Park Beyond Review - an impossibly fun theme park simulator

park beyond review - a visioneer in front of a sprawling theme park

park beyond review - a visioneer in front of a sprawling theme park

Limbic Entertainment’s Park Beyond wants you to do the impossible. The Tropico developer’s spiritual successor to Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 does away with the restrictions of physics to provide a mind-bending, Tomorrowland-like experience to your bustling theme park of thousands of guests. However, while the new theme park simulator does dabble in exploring the impossible, you, the player, are still tethered to practicality. And while there is enough space to create the rides of your dreams, not everything your brain can imagine can be achieved. Nevertheless, Limbic’s first jab at the momentously imposing park tycoon subgenre is still a joy to experience.

Park Beyond is a game of two halves: campaign and sandbox. The latter mode is what you’d expect of every theme park tycoon game — you’re given an empty plot and tasked with building the world’s greatest theme park. On the other hand, the game’s campaign mode offers a basic, albeit cinematic, extended tutorial to get park managers acquainted with the basics of running their own theme park.

In the campaign mode, you play as a “Visioneer”, Park Beyond’s version of Disneyland’s Imagineers. One day, your mind-bending coaster design is discovered by the thrill-seeking Blaize Megatronic who tasks you with building a fully functioning rollercoaster through a bustling city. Straight off the bat, Limbic Entertainment wants you to know that the impossible is possible, but only when it allows you to.

Park Beyond review - blaize megatronic talking to the player
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In Park Beyond's campaign, you get to choose from several options that will change the tools you unlock.

The rest of the campaign missions are scarce more than tutorialized versions of the game’s sandbox mode. While some missions task you with battling against a rival park, for the most part you’re simply playing the game with minor restrictions and cutscenes with board members guiding you in the right direction.

Of course, it’s the sandbox mode where Park Beyond really comes into its own, a blank canvas for you to create the theme park of your dreams. You’ll place down flat rides like Drop Towers and Ferris Wheels, construct connecting paths, position shops, toilets, benches and trash cans to make your park guests as happy as they can possibly be.

At its core, this theme park tycoon is exactly how you remember Rollercoaster Tycoon, albeit with more of the customisation you expect from deeper, more sim-focused options like Planet Coaster. While it’s not as deep or as content-packed as Planet Coaster, Limbic’s more casual-style tycoon manager has the perfect amount of depth to not overwhelm newcomers to the genre.

park beyond review - a first person rollercoaster ride through the mouth of a giant shark head
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Every ride has a Ride Cam mode, allowing you to view your park from your guests' point of view

While you build, you’ll have to keep a keen eye on your funds, micromanaging the price of tickets and individual food items to keep everything profitable without annoying guests. You’ll also have to make sure you have enough mechanics, janitors, entertainers and more, and the space to let them rest.

As your park expands, you’ll increase your appeal, unlocking new rides, shops, scenery props and more. There are certainly limitations; as with all park sims on launch, there are only a handful of themes to choose from and a rather sparse selection of props for each. Nevertheless, there is enough here to make a branching, varied theme park, but an actual themed park is difficult to map without intense repetition.

Some of these restrictions are due to the limitations in the ways you can manipulate individual props. Every scenery prop allows you to change its size and rotation, allowing for variations as you clutter up areas with crates, shrubbery and more. However, prop sizes are sadly restricted, stopping you from making small rocks big and big rocks small. While this does help to stop lower-poly models from looking bad at scale, it also limits creativity, especially with such a small pool of props.

These restrictions are even apparent in the biggest draw of any theme park simulator: rollercoaster construction. With a rather modest height limit of around 160 meters (and 100m underground), you’re able to build some incredibly intense rollercoasters, but not the most intense of any park sim. For example, you aren’t able to recreate the infamous 500m Euthanasia Coaster, but you can recreate any real-life coaster.

These restrictions are completely fine for what Park Beyond is, but they’re only weird due to the game’s complete promise of being able to do the impossible. This promise is the core of the game’s experience with its impossify mechanic allowing you to turn flat rides and rollercoasters into impossible versions of traditional rides. The spinning top comes off the track and launches into the air; pirate ships split into pieces and slide between each other; the haunted house levitates above the floor with tentacle-like tree roots sprawling from beneath.

park beyond review - a massive blue rollercoaster that sprawls across a valley with numerous inversions
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Unlimited money equals colossal coasters designed to make everyone vom, pass out, or perish.

This impossible nature does find its way into rollercoaster building as well, giving you the option to shoot passengers across the park in canons, skim across the water and ground, and more. However, your coasters’ tracks still need to be possibly designed to make sure they don’t crash and burn, a fact that feels at odds with the impossify mechanic.

Nevertheless, Park Beyond is a great starting point for another brilliant theme park tycoon. While Planet Coaster is deeper and more complex, Beyond is the successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon that fans have begged for. It’s casual in the exact same way, while still offering its own complexities. If you want to manage a park, you can, but you can also load into a blank canvas with unlimited money and go ham on creating the coasters of your dreams.

In one sandbox attempt, I crafted a zoned amusement park filled with detailed ride areas that I properly decorated. My haunted house was dressed in a dead forest constructed of bushes, leafless trees and thick fog spewing from every crevice. On the top of the house, a witch stirring a potion in her cauldron; in the trees, an animatronic crow caws at the crowd; a ghost runs down a rail deep in the shrubbery. Down the path, I decorated a huge rollercoaster in an aquatic theme with waterfalls falling onto the ride, a The Meg-sized open-mouth shark head and even a smaller hidden shark with a propeller hat on its head.

Park Beyond review, a haunted house ride set in a thick dead forest
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Everyone wants to see my hype haunted house, and who can blame them?

Park Beyond’s editor lends itself very nicely to those who love to set dress, allowing you to make an incredibly detailed environment with enough clever manipulation of the tools you’re handed. It offers the same childlike joy of spilling out a box of LEGO. Without instruction, you’re able to put your mind to work to create dense, magical environments that put parks like Alton Towers to absolute shame.

While there are issues with Park Beyond, they’re all minor inconsistencies on top of a fun and functional park sim. At the end of the day, Limbic Entertainment’s first stab at the genre is a resounding hit with enough depth to warrant even the most hardcore virtual imagineers to craft sprawling creations in its cartoony, impossible world.

With promises to support the game in the future, Limbic’s new simulator could become an incredible entry in the genre. If mod support can also be added in the future, this is a game that could potentially survive for many years to come, and I hope it does.

Park Beyond
Limbic Entertainment's Park Beyond is a fantastic start for what could be the next Rollercoaster Tycoon.
Park Beyond
8 out of 10

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