Beneath a Steel Sky (1994)

Beneath a Steel Sky (1994), designed by Charles Cecil, Dave Cummins, Dave Gibbons and Daniel Marchant, developed by Revolution Software, published by Virgin Interactive

If you've ever played the old point-and-click classic, Beneath a Steel Sky, you probably remember the intro that was presented in the form of comic book panels. What you might not know, or remember, is that the intro was drawn by Dave Gibbons, a British comic book artist perhaps the best known for his work on Alan Moore's Watchmen. The comic Gibbons did for the intro was also provided, at least on some releases, with the game in a physical format and later on digitally.

Somewhere in the future, a part of the population lives in the gap, the great Australian desert in small tribes, while the other part lives in gargantuan megacities. Robert Foster ended up in the gap the day his mother died in a helicopter crash and he was adopted by a local tribe.

One day, Robert's village is attacked and he is kidnapped by the troops from one of the biggest cities in the area, Union City, a humongous city with cloud-scraping buildings and where people's place in society is determined by how close to the surface they live. The higher you are on the social scale, the lower you live. And one of the first obstacles Robert finds is the question of how he can get lower in order to escape the city.

 Before Robert is taken to the head honchos of Union City, the copter he is in crashes, allowing Robert to escape his captors. Now, Robert is trapped at the highest levels of the city and he needs to find his way down and perhaps even find out WHY he was kidnapped in the first place. Luckily, he doesn't have to step on this adventure alone, as he has the logic board of his robot Joey, who can help him through several tight spots. If Robert can find a proper shell for him, that is.

After some social descending, Robert finally finds out the truth. He was not kidnapped randomly, he was taken, because his father, Overmann, had designed the city's AI systems, LINC, supervising the city. That's not all though, Overmann had also strapped himself into the LINC controls as the computer needed human brains to function. Overmann is old and close to death, so LINC had decided, that his son would be the next best thing.

 Of course, Robert doesn't see things the same way. He doesn't want to spend his remaining days as an AI host, but luckily for him, there was an android project, through which he manages to inject Joey into the chair, leaving his robot pal to take care of business, as he returns back to the wasteland.

Beneath a Steel Sky is a great adventure, made just a couple of years before the adventure genre started to lose its lustre. When it came out, Doom had just entered the scene and was proving to be something that attracted more people. Not that Doom hurt the game's sales any, it just has always felt like a game that was somewhat forgotten, despite it was, as a game, far better than Lure of the Temptress, Revolution's first game. And a couple of years later, they released the first Broken Sword game, which more or less became their meal ticket series for a while.

 This all is not to say, that Beneath is a bad game, not at all. It does have a fair amount of old-school adventure annoyances like pixel hunting, but other than that, it is a solid, relatively well-made adventure game. It certainly loses very little in comparison to the big two of the genre at the time, Sierra and Lucasfilm. The game looks pretty decent and the voice acting is decent for the era's standards. The soundtrack it has is rather horrendous, but that's what music controls are for. 

The best part about Beneath the Steel Sky nowadays is, that you can get it for free, so if you want to play it, all you need to invest is time. Those hankering for some good, old-fashioned point-and-click adventuring need do little else but head to GOG or Steam to redeem the freebie. Both places should have the digital comic as well. The game itself runs in ScummVM, so you can play it on any platform that is supported by it, so you can enjoy it the way you want. 

Also, there's apparently a remastered version for Apple devices, but of that, I don't know anything about.