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Park Beyond Preview – Impossify This

More thrills, less safety standards

Ever since I was given a hand-me-down copy of Theme Park World on the original PlayStation, I’ve found something quite alluring about games that’ll let me design and manage any kind of public attraction. But while the genre has seen many entries in the years since, my preference for the console side of the video game hardware spectrum has meant limited access to these experiences, largely geared toward PC hardware as they are.

Enter Park Beyond, a game that’s been designed from the ground up for both PC as well the new generation of home consoles, and promises a park-building experience beyond anything we’ve seen yet. Shown off during the Gamescom Opening Night Live presentation, Park Beyond’s reveal trailer has given the world a glimpse into its unique qualities and overall vision, but thanks to our friends Bandai Namco Entertainment we’ve been lucky enough to take a tiny peek behind the curtain and see a little more of what it has to offer.

With German developer Limbic Entertainment (Tropico 6, Memories of Mars) at the helm, Park Beyond looks to take the classical ideas of a theme park-sim and crank everything up to 11 by virtue of a game-changing mechanic called Impossification. You can see glimpses of Impossification at work in the Gamescom trailer, where the usual fare of theme park rides is taken to an impossible (and probably highly dangerous) level of thrills – whether it’s a triple-level carousel ride, a kraken literally throwing carriages of park-goers into the air or a ferris wheel with (count ’em) eleven wheels. Luckily for us, key members of the Limbic team were on hand to further explain Impossification and what else sets their game apart.

It all starts with a story-driven campaign, where players embody the visionary architect of their theme park and take on a mission-based progression that sees them work alongside a cast of characters to become the stuff of theme park legend. You’ll see Phil and Izzy in the trailer, Phil being the eccentric dreamer and Izzy being the financial realist, and these two become your partners in park-building. There will be heavy elements of decision-making in the game with players needing to take regular meetings with Phil and Izzy to decide the direction of their parks through proposals and compromises that will ultimately decide player milestones and goals in the game proper.

This is bolstered by the kind of deep park management systems that you’d expect from the genre, with players tasked to make all-important decisions around staffing, finances, park pricing and managing visitor happiness – all the hallmarks of a good park builder. The team weren’t quite ready to talk about the specifics of things like shops and food, and whether anything outside of the rides themselves can be subject to Impossification, but it’d definitely be neat to see them get nice and weird with things here.

Over-the-top flat rides are one thing, but theme park connoisseurs know that an establishment lives or dies by the quality of its rollercoasters, and from the footage we saw and what we learned from the team it looks like Park Beyond has that covered. The modular coaster system was designed with ease of use and creative freedom in mind and looks incredibly quick and intuitive to use to churn out thrilling coasters. The Impossification system makes a return here with modules that can be added such as cannons that’ll fire your park-goers from one track to another. It’s good to see that players will be able to experience the ride themselves as well in either a first-person or cinematic view. I do wonder, based on footage we saw of the track being placed in the surrounding forest of the map, how much scope there’ll be to expand parks or place things around the outskirts, but I guess that’s something we’ll wait to see in future.

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Visually everything looks to come together in a way not dissimilar to something like Planet Coaster, with a cartoonish look that can be tailored with various park themes. We saw examples like the Candyland and Western theme which both looked great, and hopefully the finished release ships with even more. Despite the hyper-stylised look, it’s a strong overall presentation packed with detail and life and that probably owes quite a lot to the fact that this is a PC and nu-gen console release only with no PS4 or Xbox One support in sight as of now. As far as consoles go, Limbic promises that the experience has been designed with players on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S in mind and hopes to deliver something that plays better than competing sims where playability with a controller has traditionally been something of an afterthought.

The announcement of Park Beyond was definitely a surprise, and given the existence of other contemporary park builders I was initially concerned that this one might not have much reason to stand out. But after seeing it in action and hearing the team’s passion for making something that’s not only innovative but incredibly playable I’ll admit I’m pretty damned keen.

Park Beyond is currently slated for release in 2022 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. I can’t wait to create plenty of potential lawsuits.

Written By Kieron Verbrugge

Kieron's been gaming ever since he could first speak the words "Blast Processing" and hasn't lost his love for platformers and JRPGs since. A connoisseur of avant-garde indie experiences and underground cult classics, Kieron is a devout worshipper at the churches of Double Fine and Annapurna Interactive, to drop just a couple of names.


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