Beneath a Steel Sky
1992 was a good year for adventure games. We saw a sequel to the funniest adventure ever, Monkey Island 2, graphical splendour in the shape of King's Quest VI, accurate television folklore with Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and possibly the best all-round adventure ever, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. But amongst all these marvels, one other game was receiving its fair share of the applause. With a clever storyline, attractive presentation and a unique handling of characters and locations. Revolution Software's Lure of the Temptress turned many a head.
What made Lure so different from everything else was a clever little system called Virtual Theatre. Whereas in most adventure games everything revolves around the central character (i.e., whatever isn't on the screen doesn't exist until the character is due to interact with it). Virtual Theatre keeps every location, every character and every object in the game alive, regardless of what the player happens to be doing at the time. Say you talk to a blacksmith then leave his screen to go off and do something else. The blacksmith will continue to exist and will wander around the available locations - in Lure's case, a small village called Turnvale - doing as blacksmiths would most likely do in real life. Basically, the world in a Virtual Theatre game continues to exist whether the player decides to get involved or not.
How it all began
Charles Cecil is the head honcho at Revolution. He recalls how Beneath a Steel Sky was first created: 'While at Activision, I had met Dave Gibbons (British comic artist, best known for Watchmen). It seemed to me that, although he was relatively unknown in the uk, he was revered as a genius in France, Germany and the us. I considered that, thanks to his immense creative abilities, Dave could provide very valuable experience to our type of product.
'In August 1991, we approached him and asked if he would help us with a new project that we were working on. Mirrorsoft agreed to commission the project, which we called Underworld (Origin had not produced a game of that name at this stage). With the demise of Mirrorsoft in December, the game had been put on the backburner until things were sorted out.
'In March 1992, we approached Virgin and asked them if they wanted to take Underworld as well as Lure. They accepted the project on the proviso that it was written using the Virtual Theatre II system, which is an enhanced version of Virtual Theatre. Dave Gibbons was commissioned to provide input into the design and draw the background screens.' The design work for Underworld - or Beneath a Steel Sky as it had to be later named - started again in April 1992. Six months of design work was re-evaluated and the project was started over.
It had originally been planned that Beneath a Steel Sky would be written using the same system that drove Lure of the Temptress. However, a thorough analysis showed that there were several aspects of Virtual Theatre that could be improved. 'The main one,' explains Charles, 'was that there were too many boxes on-screen, which could become confusing, especially when there were multiple conversations taking place in a location. Eventually we decided that the system should be completely enhanced to overcome this, as well as other problems.'
It was found that there was only one possible way of interacting with many of the objects. For instance, interacting with a door would open it if it was closed, and close it if it was open; interacting with the bolt would lock it if it was unlocked, or unlock it if it was locked.
'In this way, the interaction with objects can be quick and painless,' says Charles. 'To ensure that this did not close down the scope of puzzles we increased the number of problems that require a second portable object. For example, to open the fire door in the first screen, the player needs to pull a bar from the guard-rail and use it to prise open the lock.'
A few months ago, Charles was quoted as saying that Revolution would continue to develop almost all of their products for low-spec machines. Now it seems that even this last bastion of hope for 640K 286 owners is falling. 'We may even have to go to two Meg of memory to get all the animations in,' he sighs.
This does seem to be the only way he'll get his games to match the quality of his American counterparts' - a task that Charles set himself when Virtual Theatre began. With Lure of the Temptress, his main goal was to get people to compare it favourably to The Secret of Monkey Island. This time he's looking for equally favourable comparisons to LucasArts' sequel.
As one of the few serious British adventure creators (at last count there were only two), valiantly defending our two shores against LucasArts, Sierra and Dynamix on one side, and Delphine, Infogrames and Coktel Vision on the other, Charles is keen for people to rate Beneath a Steel Sky above all those competitors' products. And thanks to the uniqueness of the Virtual Theatre system, that may just become the case.
Hobbins, Alarm, Joey, Transporter
Firstly, pick up the metal bar near the stairs and use it to open the fire exit. Go back and down the stairs, through the doorway on the right and -try to use the lift.
Hobbins will enter and nip off to deactivate the alarm. Quickly head right and open the cupboard. Take the sandwich and the spanner before returns. Go left again and use the transporter. It won't work so quiz Hobbins on its rubbishness. He'll tell you what's wrong with it, so use the circuit board with the junk at the front of the room to activate Joey. Ask old Joe boy to fix it and tell him what's wrong with it. He'll duly repair the damn thing and it will start to move. Wait until the lift goes "descend" and climb down the hole.
