Playing out the fantasy of owning and operating your own theme park can be a lot of fun, but why limit yourself to merely what’s possible when you can create masterpieces of excitement that could never exist in real life due to technical limitations, the laws of physics, and an inevitable mountain of lawsuits? That’s the central question behind Park Beyond, a theme park simulator that blends true-to-life park management simulation with over-the-top and wonderfully absurd rides and roller coasters that quite literally go off the rails. While I enjoyed the highly detailed and painstakingly realistic park management features, it was in the mishmashing of that realism with purposefully untethered possibilities within my park’s attractions that drew me in and kept me laughing for the duration of my time with it. That’s a deadly combination that hit all the right notes with me and helped me embrace my inner park-trepreneur.
In a lot of ways, Park Beyond is exactly what you’d expect from a theme park simulator. Chiefly, you’ll be concerned with developing a playground for your customers to enjoy themselves while turning a profit to build new, exciting attractions. All of that is very detailed and has an addictive loop(-de-loop) to it. In one instance, I took out a loan to help pay for a very ambitious roller coaster, then got to watch my drained coffers creep dangerously close to bankruptcy as I nervously hoped my enormous gamble would pay off. That stuff is the bread and butter of any simulation game, but as the name implies, Park Beyond is all about mixing it up with things you’d never be able to get away with in real life.
Park Beyond Screens
That’s where “impossification” comes into play, a feature that lets you store the joy you create in your customers as a resource that can be spent on making your park attractions perform feats that could never exist in an actual theme park. For example, I turned a milquetoast octopus ride into an insane and hilarious kaiju attack that threw park-goers into the air with reckless abandon. My swinging pirate ship ride, on the other hand, broke apart like the Titanic mid-ride and began swinging the shattered parts in different directions before reassembling itself again at the end. I only got to play the first set of missions and thus have only seen a fraction of what’s possible with impossification, but watching these unhinged creations come to life already has given me a lot more motivation to cultivate my park than most other simulators have been able to do.
I was also able to build roller coasters from scratch, complete with their own impossification options like ramps that let me untether the coaster from its rails, cannons that let me fire my customers into the air, tunnels that could burrow deep underground and through mountains, and more. Of course, I couldn’t just blow off the laws of physics entirely. For example, I was still expected to use chain lift tracks to drag coasters upwards before sending them careening downwards, and if I launched a rollercoaster off of a ramp, I was expected to catch them on the other side of the jump. I also had to be conscious about how much speed my roller coaster was picking up, lest I send my paying customers flying off the side of a cliff. I mean, just because Park Beyond deals in the impossible doesn’t mean I get to be downright unreasonable…right?
Even better, once I was done building my rides, I could put myself in the customer’s seat and ride my creation through to completion. Doing so became my ultimate reward for completing an interesting roller coaster, or upgrading and impossifying another ride into something unique and over-the-top.
Rides aren’t the only things that could be impossified, either. I also played around with impossifying my staff, like when I did so to one of the janitors I hired and he began carrying around a flamethrower to purge the park’s trash cans with a cleansing fire. Eco-friendly? No. But an impressive spectacle nonetheless.
So far, Park Beyond has captured my interest by pairing realistic park management with larger than life rides. I look forward to devising more fantastical creations when it’s released next year.