Game preview: Park Beyond (PC)
Park Beyond is an upcoming theme park management game developed by Limbic Entertainment that allows players to bend, if not break the laws of physics. I've been lucky enough to spend the last couple of weeks with a preview build of the game.
The game charges players with theme park construction and management. This involves buying, researching, and constructing various rides and facilities, as well as managing the park's finances. The idea is to create a profitable park that's fun for visitors. At your disposal are several tools to assess what's working and what's not. There's staff to hire and budgets to balance.
The game's campaign mode did a good job of introducing me to the game's mechanics as well as the various characters that I'd be interacting with later on. The idea is that you have been bought on board to turn around the fortunes of an aging theme park mogul whose parks are in dire need of modernisation. The stern accountant will often chime in during the game, chastising you or begrudgingly acknowledging your success. There's also a plucky engineer who researches the rides you need to build up your parks.
Whilst the management of the parks is important, for me, the fun is in the construction of rides, specifically rollercoasters. There are a number of flat rides, some available at the start and others that need researching. The flat rides can be just popped in place and are great for filling in gaps and providing more family-friendly attractions.
Building rollercoasters is the game's main draw. You have a choice of components, the main ones being the chain track for pulling cars uphill and the normal track for the cars to whizz around. As well as the normal track parts, there are quite a few prefabricated components for quickly adding hammerhead turns and loops. There are also quite a few more exotic components that have cars performing jumps and even getting blasted from a cannon.
It's very tempting to create an incredibly high incline and have riders plunging straight down at breakneck speed. The coolest and craziest-looking rollercoaster isn't necessarily the most comfortable and enjoyable ride for guests. Too violent, and you'll make guests ill, and they'll refuse to ride on it. One of the challenges in the game had me make a family-friendly rollercoaster with mellow hills and turns, but still fun to ride. Whilst not a terror-inducing white-knuckle ride, it was one of the most popular in the park.
Despite the game offering plenty of tutorial help, the menus take a bit of getting used to. The rollercoaster building editor is, however, one of the best that I've used in this type of game, allowing me to create some great rides.
Players familiar with the Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster games will be familiar with the idea behind Park Beyond. Like its peers, Park Beyond does get a bit tied up with its controls. In my option, 3D theme park builders have never quite managed to top the simplicity of the isometric mechanics of the original Rollercoaster Tycoon.
As well as the campaign, I also checked out the game's sandbox mode. There are loads of different environments and scenarios to choose from. I selected options that gave me unlimited cash and unlocked all the rides and shops. Not only are there plenty of prebuild themed shops, but you can also build your own from hundreds of components. There are hours of play in this game, with players able to make the theme park of their dreams.
The Park Beyond preview build looked fantastic and was very polished, running on my PC without any issues. I love how the game allows players to create impossible rollercoasters and the huge amount of customisation that it gives you. I had a lot of fun with the preview, and I'm looking forward to the final release.
If you want to try the game yourself, a closed beta test will be held from May 9th to 19th for PC players. You can register by going to Bandai Namco Entertainment's European website.
Park Beyond will be available for Windows PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on June 16th.