Security Guard, Spanner, Storeroom
Wait for Joey and then ask him to unlock the door. When the security guard arrives, do what he says and wait patiently for him to be killed. Search his body, lifting the id card and plastic glasses. Head through the door and then right. Aim for the door on the far right and talk to the woman. Talk to the supervisor when he arrives and then go right to use the spanner on the cogs in the machine. Grab the spanner and go left. Use the spanner with the robot shell and talk to Joey. Go right again and try to walk into the storeroom. The man will stop you when the alarm goes off. Talk to Joey and ask him to have a quick gander around the storeroom. When he exits, talk to him again and order him to disable the fuse box in the storeroom. When he exits again, go in yourself. Use the grating over the gap and pick up the WD40, the key and the putty from under the grating. Ask Joey to analyse the putty - it is plastic explosive.
Body Search, Buttons, Switches
Exit and the man will search you. He'll take the sandwich, the glasses, the key and the WD40 - but don't worry about it. Go back down the hallway and use the id card on the Line Terminal. Have a shufty around the personal section and other areas, then exit and go left, left again and into the room at the far end. Use the spanner of the two jammed buttons, then tell Joey to push both buttons simultaneously. A pipe will burst and the old man will leave. Pick up the lightbulb and push the switch. Use the plastic explosive in the light socket and push the switch again. The control panel door will open. Push both switches inside. Leave the power station and ride the lift down using the card.
Ticket, Anita, Jammer
Go left and into the apartments. Use the id card in the left-hand slot and go inside. Move the pillow to find the magazine. Exit back to the hall and head right twice. Go to the travel agents and ask to buy a ticket. In the end. swap the magazine for a ticket. Leave the room and go back to the apartments. Talk to Gallagher and wait for Lamb to return. Give the ticket to Lamb and then follow him. Ask him for the tour he promised and follow him again. He will ask the man (Potts) why the conveyer belt has stopped and lose his temper. When he leaves, go right and talk to Anita. Give your card to her and she'll place a "jammer" on it. Go find a Line terminal and select "4 Security Services". You should now be able to pass the retina scan. Choose "Special Operations" and then "File Adjustment" and enter no.'s 1 and 2. Lamb's line status will now be zero, he will not be able to get down the lift, and his account will be empty. Hah-hah. Exit and go to the lift.
Lamb's Cat, Doctor Burke, Anchor
Wait for Lamb to arrive and ask him what his problem is. He will let you into his apartment to feed his cat. Once there, grab the video cassette and use it on his vcr. Don't forget to feed the cat before you leave. Go to Anchor Insurance and tell Joey to use his welder on the anchor. Anchor will, unfortunately, stop him, so exit and head for Burkes Bio Surgery. Chat to the hologram and then ask Joey to talk to it.
Tell him to use his natural charm on her. When the door opens, enter and talk to Doctor Burke and ask for a Scibby Thingy. In the end, you have to give up by saying he will have to remove one of your testes. After a brief explanation and quick operation, talk to Doctor Burke. Next, go and see Anchor and ask for one of his special policies. Tell him Lamb sent you and he will tell you Lamb is "bollocks". Talk to him one more time and tell him Doctor Burke sent you. He'll nip into a back room, so take the opportunity to tell Joey to use his welder on the anchor. Pick it up and go to the lift.
Cable, Security Building, Interface
Once up, examine the loose cable in the corner. Tell Joey to weld it and then nip down and pick it up. Go up and left to the outside of the power plant. Slip through the other door this time and down, back through the fire escape. Use the cable on the anchor and use the anchor with the sign on the next building. Once inside the security building, use your id card on the slot near the interface. Use the interface.
Cyberspace, Special Operations
Pick up the ball and go right. Open the bag and pick up all the objects that come out. Decompress the compressed data and then go right. Use the passwords on the circles on the floor. Pick up and put down the circles until you reach the exit on the far right. Pick up the book and bust and decrypt all three of the documents. Disconnect yourself from the interface and then use your card with the Line terminal and choose Security Services. Choose Special Operations and option number two. Return to the Security Services menu and choose View Documents. Examine all three and then exit from the terminal. Use your card on the lift door and go through. You now have access to all lifts and rooms.
Dog, Mrs Piermont Gardener
Go back into the lift and go down, left and down the next lift. Joey will kill himself at this point, so grab the circuit board out of the junk and talk to the lady with the dog as she strolls past. Talk to the security guard guarding the cathedral and go left. Talk to the doorman and ask him about joining the club. Talk to Mrs Piermont and ask her to sponsor you. Go right twice until you reach a tall building with a large lift door. Talk to the gardener and then to the boy. Chat to the gardener about the plants and then push the button near the lift door. Tell Mrs Piermont who you are (Robert) and then go inside. Use the video cassette with the vcr and, when the dog leaves the dog food, grab the dog biscuits. Go outside and wait for Mrs Piermont to come out again (you may have to go back inside a second time).
