In the realm of theme park simulation games, Bandai Namco’s latest offering, Park Beyond, has been generating quite a buzz in the gaming community. As a spiritual successor to beloved classics like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster, Park Beyond aims to take players on a thrilling journey of creativity, strategy, and management. In this review, we will delve into the immersive world of Park Beyond, exploring its innovative gameplay mechanics and all of its other quirks. So, buckle up and join us as we embark on a rollercoaster ride through the fantastical world of theme park design and management, where imagination knows no bounds, and the sky is truly the limit.
We were actually able to preview the game at the beginning of May, getting just a small taste of the freedom of creativity being offered. But now we’ve had even more time to dive further into every aspect of the game, including the good, the bad, and the impossifiable.
There are two modes to play in Park Beyond, the first being the story mode. In it, you are trying to help the Cloudstormers entertainment business develop a line of theme parks that will blow all of the competition away and establish Cloudstormers as the undisputed leaders in the theme park industry. We won’t dive too much into the story’s progression, but you can find videos of the first three missions in the preview linked above. There are 8 missions in total, each one challenging your theme park expertise in various ways. Each mission has you completing a series of objectives that help guide your hand at creating thriving and exciting theme parks.
After you’ve mastered the campaign, you can put your skills to the test in Sandbox Mode, which has you starting with a blank canvas… err, patch of land… to create and manage your own park. There won’t be any pitch meetings to guide you here, you’ll have to make those decisions for yourself. So, figure out what kind of park you want to build and get to it!
Starting in the Engagement Park, you can get a rundown of all of the basics again on a premade map. This is really just a simple ‘reminders’ park that brings things back to the front of the mind that may have been forgotten or overlooked when you were out impossifying all those rides. You’ll follow the objective flags around the map to hammer down the basics in specially themed parts of the park that also serve as inspiration to create your own. Once you’ve got it all hammered down, you can pick one of the available locales to build your own park from the ground up.
However, creating zany and exciting theme parks isn’t the only objective here. The foundation of your park’s success is built upon the Fun, Profitability, and Amazement ratings, which all together determine your Park Appeal. For any park you’re building, whether it’s in the campaign or in sandbox mode, I’d recommend starting with your park’s Fun and Profitability as these will be the drivers behind getting more people to visit your park, as well as making sure you can fund your park’s Amazement. Every flat ride and coaster you build will have an indicator of how Fun, Profitable, and Amazing it is expected to be, although there will be other factors determining whether or not they are any of those things.
To make your park Fun, you want to find flat rides and coasters that show a party popper (🎉) symbol. The more of this symbol you see, the more likely it is to be considered a Fun ride. Your park’s Fun rating coupled with its Cleanliness rating will help the park to level up, allowing you to unlock more rides, shops, modules, and coaster modifications in Lab Expansions. (Your park’s Cleanliness rating is maintained simply by keeping a clean park by hiring janitors and having trash bins available.) While your Cleanliness rating will cap out at 100%, your park’s Fun rating has no ceiling, you just have to have the Fun and Cleanliness prowess to get it done.
Fun parks tend to also be Profitable parks, but you can boost your park’s Profitability by making sure to place flat rides, coasters, and shops that encourage visitors to empty their wallets, indicated by ‘$’ signs. One of the first rides you unlock, the Swinging Pendulum, is one of the most profitable flat rides in the game, and is therefore a good starting point to start attracting visitors. Place one of those with a couple of shops for food and drink, as well as setting a park entry fee (I started mine at just $2), and you’ll be able to start building your park’s cash flow. Each ride you place can have the fee increased or decreased based on visitor feedback and the ride’s Utilization, as can the items in the shops, for which there will also be indicators on whether an item is a popular seller. Every ride and shop will also show how much the upkeep is so you can see whether or not it is profitable versus how much money is coming in.
Making sure your park is Fun and Profitable at the start is a surefire way to ensure your park will be around for years to come. Once you’ve established these two areas, you can start working on the Amazement rating of your park, giving your park that WOW factor.
Your park’s Amazement rating is built up the same way Fun and Profitability are, by placing flat rides and coasters that have a higher Amazement factor (🤩). Rides like these will get the adrenaline pumping and probably even leave some of your visitors a little nauseated. However, these rides also contribute to how fast your Impossification meter fills up, which brings about a whole new whirlwind of opportunities for your rides and shops.
Impossifying rides, shops, and even park staff members brings a whole new level of excitement to your park. Flat rides and coasters can be Impossified to enhance certain features, such as more wheels on a ferris wheel, tossing Swinging Pendulum rings in the air, or having a Yeti grab the seats and swing them around from atop a building. Impossifying rides also increases their Fun, Profitability, and Amazement ratings, in turn increasing your cash flow and overall Park Appeal. Some rides can even be impossified multiple times for maximum effect. When Impossifying staff members, they become equipped with new gear to make them more efficient at their jobs, such as the bincinerator that Janitor’s can use to dispose of trash. When you Impossify a shop, a special item is added to the menu and the shop is decorated with a shiny and sparkly attraction. Impossified items can be sold at higher prices and are most likely to be purchased when visitors are happiest.
How things are Impossified has changed slightly since we did the preview. It used to be that staff members could be Impossified once the meter was half filled up and then rides could be Impossified when the meter was full. Now the meter has to be filled up so many times for each thing you want to Impossify. For staff members, the meter needs to be filled up once for every staff member you want to impossify. The meter must be filled twice for any shop Impossifications, and then it must be filled 5 times for any flat ride or coaster Impossifications.
