One announcement we didn’t expect from Gamescom was a new game called Park Beyond from Bandai Namco and Limbic Entertainment, the development team who have worked on games in the past like Tropico 6. If you couldn’t guess from the title, yes it’s a theme park management game, but with some interesting twists that make it stand out. Checkpoint had a presentation from the developers in advance of the reveal itself, and we’re optimistic about what Park Beyond could bring to the table in this classic genre.
The elevator pitch for Park Beyond is that it’s “a modern Theme Park game, allowing to create impossible rides, with deep Park Management gameplay, which expands the genre to consoles while delivering a new type of experience for the PC audience.” That’s certainly quite a challenging task to take on, particularly making the genre accessible to console players, which has long been the challenge of games in this genre.
The main hook of Park Beyond is “Impossification”, or the idea that you can expand your rides – and other elements – beyond what would normally be possible in real life in terms of physics or engineering. This concept instantly separates the style of the game; where so many of the traditional Theme Park-esque games are grounded in reality, this one is allows you to think on a different level that and create the wildest rides of your dreams.
“Park Beyond allows you to think on a different level that and create the wildest rides of your dreams.”
There were several examples that we were shown of this Impossification in action when chatting with the developers; first, a traditional horse carousel grows additional levels above it and moves around like clockwork, while a Ferris wheel literally sprouts different wheels out of it in a really cool interconnected way. Another example showed a swinging ride with a flat Kraken, which eventually evolves into a gigantic animatronic Kraken spinning a submarine underwater. Each of these examples showed two impossification steps, which means that you’re zany park can evolve as you progress.
There’s also a modular coaster system that looked easy to use, but also uses impossified modules so you can shoot your train through a cannon and build them in game. It looks incredibly simple in a point-and-click kind of fashion, and there’s a first person camera and a cinematic camera to see it in action. The omni cart can transform into other shapes as well to adapt to the environment (ie; if it ends up in water, it becomes a hovercraft, or has wings when it needs to fly). Overall, it looked like very outside-of-the-box creative thinking that has me intrigued.
Apart from the impossification which is the largest point of difference, we’ve been promised a mission based storyline, with a campaign that includes twists and turns and ways to individualise your playthrough via pitch meetings that regularly take place with the main characters. There’s still a deep management system that looks to be a bit more traditional in terms of what you’d expect; managing visitors needs, happiness and budget, ensuring your various shops are filled with food drinks and souvenirs and so on.
They also noted that they’re trying to make the game as accessible as possible for console players. The genre has long been something that works better with a keyboard and mouse, but with the game launching simultaneously on current generation consoles and PC, we’re hoping that this is addressed in a way that makes the often-complicated UI work well in terms of navigating with a controller. We only saw the impossification of some rides, but a glimpse of some concept art showed that this unique proposition will extend to other parts of the park; on a kebab truck, we see a chef with a large sword slicing at a gigantic skewer of meat while another chef roasts it with a fully fledged flamethrower. The possibilities really do seem endless and should make for a theme park management experience like no other.
Park Beyond is set for release in 2022 on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC.