Hands-on: Park Beyond – Gamescom 2022

When I was younger, I played a lot of park-building simulators but nowadays it’s a genre that is often forgotten by developers. Sure, Planet Coaster proved to the world that the genre can still be relevant but it never got a worthy competitor. Enter Park Beyond, Bandai Namco’s take on the classic genre but it comes with a twist! Let’s jump in.

A normal theme park? BORING

Theme Parks are a place filled with magic. From thrilling rides to gorgeous decor, when done right, a theme park can certainly leave a lasting impression. And yet, they all are a bit identical, offering variations on the same concept. In different parks, you’ll often find similar types of rides, most of the time with different decorations of course, but the ride itself often feels familiar. In Park Beyond they want to go beyond that (roll credits). In this game, you’re hired as a new visionary, someone who dares to think outside of the box and create some of the most impressive rides of your life. Some might even say impossible rides. Blasting from one canon to the other, hovering in the air, being slapped around by a real yeti… Those are impossible things for theme parks but nothing is impossible in Park Beyond. They even named a mechanic after it!

 

 

By impossifying normal rides, you turn a pedestrian experience into something right out of the extraordinary. The rides you’re creating here aren’t that straightforward, the game pushes you to think outside of the box and even in the short introduction level I played, I managed to create a rather spectacular rollercoaster in the end.

Time for your first rollercoaster

For the sake of the demo, I played this game with mouse and keyboard. Since the game is also coming to the current generation of consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X/S) the final product will of course support full controller support. The developers ensured us that creating your park will be as easy with the controller as it is with mouse and keyboard. We couldn’t test it yet but the mouse and keyboard offered a fluent and fun experience.

 

 

As said before, the goal of the level was to create my first rollercoaster. I needed to follow a golden paper plane by building some tracks to follow it throughout the park. I needed to adjust to the controls at first but once it clicked, it clicked good. Creating your rollercoaster isn’t hard at all and it’s amazing to see how many different elements were introduced in such a short period of time. From taking sharp curves to gaining height and dropping down low, I had my tracks under control in no time. It started as a rather simple rollercoaster but the more I created, the more crazy it all got. I added some canons, tunnels and even chain lifts to reach a dazzling altitude. After fifteen minutes of gameplay, I created a rollercoaster that went through mountains, over rooftops and right between a crowded town center. I love how the game takes you by hand to explain the mechanics while still leaving plenty of room to get creative. I can’t wait to see what I’m able to create in the full retail version!

Early conclusion

My Gamescom demo convinced me that Park Beyond is the next big thing for the genre. It’s easy to start creating your own theme park but the options will force you to think outside of the box and come up with some of the craziest rides ever created. There’s also going to be an immersive story mode where you’ll get to know the charismatic characters a bit better. I can’t wait!