This still works out fairly well, even if your park doesn’t have a particularly high Amazement rating. All rides generate at least a little bit of each rating, so the Impossification meter will still fill up if you have rides focused on Fun and Profitability, it just takes a little longer. But even that doesn’t really matter as that just means you have more time to bring in the cash to be able to support the increased upkeep. You can also speed up the passage of time so you don’t have to wait as long between Impossifications, however make sure you’re still keeping your eyes on Profitability if you do this, because it can easily slip away if you’re not taking the time to monitor your cash flow.
You also have to take into account the demographic preferences of each ride and shop. There are three groups of visitors who will be visiting your park: Adults, Families, and Teens. Each demographic will have preferences to certain types of rides, like how Teens are almost all about Amazement while Families want things that are more Fun. Making sure there is a little bit of something for everyone will ensure that your park is bringing in as much traffic as possible, increasing your cash flow even more.
Like I said, this is still a business, and every decision you make is going to affect how well your business performs, including Impossifications. You still have to maintain your rides by hiring Mechanics, take care of the well-being of your visitors with Medical Staff, and keep the park clean by hiring Janitors, but your staff can also get easily burnt out, especially if you have a large park. When they’re low on energy, their efficiency decreases, making it take longer for them to do their job, which negatively affects your Park Appeal. Setting up a couple Staff Lounges is essential to give your crew a place to rest and recharge between tasks. Otherwise, you may come back to find all of your rides are on fire, trash is all over the place, and half your visitors have become very ill.
In the preview, I had mentioned that I’m not usually big on simulators, but Park Beyond has given me reason to give them another try. I love how quirky everything is, from the crazy rides to the shops to the Impossifications, and even the park decorations, though I didn’t do much with them myself. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the most creative person (I used pre-built coasters instead of trying to create my own), so I was content to just throw in a few street lights and trees and call it good. The challenge of building up a theme park, probably the most interesting simulator out there (sorry Jurassic World Evolution fans), and trying to make it as wacky and fun and profitable as possible has proven to be the most fun I’ve ever had in a simulation game.
It’s not to say I’m perfect at it, I’m actually far from it, having caused more than one park to go bankrupt before striking gold the third or fourth time around. However, I did manage to build up a sandbox park from scratch that ended up running for literal in-game years without ever going negative. For me, that’s impressive considering I also had that same park go over $20k negative the attempt before that. Park Beyond has been the most inviting and the most captivating simulation game I’ve played, I feel like it’ll be the perfect entry point for many looking to dip their toes into the genre.
However, the game is far from perfect and could definitely use a little pesticide. While it seems they’ve addressed the bugs and crash issues that were experienced during the preview, this build is far from free of if issues. Most of the issues I encountered were in the story, where I would be trying to complete one of the marked objectives around the map only to have it not recognize that I had done what was asked, such as placing a shop or ride in a specific location. I had many issues with my coasters in the campaign, from the exits and entrances constantly ‘breaking’ (they’d just stop working entirely) to having the rails clip straight through solid rock instead of tunneling through to them just not operating at all for no reason whatsoever.
I’ve also still had a few crashes, though thankfully they aren’t game-breaking anymore like the ones I experienced in the preview, but some progress is reset and I have to rebuild something or readjust prices all over again, which can become tedious. Like Ron Burke, Editor in Chief, once said to me when discussing the game, it “occasionally feels like an old wooden coaster: you have an absolute blast but the bugs will leave you with bumps and bruises,” which perfectly sums it up.
I also wanted to comment on some of the game’s accessibility settings as I think there’s some promise there. While these settings aren’t particularly deep, it’s still very much appreciated when any developer takes the time to at least attempt to improve the experience for those who have some struggles.
For myself, my eyesight has been steadily declining over the last few years, and, even with my glasses, I sometimes still struggle to read some things. I do appreciate the UI Scaling, which allows you to increase the size of parts of the UI to improve readability, however if I could’ve also made all the backgrounds of UI elements fully opaque, it would’ve been even better. The font they use is harder to see on translucent backgrounds. You can make the dialog backgrounds opaque, just not the UI. Unfortunately there is no button mapping for controller users, or PC for that matter, which bothered me at first until I got more accustomed to the controls. What I do like, however, is that you can choose to have your cursor stay glued to the exact center of the screen at all times or you can have a Dynamic Cursor, meaning it will follow the ‘camera’ inertia, essentially floating in the middle of the screen as you move around before settling in the middle again. The Dynamic Cursor made it much easier, in my opinion, to move around and select things.
There is an Annual Pass for Park Beyond, however it doesn’t appear to be available separately, it only appeared when viewing bundles. The Annual Pass will contain 3 main DLCs, including new flat rides, decorations, prefabs, and more. It’s included in the Visioneer Edition, which is $79.99, and the base game itself is $49.99.
Cassie Peterson is an Editor for Gaming Trend but also a sporadic content creator and exceedingly average Rainbow Six Siege player. She goes by MzPanik on Twitter and Twitch and all of the gaming platforms.
Park Beyond is a theme park simulation game from Bandai Namco that offers players a thrilling journey of creativity, strategy, and park management. The Impossification takes your park to the next level, making this a truly Amazing and Fun theme park building experience. The game does have a few bugs to be addressed, however, there’s so much to love here for newcomers and players returning to the genre that they can be easily overlooked once you get hooked.