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Beyond a Steel Sky review – the makings of a modern classic

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July 25, 2020 at 01:00PM

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(Revolution Software; PC, iOS)
Glitches aside, this sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky, with art direction by Watchmen’s Dave Gibbons, is another absorbing journey into Union City

In Beyond a Steel Sky, the citizens of the utopian Union City win and lose points according to their civic behaviour, building an aggregate that measures their social standing. This “Qdos” system, as it’s called, might once have seemed like the product of an authoritarian fever dream. Today, however, it mirrors the reality of China’s controversial social credit system, whereby all aspects of its citizens’ behaviour are monitored and incentivised, with high scorers enjoying reduced waiting times at hospitals, hotel discounts and broader employment opportunities, while low scorers are publicly shamed.

And yet this sequel to 1994’s Beneath a Steel Sky, a collaboration between Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons and the York-based design team Revolution Software, still classifies as science fiction in the orthodox sense of presenting the social divides of a futuristic world, not merely its neon-lit and mohawked aesthetic, as is the case with so much current sci-fi.

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