Park Beyond Preview: A Sufficient Sim

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I’ve been a sucker for simulation games for as long as I can remember, all the way back to SimCity on Super Nintendo. The newest dive into the genre is Bandai Namco’s Park Beyond; think Roller Coaster Tycoon fresh in 2022. I’m sure the company wants to set themselves apart, but the truth is, if you like one, you’ll like the other.

I got the chance to check out two missions and Sandbox Mode in Park Beyond. Although there will still be some kinks for the team over at Bandai Namco to work out, the game looks like it’s going to be in-depth and a lot of fun. I prefer simpler sims with premade buildings, no terraforming, on one level of flat land. Park Beyond is anything but simple, so those of you that like detailed customization, design and chaos, this game is for you!

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Right off the bat, I want to note that there is excellent detail in Park Beyond. Zooming in you can see what everyone is doing, the trash on the ground and how intricate the rides are. That being said, there are still some issues with running the game. 

First, I could get lost under the map—the zoom is very very strong. I also came across an issue where when I close the game on PC, it won’t actually exit the game. I can no longer access the window, but I have to physically go into Steam and click the “Stop” button. This is an early build, so I’m sure the kinks will be worked out before launch.

Park Beyond is anything but simple, so those of you that like detailed customization, design and chaos, this game is for you!”

Diving into Park Beyond gameplay, my first piece of advice is to do the missions. Though there are guides in Sandbox Mode, the controls for building a roller coaster alone are complicated and plentiful. It will take time to get used to them, and the missions are a great way to practice. The same goes for getting used to the different things you need to keep track of in game like staff, research, types of visitors and their needs. You will also need the missions to master Park Beyond’s many menus and meet a few of the game’s key characters.

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The first mission takes you through building a coaster with twists and turns, ups and downs through a busy city. You’ll learn about adjusting the height, yaw, roll and pitch of the coaster, as well as different kinds of tracks and modules (like cannons to launch your cars long distances!). You can build almost anything you want to, but it is so very easy to make mistakes, so make sure to test your roller coaster often while building.

Testing your roller coasters in Park Beyond is fun or frustrating depending on how well you construct them. As you build, it will continue to run through its testing to show you where a problem might arise. This will help you remember to use chain links to pull the car up the tracks, adjust things like the yaw and pitch to help keep momentum, or connect anything that may be broken. You can jump into the car itself and see your ride in first person, or let the test run its course and check in later.

It does help to note that if getting into the nitty-gritty of designing a coaster isn’t for you, there are prefabs available that you can connect together to build your ride without handling the more complicated steps. There are options like Corkscrew, Hammerhead, Helix, Pretzel Loop and more. These are also still customizable if you want to change little details, but you don’t have to, and I really appreciate being able to skip that step.

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Though building completely chaotic roller coasters feels like the star of Park Beyond, for myself, building a functional park was far more interesting and a lot less tedious. You can build your park to cater to one specific group of people (teens, adults or families), or make a nice balance for all three. This is part of what our second mission focused on. Various happy and sad faces will tell you what demographic likes what kind of buildings, food etc, which is a pretty easy guide to follow.

The more visitors enjoy your rides, the more “Amazement” you’ll earn. This is used to “Impossify” attractions and staff, which essentially means improving them. There is an Amazement HUD at the top of the screen, once that is full you can Impossify a new object to evolve rides, get gadgets for staff and more. It’s an interesting take on how to improve your park, but perhaps a tad gimmicky. 

So far, I still can’t tell just how much will be available in Park Beyond at launch. There are differences in the menu between Sandbox Mode and missions. I would think there would be more available in Sandbox Mode (much like creative mode in Minecraft), but there is actually less so far. In the state it is in now, I’d have to say that somehow Park Beyond manages to simultaneously have an incredible amount of customization, and not enough. 

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You can build high and low or change colours and pieces of buildings to your heart’s content. However, there are currently only 6 kinds of paths, and though the scenery options are plentiful, I don’t think they are quite up to snuff. I think this is especially true with how intricate the rides look. Hopefully this improves in the final game. 

You can also build your park whichever way you choose, but there are themes available as well, like Western, Candyville, DaVinci and Alien Planet. Again, very specific niches, and some please one demographic and not the other. It doesn’t feel balanced, but it’s hard to say without a clear picture of the final items available.

I would say that Park Beyond is a pretty standard simulation game for 2022, but a fresh place to get some of that creativity out of your system can never hurt. Terraforming, creating themes, pleasing your customers, managing staff, budgeting your money, building rides and doing all of that while hoping your patrons don’t get nauseous is everything I could ask for in an amusement park simulator. 

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