Despite most gamers knowing what you mean when you talk about “point and click” games, many would struggle to name one other than Monkey Island or Manic Mansion.
To be fair, the genre isn’t exactly busting with new releases, nor has it translated well to the current gaming climate. Although indie games such as ROM, browser-based games by Adult Swim and new entries to the Broken Sword series are floating around, the genre has primarily been discarded. It has been replaced, more or less, by Telltale’s narrative-driven adventure titles.
Lesser-known titles in the genre have been forgotten. Revolution’s Beneath A Steel Sky from 1994, despite being free on GoG and seeing an iOS remaster in 2009, hasn’t manage to garner anything beyond a small cult following. It’s a pity, because the crass, cyberpunk adventure also happens to be one of the more accessible adventure game out there.
The game sees Robert “Foster” taken from the Australian outback and plonked right in the middle of a dystopian Sydney, where more than a few things are amiss. It was somewhere between turning my snarky robot into a vacuum cleaner and seeing a police officer get eviscerated that I realised this game wasn’t going to be as kid-friendly as its contemporaries.
The dissonance between the game’s genre and its level of snark is what makes it so interesting. All in all, the game isn’t likely to occupy more than a slow arvo or two, but is well worth the experience for those looking for a light-weight, gritty sci-fi tale with a healthy measure of humour.
BaSS avoids many of the trappings of the point-and-click genre. The majority of the game’s puzzles are logical, which allows them to remain challenging without becoming frustrating. While there is the occasional trial-and-error solution, most of the puzzles can be figured out by thinking about them a little.
As legend goes, the game was supposed to feature a wider range of characters to better show off the “Virtual Theatre” mechanics that Revolution touted before release. Budget cuts meant the game didn’t get to live up to its potential, but given the overall pacing, this probably works in the game’s favour. A host of non-critical characters would have likely made the game feel even slower to a modern audience.
BaSS is a game that holds up surprisingly well. Aside from a couple of jokes about a VCR, most of the humour still manages to land. The 2009 remaster will give players a much smoother experience, but the original is free on GoG. If you’re looking for a cyberpunk story with a bit of a twist or are curious about what adventures game were like back in the DOS-days, it’s worth a look-in.