Earlier this year Revolution released a Director's Cut for the highly-acclaimed Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. It was something of a treat for Wii and DS owners alike, upgrading a classic point-n-clicker with some swanky re-drawn graphics and a shiny new interface. Now Charles Cecil and his team have applied the same formula to an even older game - the much-loved Beneath a Steel Sky. But this time, it's iPhone owners who are getting the goodies.
Beneath a Steel Sky is 15 years old now, but time has done little to douse the fiery passions of the game's fan base. Like Broken Sword, BaSS is widely regarded as being one of the best entries in the whole genre - a winning combination of smart puzzles, witty humour and a great sci-fi setting. These core elements are as strong today as they've always been, and now everything kicks off with an animated intro, courtesy of Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons.
Back in the day BaSS shipped with a comic that set out the back-story. Gibbons' new intro takes these pages and animates them with a crude, cut-out style that is somehow kitsch and yet hugely endearing. The movie follows the heroic-looking Robert Foster as he's plucked from his adopted tribe and taken to the futuristic Union City - a dystopian maze of towers and walkways. Rob soon escapes his captors and finds himself on the run in a strange new world, aided by his only friend - a sardonic robot named Joey.
BaSS plays much like any other point and click adventure: you walk around, talk to everyone you can find and pick up everything that isn't glued to the floor. However, the devil is in the detail: unlike many of its contemporaries, this game rarely leaves you without a clue about how you are to proceed. You'll invariably know what you need to do, but perhaps not how to do it. Puzzles are generally well thought-out and satisfying to solve, but if you do get stuck the newly-included hint system is always there to help you.
The new touch controls took me a little while to master, but then I don't own an iPhone. Long-term users should have no problems from the get-go, since the game wisely assists you with object interaction. Back in the day you'd have to drag an item from your inventory to a precise sweet spot in the game world; now the system will second guess what you're trying to do, highlighting the name of interactive objects as soon as you're in the right area, sparing you much frustration.
Revolution's Broken Sword remake suffered from the occasional patch of muffled audio, but here the re-sampled voice tracks are as clear as a bell. BaSS is a genuinely funny game, boasting the kind of clever humour that we all too rarely see these days. Indeed, if this release will teach you anything, it's that they don't make 'em like the used to. Whether you're an established fan of puzzle adventures or just a newcomer to the genre, Beneath a Steel Sky is an absolute delight.