteriösen Umstanden ab, und der Held landet als einziger Überlebender in der obersten Ebene der City. Hier, wo sich die umweltbelastenden Fabriken befinden, leben nur die sogenannten D-LINCs, statuslose Unterprivilegierte, die keinen Zutritt zu den tieferen Ebenen mit höherer Lebensqualität besitzen.

Ab jetzt liegt es in der Hand des Spielers, die wahre Identität Robert Fosters herauszufinden - und natürlich den Grund seiner geheimnisvollen Entführung.

Erste Nachforschungen in dem über 100 Locations großen Spielareal ergeben, daß die Metropole von einem mächtigen Rat beherrscht wird, den ein riesiges Computersystem namens LINC unterstützt, wobei die erbarmungslosen Sicherheitstruppen unter der Führung ihres Chefs Reich jede Form von Rebellion im Keim ersticken.

Doch je weiter man vorandringt, um so mehr Fragen türmen sich auf: Warum spricht Reich Foster z.B. nur mit "Overmann" an, und weshalb verhindert der erstaunlich selbstständige LINC-Computer mit Hilfe seines allumfassenden Überwachungssystems die vorzeitige Eliminierung unseres Helden, indem er den bösen Reich kurzerhand in zwei Hälften zerlasert? Viele Antworten wollen gefunden und unzählige logische Puzzles gelöst werden, bevor die Herkunft des Hauptdarstellers geklärt und die Stadt von ihren Unterdrückern befreit ist...

Zu den auffälligsten Verbesserungen des Virtual Theatre-Systems gehört die überarbeitete Benutzerführung per Maus und Menüs. Ein einfaches Beispiel dafür ist die gewachsene "Intelligenz" der Türen: Während man sich beim Vorgänger jedesmal zwischen den Möglichkeiten Öffnen, Schießen, Abschließen und Aufschließen entscheiden mußte, erkennt das neue Interface von alleine, welche Aktion zur Situation passt, es genügt also ein Mausklick.

Damit das nicht zu Lasten der Komplexität geht, wurde die Anzahl der Rätsel erhöht, für deren Lösung man noch weitere Objekte benötigt. So läßt sich etwa die Feuertür am Anfang des Spiels nur mit einem Eisenrohr öffnen, welches man zuvor aus einem Geländer gebrochen und im Inventory zwischengelagert hat. Aber bekanntlich kann man nicht alle Probleme mit der Brechstange lösen, vor allem für die Informationsbeschaffung muß man auch mit vielen Leuten reden, was hier per Multiple Choice geschieht.

Außerdem sollte Foster seinen alten Roboterfreund baldmöglichst reaktivieren, wozu er in erster Linie der passende Gehäuse braucht, um die mitgeschleifte Platine einzubauen. Kleiner Tip: Zur Not tut es auch ein ausgedientes Haushaltsgerät. Sobald das Helferlein wieder betriebsbereit ist, fungiert es als Schnittstelle zu anderen Maschinen, knackt scheinbar unüberwindliche Türen oder unterzieht die Fundstücke einer genauen Analyse.

Die teilweise animierten Hintergrundgrafiken strahlen eine düstere Stimmung mit geradezu sogartiger Wirkung aus. Für das richtige "Blade Runner"-Feeling sorgen zusätzlich die streckenweise recht blutrünstigen Zwischensequenzen - etwa, wenn der Sicherheitschef seine "Persönlichkeitsspaltung" erleidet.

Auch die Animationen der Sprites sind gut gelungen und können mit einem ähnlichen Zoomeffekt aufwarten, wie man ihn von "Indy IV" kennt. Dagegen fällt die Musikuntermalung zwar etwas ab, paßt aber immer gut zum Geschehen und wird von stimmigen Sound-FX ergänzt. Die Handhabung ist eh über alle Zweifel erhaben, dazu kommen komplett deutsche Texte - die oft recht deftig auffallen.

Da uns für den termingerechten Test eine Vorabversion zur Verfügung stand, können wir über die endgültige Zahl der Disks leider noch keine genaueren Angaben machen, sie dürfte sich allerdings im zweistelligen Bereich bewegen. Folglich ist die Installation auf Harddisk praktisch ein Muß wobei auch gleich verraten sei, daß die AGA-Ausführung mit 256 Farben (gegenüber 32 bei der Normalversion) schon kurz nach der Standardfassung veröffentlicht werden soll.

