Point and clicks aren’t for everyone. Some find them sleep inducing when what they really want is a high tempo adrenaline fuelled experience. However, even though some of us might enjoy a more relaxed experience from time to time, point and clicks can still be incredibly fun. You are basically taking control of an interactive movie. It still takes a lot of work though. There are puzzles to be solved after all, and they won’t solve themselves!
Beneath a Steel Sky is a point and click adventure game developed by Revolution Software and was published by Virgin Interactive Entertainment in 1994. Originally for MS-DOS and Amiga computers, it would be released for iOS in 2009, Apple Arcade and Steam in 2020, and GOG.com in 2022. For this review, I played the version downloaded from Steam.
Beneath a Steel Sky is based in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian future. The Earth is a very different place. Set in Australia and against the backdrop of an economic war, a young boy called Robert is the only survivor of a helicopter crash that occurred in ‘The Gap’, an area outside of Union City. Robert is found and adopted by some of the locals who protect him and teach him the necessary skills to survive in The Gap. Over the years, he learns engineering and robotics, and builds a sentient robotic friend called Joey. Joey’s memories and personality are stored on a microchip and can be installed into other robot bodies to utilise them.
One day, a group of soldiers arrive from Union City. They have been sent by LINC (Logical Inter-Neural Connection), a computer system that runs the city, with orders to take Robert into custody without an explanation as to why. As they fly back to Union City, their helicopter malfunctions, and crashes on the city’s upper level. Robert survives and flees into a recycling plant where he hides from his captors.
Played from a third-person perspective, Beneath a Steel Sky is a standard point and click game with simple controls. Using the cursor, you click on parts of the screen move Robert around the environment, or to look at, or interact with people and items. To progress in the game, you must solve puzzles which involve finding objects that can be combined with one another or part of the environment. When conversing with another character, you can ask questions or make statements using a dialogue tree which either furthers the plot or gives you hints as to how to progress in the game.
Using the mouse, the left button looks at the object or part of environment, and the right button allows you to interact with it. By moving your cursor to the top of the screen, the items in your inventory appear. Again, you can use the right mouse button to select the use of an item and drag it to where or who you wish to us it on.
How Does It Handle?
The game is simple to learn and to control, so you are able to dive straight in. One aspect of the controls I found annoying was that the “looking” button was the left mouse button, and the “action” button was on the right. I would have preferred this to be the other way around as it feels more intuitive for me.
Interestingly, you can actually die in this game, a rarity for point and clicks. Luckily you have infinite lives and you are simply taken back to your last save, so remember to save often.
Firstly, I love the comic book style introduction (and ending). It is a great way to start the game and engages you instantly with the background story. The in-game graphics have that typical SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) game look to them, which I love. The characters are all unique and the backgrounds are well designed and really give a sense of what a futuristic dystopian city might look like.
Music and SFX
For the most part, the music in many point and clicks are subtle and atmospheric, and at times, completely forgotten. However, in Beneath a Steel Sky, the music is a prominent feature and is very noticeable throughout. It feels like it is constantly changing from scene to scene to stop it from getting monotonous and there is a good mix of dramatic and playful. I found myself rather enjoying it.
This game has excellent dialogue with an array of accents. It is easy to see why it won an award for its dialogue. I really enjoyed the conversations, especially between Robert and Joey. The SFX in general, as I sit here and write this, I don’t really remember much. There are background noises like when you are walking through the factories, and sliding doors opening and closing but apart from that, I don’t seem to be able to remember much about them.
There are two endings to this game. A good one and a bad one. However, both endings were disappointing in my opinion. Although I enjoyed the game, it didn’t make me want to play through it again.
Did I Complete The Game?
Yes, I completed the game but had to use a walkthrough to assist me several times.
What The Critics Said:
PC Gamer Online: “A slick, funny, and absorbing adventure that will appeal to a wide variety of gamers–two thumbs up! Overall 91%”.
1995 Best Dialogue – PG Gamer
1995 Best Adventure – The Golden Joystick Awards 1995
“In my head, I imaged Beneath a Steel Sky to be a serious point and click. I didn’t expect the humour and quirky characters. The game looks great too, has memorable music and excellent dialogue. Not much in the way of replay value, but if you like point and clicks, you can’t go wrong.”
What are your memories of Beneath a Steel Sky? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame
 Poole, S., (December 1994). ‘Beneath a Steel Sky’. PC Gamer Online. (https://web.archive.org/web/20000311190200/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/178.html accessed on 13th January 2023).
 Petitte, O., (September 24, 2012). ‘Return to Rust: Beneath a Steel Sky 2 Confirmed’. (https://www.pcgamer.com/beneath-a-steel-sky-2-confirmed/ accessed 13th January 2023).
 Chalk, A., (24 September 2012). ‘Revolution Confirms Beneath the Sky a Steel Sky 2’. The Escapist. (https://web.archive.org/web/20140203035828/http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119762-Revolution-Confirms-Beneath-a-Steel-Sky-2 accessed 13th January 2023).