For anyone who has ever dabbled in the theme park sim genre, chances are, the presence of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series looms large. Sure, there have been many attempts in different ways to try to recapture that magic, but it is safe to say that there hasn’t really been a true contender to take the crown. However, Limbic Entertainment and Bandai Namco are giving it their best shot with Park Beyond, and so far, we are impressed.
Having spent a couple of hours going through the gears, there was no doubting that wave of comforting nostalgia coupled with new and interesting mechanics during the experience. There is a measured approach here by the developers, both on ushering veterans into a familiar world, while not forgetting the newcomers and introducing a more modern take on things.
There is a semblance of a larger story at play in Park Beyond, but for now, it is the park action that truly captures the imagination of anyone hoping to put together the best theme park there is and get happy guests through the gates. Depending on certain choices made, players can figure out their target audience for the park, the decorative theme that ties everything together, and go ham on creativity and freedom.
Anyone who has played a game from the genre should feel right at home, but Park Beyond does make some welcomed refinements that help make the experience just better. The way paths just work so well, how placing down buildings is easy and intuitive, and the way the game focuses more on fun rather than realism seems to be the best tonic for a genre that has not set the world on fire of late.
While some may argue that more realistic simulations are the way to go, just witnessing a crazy rollercoaster come to life, with cannons firing off cars for height and excitement and frantic drops to finish things off, is exactly what Park Beyond is aiming for. The whole idea of making the impossible, well, possible, is at the heart of everything in this colourful sim.
Guests may pay for rides, food, and entrance fees, but their value also comes in terms of their feedback and enjoyment of the park. Cater to their needs, and players will build up a meter that essentially helps the park level up, unlocking doors to even more wacky additions that can enhance rides even further.
A normal pirate ship can be turned into a giant attraction with an actual, live octopus getting its tentacles on submarines for one, and if that is not the epitome of going all out in the name of fun and enjoyment, we have no idea what is. The normal formula of gaining new rides is certainly complemented by this Impossification mechanic and allows Park Beyond to come to life in a way only it could.
Players are more likely to go above and beyond to keep feeding off this process, making sure the park is becoming better at serving increasingly satisfied customers. Rather than sitting back and racking in the cash, it makes for a much more engaging experience throughout each and every level.
It remains to be seen if that magic will wear off, but for now, Park Beyond is building on an established formula with its own twists, and succeeding quite well at it. Such games should always be about experimentation and enjoying oneself, and on that front, there really isn’t anything to complain about. If the final product can continue to keep us eager for more, Park Beyond might just be able to surpass the master and take the top spot for itself.
Park Beyond will launch on 16 June for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Interested players can check out the closed beta test happening from 9 to 19 May to get a taste for themselves.