PC, PS5, Xbox Series X
June 16, 2023
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Park Beyond takes the theme park genre to new heights with its captivating gameplay and innovative concepts. From the moment you enter the game, it introduces fresh ideas like “Impossification,” a mechanic that allows players to bend the laws of physics and create insane and impossible roller coasters. This feature sets Park Beyond apart from other theme park games and adds a new level of excitement and creativity to the experience, even though the title is not without its shortcomings.
The campaign in Park Beyond is well-crafted and engaging. One exciting addition is the pitch meetings before each map. These meetings give players a sense of personal agency and set specific targets for the theme park to aim for. It provides a clear direction right from the start, ensuring that your park caters to its target audience. Each new park offers the option of a different demographic and theme, such as space, western, or candy land. This diversity of options keeps the gameplay fresh and encourages players to tailor their parks accordingly.
The ‘impossification’ mechanic is a standout feature in Park Beyond. It allows players to unleash their creativity and create roller coasters that defy logic and gravity. From tentacles to yetis, the game offers a plethora of weird and wonderful options to spice up the traditional offerings of theme parks. The level of impossification increases with the amazement factor in your park, while research progression depends on the fun and cleanliness levels. It’s fascinating to see the cool and unexpected ideas that emerge through impossification. As you build your theme park, it’s important to monitor three key points: cleanliness, fun, and amazement, as they directly impact the possibilities for impossification.
Building roller coasters in Park Beyond is a game-changer in the genre. Unlike other games where you pay for each track segment as you build, Park Beyond allows you to draft the entire coaster before making a final decision to build. This approach provides more flexibility and allows players to experiment with different designs without constantly incurring costs. However, it’s worth noting that there is currently no way to save coaster designs or share them with others, which is a missed opportunity for community engagement and creativity.
At launch, Park Beyond offers a solid foundation of content with three coaster types, 25 flat rides, and thousands of set pieces. It’s worth mentioning that an annual pass is available, which includes three expansion packs that have yet to be announced. With these expansions, there is hope for the introduction of additional ride types such as transport rides or attractions like animal shows or exhibits. The absence of trains, monorails, or paddle boats feels like a missed opportunity for variety and immersion in the park-building experience.
However, it’s not without its flaws. The presence of game-crashing bugs is a significant issue that can really disrupt enjoyment. There are instances where rides and shops fail to process guests, resulting in stagnant lines and no income generation. These technical issues can be frustrating, and attempts to resolve them, such as restarting the game or closing and reopening affected establishments, often prove ineffective. The only viable solution is to restart the campaign, which can be disheartening for players who have invested time and effort into their progress.
“…dedication to authentic and inclusive character portrayal is commendable…”
Beyond its engaging gameplay, Park Beyond shines in its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. The game presents a cast of dominant female characters and people of colour, showcasing a refreshing level of representation. Notably, the experience features an engineer who is a person of colour and uses a wheelchair. This dedication to authentic and inclusive character portrayal is commendable, as it breaks down barriers and contributes to a more inclusive gaming landscape. Players can feel proud of the diversity showcased in here, as it sets a positive example for the industry.
Visually, Park Beyond is a feast for the eyes. The game’s environments are beautifully designed, with meticulous attention to detail. As you explore your park, you’ll be greeted with stunning visuals that create a visually pleasing and immersive experience. The attention to detail extends to the smooth performance of the game, which ensures a seamless and enjoyable gameplay experience.
“…meticulous planning and creativity don’t carry additional weight if they don’t align with the game’s designated hooks.”
Another aspect that will leave you uncertain however is the game’s approach to coaster design and enjoyment. Unlike other theme park games where intense coaster designs might result in negative consequences, such as vomiting or guests avoiding the ride, Park Beyond seemingly disregards these factors. While the game prides itself on its “extra” nature, it remains unclear whether this design choice is intentional or a potential oversight. This ambiguity creates a situation where meticulous planning and creativity don’t carry additional weight if they don’t align with the game’s designated hooks. This can be both intriguing and restrictive, as it may limit the diversity of coaster experiences players can create.
Another disappointing aspect is the lack of gameplay support for the vast array of set pieces and decorations available. While the game boasts over 1000 themed decorations that players can place in their parks, there is little to no reason to utilise them strategically. Unlocking these decorative items through research becomes an underwhelming endeavor, as they offer no tangible in-game benefits. The lack of gameplay ties for these set pieces undermines the potential for immersive park customization and leaves players yearning for more meaningful integration.
- Engaging campaign with pitch meetings and diverse themes
- Stunning visual design and attention to detail
- Commitment to diversity and inclusivity
- Innovative mechanic for creating unique roller coasters
- Game-crashing bugs that disrupt gameplay and progression
- Lack of gameplay support for set pieces and decorations
- Absence of coaster design sharing and certain ride types
- Ambiguous criteria for coaster design, potentially limiting creativity
Park Beyond delivers a captivating theme park adventure with innovative concepts and stunning visual design. The engaging campaign, featuring pitch meetings and diverse themes, will keep you invested and motivated. The impossification mechanic adds a unique twist, allowing you to create mind-bending roller coasters. However, the game is marred by technical issues, including game-crashing bugs and a lack of support for set pieces and decorations. Despite these shortcomings, Park Beyond’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is commendable. With updates and improvements, it has the potential to become a standout title in the genre, offering an immersive and imaginative experience.