Dog Biscuits, Antia's Death, Club
Go into the lift and use the dog biscuits on the plank. Wait until the dog comes along and then pull the rope. When the dog moves onto the plank, let go of the rope and the dog will be catapulted into the water. Mrs Piermont will ask the guard over to help. Excellent. Go into the cathedral and go through the left door. Open all the lockers and find Antia's body. Go back and examine the dummies to realise they are androids. Go outside and go over to the club. You should have no problem getting in this time. Talk to everyone and go over to the metal plate on the wall near the band. Your fingerprints are wrong so exit and make your way back to the factory and Lamb. Talk to him about Antia's death. Return to the last place you saw her alive and open the middle locker. Pick up the radiation suit and wear it. Enter the Danger room, use the console and open the reactor door. Go inside and pick up Antia's id card.
Bunding Eyes, Gardener, Subway Stations
Antia's card has been made D-Linc, so you can't use it on the lifts. Return to the security building and use her card in the interface slot. Blind the eye in the room and quickly go right. Blind the next eye and swiftly go through the exit. Run through the nearest exit (the one the crusader is not guarding) and grab the tuning fork before the eye wakes up. Go back and use the playback option with the well. Antia's holographic form will appear and tell you about the subways under the city and about an agent from Hobart. Go back outside the factory and talk to the gardener. Ask him his name - it is Eduardo; Antia's contact. He will tell you about a virus which you need to find. Exit bottom left and examine the doors to the shed. Use your id card with the lock, then go inside and pick up the secateurs. Look at the machine and the map to find out about the subway stations.
Hobbin's Trial, Club, Underground
Leave and go to the court. The door will be open and will lead to Hobbin's court trial. You are the defendant (it doesn't matter what you say, he will always get the same sentence). Afterwards, go back to the club. The band have gone so you can now use the jukebox. Select the first song and wait for Colston to get up and turn it off. While he's gone, pick up his glass, and go to Doctor Burke's Bio Surgery. Give the glass to the Doctor and ask him to make your thumbprints the same as Colston's. Just go over to the machine and put your hands in. Go back to the club and push the metal plate again. Inside is a small, dirty room. Climb on the box to reach the vent and it will break. Use the crowbar and then the secateurs on the vent. Crawl through and you should end up underground. STOP! Don't go near the hole or you will meet a sticky end.
Near the hole is a light socket. Use the lightbulb in the socket and then go right. Luckily, the creature in the hole is afraid of the light. Go through the door and use the crowbar on the crumbling wall. Pick up the brick and use the crowbar with ceiling in the vein. Use the brick with the crowbar and pick, then take the crowbar. The vein .. will start bleeding so wait until a medical droid comes through the door to fix it. Take this opportunity to nip through this door. Use the console within to reduce the heat. Quickly, as the pit cover closes, pull the metal bar attached to the vent. Exit and look through the grill. You can just see an android attending to some machinery. Go right and through the door. Pop Joey's circuit board inside the medical droid and then talk to it. Ask it about the android and learn that it is dangerous to enter due to the probability of having your head crushed in. Tell the droid to go and turn the tap to a tank full of bubbling liquid which is attached to the machinery. When you hear the tap dripping, go through the door. The android will see you and then the leak. He will walk towards it and fall down the loose grating.
Restricted Area, Gallagher, Androids
Examine the machinery and go to the exit at the top right of the screen. Examine the equipment there and then leave through the door on the right. Use your id card in the Line terminal and choose "access to restricted area". Exit the terminal and leave the room. Gallagher will be there. He is an android. Oh dear - Joey will try to stop him killing you and get his face smashed in. Joey will shoot him but die in the process. Search the android's body and take the id card. Go through the newly opened big doors and look at all the equipment. Pick up the tongs and put your hand in the tank. Use the tongs in the tank to grab the tissues. Go right and open the cabinet next to the middle android. Place Joey's circuit board inside and use the console. Download all the character data and start the android up. It will tell you not to activate all the other androids as they are programmed to terminate you.
Ken, Crusader, Virus
Name the android Ken and tell him to push both hand panels on either side of the door. Ken will get stuck, but you can't help him. Go through the door and jump down onto the pipes. Go right and use the cable on the pipe support. Go back to the room with the Line terminal and use Gallagher's id on the slot. Access and then head right. Blind eye and quickly exit. Use the Divine Wrath icon on the crusader and slip through his exit. Exit the interface and swap with Antia's card. Go back to the crusader location and use the oscillator on the crystal. Pick up the virus and exit the interface. Exit the room and enter the large door. Use Antia's card on the console to contaminate and crash the program with the virus.
Tongs, Father, Overmann
Use the tongs on the tank. Grab the tissue and freeze it in the huge tank at the front of the room. Go right, right, right, right and climb down the rungs. Drop the tissue into the mouth-like orifice and a door will appear on the left-hand wall. Use the cable to swing over to the door. Once inside, you'll find your father sitting in a chair. Talk to him and wait until Ken appears. Tell him to sit in the chair and Line will take over. Overmann will explain everything. Talk to him until he dies. Watch the end sequence. Fini.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode