Park Beyond Review
Promising an unconventional approach to rollercoaster construction as players design the theme park of their dreams, Limbic Entertainment’s Park Beyond is yet another business-building simulator that attempts to blend "unlimited" creativity with fiscal responsibility. A familiar pitch with some quirky set dressing, you’ll create your own custom coasters, plop down drag-and-drop shops, and hire staff to create a successful venture that’s profitable and exciting – but most importantly, profitable.
Despite a feature-length tutorial in custom coaster construction, Park Beyond’s campaign starts strong by consistently letting you tinker with exciting new mechanics, empowering you to unleash your wildest creations in dusty deserts and lush alpine forests. But as I started to balance my building around the proposed financial and spacial limits, I felt my creativity was quickly kneecapped by frustrating forced goals.
Simulations are always a balancing act between resources and imagination. However, the finickiness and overcomplication of some of Park Beyond’s tasks made for play sessions where, more often than not, I was sitting at my desk fast-forwarding through in-game months to trudge through dull, unskippable busywork. Surprisingly, making my toilets profitable was not on my "Build Your Dream Theme Park" bingo card.
Not all building systems are made equal in Park Beyond, with different types of customization arriving with different rules. Where the prefab buildings and custom coaster builds use a modular placement system and require specific amounts of space, miscellaneous decorative items like trees and rocks can be placed freeform onto your structures. This made manipulating the space an approachable process and encouraged me to create organic and appealing environments. One nice addition was the ability to completely customize shops by building extensions around a base structure which, with significant effort, can result in a truly bespoke creation. However, this method does come with some caveats, as it can get a little finicky and time-consuming when you get into the weeds of roofing and signage.
Your park’s success depends on three main requirements: Money, Fun, and Amazement. Each ride, shop, toilet, and staff member contributes in differing amounts, meaning you’ll be spinning plates to keep the lights on. Amazement is the most compelling currency, as it allows you to "Impossify" your rides, shops, and staff, adding visual flair and increasing their efficiency. This lets you meaningfully develop and personalize your setup, but the slow burn of filling up the meter eventually became a chore.
Despite its pacing stumbles, Park Beyond succeeds with its delightful animations and dramatic ride designs that made my stomach twist and turn. There’s a wonderful twinkling ambiance in the evenings too, and this let me clock out of my fiscal fears occasionally so I could enjoy the zany world I’d built in peace. Though, that all comes crashing down as the sun rises the next morning, and you notice your margins aren't good enough to fund your latest silly endeavor.
Sandbox Mode ended up becoming a refreshing alternative, where I could focus on my own design dreams without the ceaseless interventions. Here you can decide on a starting budget and location and set specific goals curating your own set of challenges. While you still have to manage your dreams, I finally felt like I was my own boss. I could build and experiment with greater depth while accepting financial defeat – which feels like a better distillation of the game’s ambitions.
Even with its twisted takes on nostalgic ride designs and copious whimsical fanfare, I was left feeling deflated by Park Beyond's business-oriented objectives and lack of investment in unbridled player creativity. For a game that endeavors to push the limits of your imagination, it's a little too concerned with whether you’re tall enough to ride.