Unabhängig davon steht aber eines jetzt schon fest: Beneath A Steel Sky kann Abenteurern den momentanen Rückzug von Lucas Arts aus der Amiga-Szene vergessen machen! (st)

Beneath a Steel Sky logo

A steel sky? Would that not be, like, inconveniently heavy? And impervious to sunlight?

The first thing you notice when you look at Beneath A Steel Sky is that it is a bit of a multi-media experience. If you load up the game straight away, you are not going to have a clue what is going on, and if you read the little comic that comes with it, then it leaves a lot to be desired as far as character and plot progressions are concerned. However, if you go the whole hog and read the comic before loading the game, then you are getting somewhere.

The comic is drawn by David Gibbons (of Watchmen fame) and cahrts Foster's last day in the Gap, a sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland. He is wrenched from his adopted family and the only life he has ever know by a group of armed men from the city. They immediately show that they are bad boys by shooting his pet robot Joey, hustiling Foster into a chopper, and then killing everyone else with a huge bomb. Before you can see 'sightseeing tour' the helicopter is dropping out of the sky into the city. His family, his home AND his pet robot all in one day, and all this before breakfast too. Some people were just born unlucky.

Switching from comic to game, you get to watch a little cinematic bit which takes off where the comic ends, namely with your nose-diving rather dramatically into the concrete. Fortunately the crash does not kill him, and he manages to stumble off down a gangway with a couple of angry policemen taking the odd pot shot at him. He takes refuge in a factory complex, and this is where the game starts.

Up to this point you have been treated to some excellent atmospheric visuals, and the good news is that this is not one of those games where they have used up all their best stuff at the beginning in a flash intro sequence, oh no. Revolution Software made painting of all of Dave Gibbons' drawings and then scanned them in, resulting in a level of detail and texture that puts the game more into the realms of comic book land than computer games. There is a bit of an inconsistency between these gorgeous background graphics and the cartoony characters, but once you get into the game and start to appreciate the inherent humour of the game, it makes sense that they are drawn this way.

There is also bucket loads of animation for each character, none of this 'stuck in a short loop' nonsense here. Guards pause for ciggy breaks, dogs wander around and scratch, and receptionists answer the phone from time to time. All of these goings-on are underscored by a rather low-key and sparse soundtrack, consisting of background rumblings and the occasional spot sound effect. I do not really see this as a problem, since the last thing you want with a game that takes hours to play is a musical score that repeats every five minutes.

With those point-and-click games, I usually lose interest as soon as I start to play them, for several reasons. The main one is the plot, or rather lack of it, which I will deal with later. The second one is the lack of pace in these games, as you can hang around for any length of time and nothing happens.

Steel Sky peps things up by having real-time solutions where you have to get into rooms and perform certain actions before other characters return, an idea that I like lots. Thirdly, if you enter a room and find you can highlight three objects, then you usually know that they are all vital. Steel Sky gets round this by putting in red herrings, but also manages to stop them cluttering up your game by making them unmovable. For instance, in the first section, you can wander around looking at monitors, pushing buttons and pressing levers to your hears content, but it is unlikely that you will stumble on the solution only by chance, as it takes thought and interaction, which is my final point.

In many games, no matter how many times you perform an action or ask a question, the result is always the same. This is quite obviously stupid - I mean, if some stranger came up to you and asked "Where is the forest?" twelve times, would you say "It is over the hill there" an equal number of times? Course you would not, you would deck him after the first five.

An ending that is actually quite a surprise

Steel Sky takes a more credible approach, when you first talk to a character, they are usually a bit abrupt, and then the more you talk to them, the more response you get from them. They might turn out not to like you, but it does underline the importance of communicating with the other characters rather than meeting them, getting a fact from them and then wandering off again.

There is a few other novel gamelay features, most notably Joey the Robot, who survives as a printed circuit board. Throughout the game you can slot him into various robot shells, and he will be able to help you progress through the game, as well as come up with some genuinely funny one-liners. He can get into rooms that you cannot, and if you find a window, you can even look through into another location, something I have never seen before. This is all very well, but the most important feature of an adventure game is the adventure itself, and this one is just great.

Now although I have only played a fraction of the game, I can make this statement because I have been to Revolution and seen all of it. Have you been wondering why Foster was taken to the city? Or why the helicopter should suddently spin out and crash? Well, this is what the game is about: it is a detective story in the tradition of Columbo, Petrocelli and all the other TV greats. There is not much background to the game, because that is what you have to uncover.

If you find out why Foster was brought to the city and who keeps intervening on his behalf, then you will have finished the game.

