Park Beyond – First Impressions (PS5)

Park Beyond has found a bit of breathing room between the months major AAA releases with its release today.

We’ve been fortunate to spend a bit of time with the game but not enough to give a full overview, both due to some issues with the PS5 build and because we had a few other reviews we were in the middle of covering.

That said, despite some of the difficulties with controlling the game and hard crashes, this is some of the most fun I’ve had with a management sim since, well, Theme Park.

And, of course, it should be no surprise to anyone that there’s some heavy influences with the Bullfrog classic. But Park Beyond also does things its own way, which I like and appreciate.

First the similarities. Once you get through the game’s unusual tutorial of building a rollercoaster through a metropolis, you’ll take charge of a fledging theme park that’s rundown and not been used in forever.

The rides are shutdown, the paths aren’t fully formed, so it’s up to you to sew it all up together and make it like home. Just like with Theme Park, you craft new paths, maintain the rides to make sure they’re in working order and get as many people in as you can to make money.

You build food stores, drink stands, toilets and benches. You hire staff to keep people entertained and janitors to pick up the waste. And you main intention is to make money while keeping happiness as high as you can, while raising your park’s level. Definitely not easy, but all very smart, intelligent and really enjoyable.

I found myself quickly getting hooked on trying to keep everyone’s happiness up, going into granular detail by affecting the price of individual items, taking some things off sale, adding things back on. Honestly, keeping a careful balance makes for a satisfying gameplay loop.

The differences do come, though. The campaign is a more cutscene heavy fare where you make decisions about the kind of projectiles and additions you want to add to your collection,  such as cannons and tunnels, chatting to new park members while learning more about how to perform certain actions.

You’ll also get the power of the Impossification where you can transform rides and fulfil your true artistic potential by creating something special and different by sketching out new details. It’s a really smart way of freshening up old rides and keeping your park different.

Parks can even get their own themes as well and be tailored towards teens, adults, even families. Will you go for a Sci-Fi theme or add some candy flair? You have to make the big calls in the campaign to decide which way to go or what feels appropriate for your pleasure plaza.

All told, it’s a really good game. I’ve already sunk a few hours into it and got a good feel for the mechanics and steadily got more comfortable navigating with the DualSense. Unfortunately, I do still need more time with the game to give a more clear verdict as I suffered a few issues in my playthrough between some hard crashes, a weighted camera that kept sinking through the floor and getting stuck in corners, in addition to the aforementioned challenging controls on PS5.

This is a game that feels like it’ll be best played on PC, in all honesty. Between the natural use of mouse and keyboard and the possibilities offered by the platform, the game definitely has its struggles on its console forebears.

But with a bit more time, I’ll make a more detailed determination. As mentioned, the build I played was a bit rough. There’s a good game buried under this, but it’s taken a bit to get to. For now, I’d recommend looking at playing this on PC over console, but hopefully more updates will bring things up to parity and make for a smoother experience overall.

Park Beyond releases today on PC, PlayStation and Xbox

Code kindly provided by Bandai Namco for review purposes.

Played on PlayStation 5 (based on Pre and Day One Patch)

Full overview to follow

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