by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Who doesn't love an amusement park? The thrilling rides, the entertaining shows, and the aroma of the delicious (but often overpriced) food wafting throughout. There is no doubt that everyone has their favourite, and it would often depend on the theme of the park. From Old West themed parks to those that focus on movies or movie stars, or even those that feature Lego bricks, there is a theme park that caters for everyone.
I have long been someone who also enjoys the PC version of theme parks too, from 1994's Theme Park and the various iterations of Rollercoaster Tycoon. Designing my own theme park full of crazy rides and then making sure the parks make enough money to keep improving is so much fun. Park Beyond is the latest offering that puts players in the shoes of a theme park manager, allowing players to build their ultimate amusement park.
The preview version we had the chance to test starts off with a meeting with Blaize, a contractor of sorts, who shows players through the important aspects of laying a rollercoaster. The tutorial guides players through how to raise and lower the track, add in some cool features such as a ramp, and how to use pitch and yaw to your advantage. If you have played any sort of theme park game, this should feel familiar, and if not, then it is quite intuitive. Once players begin their first park, they'll learn how to place other rides and stalls so that visitor to the park will enjoy their stay. The rides and food stalls are often tailored to different demographics – Adults, Families, and Teens - and so players will need to select the rides that focus on their clientele.
Park Beyond has dozens of rides to select from and a range of design choices can mean that players can design the rides to follow a particular theme you have in mind – hopefully, one that will attract people through the gates and onto the rides. The parks can be decorated accordingly too, with greenery, signage and other decorations to give the park added colour and be more presentable.
Keeping the park clean
It is all well and good having a great range of rides and attractions, but it will all be for nought if visitors don't feel comfortable in the park. If it is full of trash and vomit (from the combination of fast food and thrilling rides), people won't want to stay, or even return. As such, players will need to 'decorate' their parks with items such as trash cans for them to dispose of their rubbish and benches to let them rest after a particularly vigorous ride.
Of course, park attendees do not always do the right thing when it comes to disposing of rubbish and so players will need to hire cleaning staff to tidy up their mess. It is not just cleaners that need to be hired though if players want the park to run smoothly. There's nothing worse than waiting in long queues for your favourite ride or for something to eat, so entertainers can be hired to keep visitors entertained whilst they are waiting. And although the rides may start out as shiny and smooth flowing, to keep them that way you'll need to employ someone to keep them in top condition.
The game is not just about placing rides and food stalls though. Profit plays a large part in determining how you'll perform, and so park managers will need to micromanage the prices of rides and food to ensure that guests are willing to pay for rides and consume food. Putting the price of a ride too high will result in visitors bypassing the ride, whilst setting the price too low will result in the park losing money. It can be a fine line to find that optimal point.
There are several overlays to help identify problem issues including whether a ride or food stall is profitable, whether a ride is well-maintained and safe to enjoy, happiness amongst the park visitors, and even drill-down to each attendee to checkout their impressions on the park and what could be improved.
Hearing the screams…of delight
The cut-scenes are fully voiced, with the owner Phil giving off a crazy old man vibe with crazy ride ideas, whilst Izzy has the air of a corporate executive who wants to make sure that the park runs smooth at the expense of fun. Each of the characters that help you along the way have their own style. As well as that, when you zoom around the park inspecting your achievements, it is great to hear the sounds of visitors enjoying themselves. And the wonderful things is, you can join them. Once the rides have been completed, it is enjoyable to view the ride from a passenger's perspective. With the rollercoasters this is particularly important, as players get an idea how exciting the ride is. Players can ride the rails of their creations and check out the scenery surrounding the park in the process.
Get into the queue!
From what we have seen so far from Park Beyond, lovers of amusement parks and games of the genre are in for a treat. With a campaign mode for those looking for a challenge and a sandbox mode for those wanting to simply build the latest and greatest rollercoaster, Park Beyond offers it all. With a simple interface and intuitive controls, it is easy to get your park up and running with visitor flowing through the turnstiles. And after designing all these wonderful rides, it is great to sit back and take a visitor's eye view of each of your thrilling creations.
And for those who want to try their hand at designing and managing their own park, the Park Beyond Closed Beta Test will be held from May 9th to 19th on PC. You can register here. And as always, follow Hooked Gamers on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.