The thing is that there are about a hundred locations to work your way through, and since most point and click adventuers have about 40, this has got to be the biggest one around. It comes on a whopping 15 (count 'em!) disks, but due to logical planning, you only have to swap disks once when you move from one section of six or seven locations to another. A bigger problem of play from disk is the 20 second access time, which slows things up and interrupts the game, but as this is such a big game, Revolution are obviously aiming this at hard disk owners, who experience a three second access time.

But back to the plot. This is not some halfbaked 'you must find the golden amulet' scenario, it is a story of discovery, where the people you meet are part of the story rather than helpful pointer to the end. Som people are out to get you (and you can get killed), some help you and others get rubbed out along the way. You progress through the real world and cyberspace to an ending that is actually quite a surprise.

If you are going to buy this game (and I would recommend you do) then treat it like a movie - Stay away from game solutions as you would avod the plot of a film. It might take you longer to do it yourself, but finishing it will be all the sweeter.

Beneath a Steel Sky logo CU Amiga Super Star

Lure of the Temptress was an experiment in creating a realistic adventure environment. Revolution's Beneath A Steel Sky takes Virtual Theatre that little bit further. Tony Dillon checks it out.

In a gaming universe where many genres have gone just about as far as they have, it's rare to find a field that keeps growing and growing. Flight simulations are taking small steps all the time, as are platform titles and even the odd shoot 'em up, but nowhere is as much energy and excitement being thrown about as the graphic adventure market.

It's hard to guess what makes them so playable and so popular: the graphics? The complexity of the puzzles? The number of icons you have to play with? Whatever it is, no-one can deny that there's nothing like a good graphic adventure to stop you from actually interacting with the rest of the human race for a week or two.

Possibly one of the most important advances for the graphic adventure was Revolution's Lure of the Temptress. A challenging and involving game, it's strongest feature was the implementation of the (then) new Virtual Theatre system. A virtual play tries to create a realistic backdrop to a game, where locations connect sensibly and everything is believable. That is not its strong point, though.

The selling point comes from the characters in the game. In a virtual play, everyone has something to do. They live somewhere, they go to work, or shop. They interact with each other, whether or not you are actually there. If you followed someone around, they would perform the tasks they would normally do in a day, talk to other people, not talk to the rest, have arguments or friendly conversations and generally live out a day to day existence. It's quite something in practice, as you no longer feel you are playing a game where the world revolves around you. A blow for the old ego, maybe, but infinitely more realistic, and by extension, more involving.

The Virtual Theatre system has been dramatically updated for Revolution's Beneath A Steel Sky, the second outing for Virgin Games and the results are outstanding to say the least. In case you aren't familiar, the game tells the story of a young man, orphaned and abandoned outside a giant metropolis, and brought up by a group of savages living in an area of desolation known as The Gap. All is well until one day security officers come from the city to take him back. The helicopter they are travelling crashes, and he escapes into the urban jungle. This is only the beginning.

You are this man, lost in a Blade Runner background, with security hunting high and low for you. You have no money, no tools and no knowledge of what you have to do, apart from the fact that you have to get out of the city and back to The Gap as quickly as possible. The only real problem there is that you - for some unknown reason - have become enemy number one.

So we roll into the kind of adventure where you have no idea what you are meant to do, and just hope you are performing the right moves to make the story unfold properly. As in good thrillers, you are kept guessing right to the end, gradually being fed small pieces of information as you go along. For example, at the start of the game you are mistaken for a guy called Overmann. Who is he? Why do the police so badly want to catch him? All these questions, and many more, will be answered at the end of the game.

Life would be really tough if you were left abandoned on your own. Thankfully you aren't. Hidden in one of the pockets of your rather snazzy Ministry-style coat is a circuit board which holds the personality and brain of your lifetime companion called Joey. Joey lost his robot shell in the crash, but luckily you had enough presence of mind to take his controlling board. Once you find a shell for him, you can get him on his feet/tracks/wheels/whatever and then get him to help you out with some of the trickier puzzles in the game. Watch out, though, as Joey has a very strong personality on his own, which will conflict with yours occasionally.

You may wonder how it adds to the game. If you've ever played Planetfall or Stationfall and are familiar with Floyd the Droid, then you'll know just how humorous a conversation with a robot can be. A tin can with feelings paves the way for plenty of moments that, while not exactly gut-busting, should bring a smile to anyone's face.

The whole game is darkly funny, if you can laugh at a fugitive from the law, that is. All the way through, just like Day of the Tentacle, there are set pieces that happen that really draw you into the game. At one point you need to get Joey to jump-start another robot. He gears up to do this, but asks you to look away as he finds it embarrassing. A probe then extends from the top of his head, and thrusts in and out of what can only be described as the other robot's posterior until the other robot starts moving. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated, believe me.

