INFLUENCES # 1: BENEATH A STEEL SKY
We’re going to use this space to briefly talk about things that have influenced us when it comes to making video games like Personal Rocket. And we start with Beneath A Steel Sky (or simply BASS), an adventure game classic from 1994, our favorite from Revolution studios (yes, we know that later they made the Broken Sword games, but we’re still more fond of BASS).
The game takes place in a dystopian future Australia where civilization lives in mega-city-states, the poor living among factories, in towering buildings in a deplorable state, and the rich below, protected from pollution and everything. In this world we follow the story of Robert Foster and his robot friend, the joyful Joey, as they try to discover Foster’s origins and the mystery behind the mega city’s control.
One of the things that fascinates us the most about BASS is the sudden tonal changes. People like director Bong Joon-ho and our beloved Thomas Pynchon made their entire careers out of radical tonal changes. The game goes from the most serious and complex science fiction to absurdism and basic jokes and back to seriousness. Thus it manages to keep us in an atmosphere of strangeness at all times, partly thanks to the visual designs of Dave Gibbons (famous for being the artist of the original Watchmen).
The other factor that adds to this aura is something that happened by accident, and it’s that the game was not actually finished. So there are certain scenarios where there is nothing to do, as there were plans to put puzzles there but there was no time or budget to do it. This resulted in empty settings where you simply wander, where the silence, loneliness and decadence of these places end up accentuating the feelings of strangeness.
Revolution has made the game free for PC for several years now, and luckily it also has subtitles in a couple of languages. You can download it at GOG.
And there’s more good news! After 26 years a sequel has been released: Beyond A Steel Sky. The bad news is that we haven't played it yet and have nothing to say about it. For now.
Until next time!