Say you’ve been to all the amusement parks in the world and you’re looking for just that little bit extra. Or you’ve played all the sim games and want things just a little more absurd. That’s now possible with the impossifications in Park Beyond.
Back to the globetrotting days
Namco Bandai is trying to revive the amusement park simulation world. After all, it is a genre that had its glory days back in the days of the first few Rollercoaster Tycoon games. To avoid being just another in a dozen, developer Limbic Entertainment figured out that attractions, employees and stores can be made extra absurd. They call that impossification.
Impossification involves taking an attraction outside the norms of reality. Think of a roller coaster that suddenly goes on without rails, gets a big cannon or goes flying for a bit. Standard attractions can also get this layer, causing bumper cars to suddenly become a pinball machine or a ship to split into multiple parts.
In Park Beyond can, there are several fairly standard game modes to indulge in. To get the hang of the game and its building options, it’s best to start with the campaign. Here you will gradually learn how to build attractions, what you need to pay attention to in order to run your park properly et cetera. Additionally, the sandbox mode allows you to build your amusement park to your heart’s content.
Free to set your own goals
The campaign consists of eight missions. What makes Park Beyond unique in this is that you decide which direction your objectives will take. If you love building roller coasters, then you focus your objectives on that. If you are more into managing, then you can focus on getting a certain number of visitors. At the beginning of the level you enter a kind of board meeting, where you get to answer the questions of the other boardmembers. You can then choose from three answers, with the effect of your choice directly behind them. If you like building the wildest roller coasters, then you can choose that direction. If you prefer to take it a little easier, you can choose to give as many standard attractions as possible a layer of impossibility.
It’s nice that these choices can be made, because this ensures that you can play Park Beyond the way you want. The biggest drawback is that this can make the levels quickly become monotonous. Impossify five attractions or place a roller coaster going under this piece of land eventually gets boring.
Fortunately, you can have a lot of fun building roller coasters or watching the attractions work with an impossify layer. A carousel that suddenly goes thirty feet into the air, a roller coaster that shoots you out of a cannon or an entertainer flying meters through the air in a strange costume, it’s all fun to see for the first time.
Unfortunately, Park Beyond still suffers from quite a few bugs. For example, I have had the game crash more often when I wanted to replace a stall for another. Also, sometimes building a roller coaster or placing an attraction doesn’t work smoothly. It’s hard to see how high an attraction is compared to the ground. The same is the case with paths, where they sometimes twist themselves into very strange turns. It even happened that I couldn’t remove a piece of path because it had somehow become completely vertical.
What does work nicely is that while building a roller coaster, you can watch live along as the train goes along the track, including speed. This way you will quickly know if it is going too fast and you need to slow down, or too slow and you can give it a boost. On the side of the screen the controls for modifying your roller coaster are clearly explained, making this a piece of cake. Before you know it, you have figured out how to make sharp turns, rises and helixes.
This trend of clear instructions is not found throughout Park Beyond. Where the standard roller coaster parts are easy to find, it is searching for the special parts. A help screen can be found, but for each part it is limited to three short explanation screens. For example, there was a mission where I had to place entertainment points, only it took quite some time to find them – they are under staff facilities. The limited help also comes back every time you restart the game or reload a mission.
If you are a type who wants to dive all the way into the management aspects of sim games, you will come out cold with Park Beyond. All management screens are very brief and you can’t do much tweaking. See that a particular attraction is suddenly doing poorly? Then find out why. At visitor info you can read what someone thinks of an attraction, but often from there it is impossible to figure out what exactly is causing it or what is going wrong. Thus, these things seem to be almost completely random. Regularly it happened that a flat ride turned a loss, but the visitors were all enthusiastic and also found the price reasonable. Moments later, the queue was full again without any adjustment.
What you need to take extra into account is the type of visitor in your park. In Park Beyond, you have to deal with families, teenagers and adults who each have their preferences. Adults will make you happy with a coffee shop, but teenagers prefer to seek out energy drinks. The same goes for rides and roller coasters, where you can add special “hooks” to the latter. These hooks give your roller coaster that extra bit of flair, catering to an area of interest of your visitor. This way you can create roller coasters that cover your entire park and get the hook sightseeing and so on. Per roller coaster you can choose two hooks by default and if you have impossified them, a third one will be added.
It is fun to see the groups of people walking through your park and there is more than enough to do with all the themes you can attach to your park. Building roller coasters is smooth, thanks in part to the live view of how your cart is doing. There are only two game modes and eight missions too few to keep many people entertained for a long time. Add to this the game’s bugs and imperfections, limited management options and Park Beyond quickly falls back into mediocrity.