The other key to the game's charm is the variety of characters you can meet. Many are based on people know to Revolution, although I wouldn't like to name any names. Hobbins is a stereotypical caretaker, happy to be left tinkering but will kick up a stink if you so much as look at a piece of machinery in the wrong way. Lamb is the boss of the building, and throws his weight around whenever he gets the chance.

You have two police desk-jockeys, apathetic in the extreme and bureaucratic to the point where they actually have to do some work. These and many others are just waiting to help you out, slow you down or mow you down, depending on how you deal with them.

Of course, if you're going to have that many puzzles, then you need a fairly large environment to put them all in, and Beneath A Steel Sky is huge. With almost a hundred different screens, most of which you return to more than once, there sure is a hell of a lot to be done. Unlike certain other games, Beneath A Steel Sky doesn't have you wandering through dozens of screens doing nothing.

There is generally at least one puzzle on every screen, and the game is designed so that it is almost impossible to die or fall. The puzzles need to be completed in order, as you usually can't progress very far if you miss something. This means you won't end up on the final section and discover that the laser welder you didn't think you needed thirty screens ago is actually very important. If you've missed something, chances are it's only a couple of screens away.

Most of the puzzles are formed from the phrase 'Use [name] on [name]'. This might sound a little simple, but thanks to puzzles being multi-layered, and the ability to use the same object more than once, you can have a hard time just figuring out what to use.

The control method in Steel Sky is so simple that Revolution can finally lay claim to having created the ultimate in intuitive control methods. The left mouse button selects an object to look at, and the right mouse button selects an object to use. To look at a door, you click with the left, and to open it you click with the right. You don't need to tell the program that you want to open it - it knows that the only thing you can really do with a door when you want to go through is open it.

In much the same way that the only thing you can do with a closed window is look through it. In places where something has no real use, the main character will pick it up and stuff it in his coat. From this point, moving the mouse to the top of the screen will call up the inventory, and the same mouse controls apply, although using an object from the inventory will require you selecting something to use it on. What could be simpler?

The graphics in the game are simply stunning. There is no other way to describe them. Hand-painted backdrops, scanned in and retouched, stop it from looking like a run-of-the-mill adventure, and the use of exceptional detail make the smallest, dullest rooms interesting to search. Small ceiling-fans rotate and, in the far distance, cars travel along the highways.

Every character has a whole range of moves and expressions which along with the personality generated through conversation gives them depth and makes them all the more believable.

So what is it actually like to play? A lot of fun, to be honest. The puzzles are logical without being too obvious, and the control method means that you can get into it immediately. There is enough challenge to keep even the most ardent adventurer going, while beginners will work through it without straining too hard. There is a really nice learning curve to the game making it taxing without being frustrating.

There are always enough clues to help you figure out problems, but that isn't to say the game is easy. After a few hours play I had managed to work through the first sixth of the game, but the speed I was progressing was definitely slowing towards the end. No doubt by the time this review is printed, I will have finished the game, but only because it's so much fun to play that I can't think of playing anything else in its field.

Beneath A Steel Sky also features one important aspect that I find sadly lacking in a lot of adventures. It's extremely addictive. You always want to know what someone will say to you next, or what the next problem is going to be.

A genuinely enjoyable experience, and one where there are so many different ways to play it. I can definitely see myself returning to this one after I've completed it, just to find out what I've missed. Simply one of the best adventures ever released on the Amiga.


Anyone who has ever picked up a comic will know that Dave Gibbons is one of the finest comic artists in the world. They will also be fairly excited to know that, not only did Dave contribute quite a lot to the graphics in the game (backdrops and character sketches), he has also produced a full-colour, eight-page comic explaining the backdrop to the game, right up to the point where the helicopter goes into a spin over the city, which is where the intro sequence takes over. A veritable masterpiece of comic art, this freebie is very limited, and will doubtless become a collector's item in years to come. It's practically worth getting it just for that!


One thing that will surprise a lot of people about this game is the amount of what I will term 'adult content'. Where other graphic adventures rely on slapstick and generous dollops of the simpler brands of US humour to get people laughing, Beneath A Steel Sky contains some bad language, huge amounts of wit, satire, sarcasm and a more than fair smattering of double entendres. There are also one or two gory moments to be seen: when a guard gets shot in two by a laser cannon his legs drop to the floor, and his upper torso slides along the ground, steaming slightly. Yuck!