Beyond Contact, tried the new science fiction survival

Beyond Contact, tried the new science fiction survival

Beyond Contact

Although they have now invaded the videogame landscape beyond the saturation threshold, strangely there is always a bit of space and desire for sandbox-style survival, as evidenced by the curiosity that has instilled in us the tried of Beyond Contact, the protagonist of this article. The mechanics of these games have something irresistible, obviously inherent with the way of thinking of gamers, or at least a good part of them. Survival, given by exploration, searching for resources and building tools to combat the threats of a hostile environment, is basically a rather direct translation of life in its original sense, but now totally far from the way we normally conceive it. Perhaps this is precisely what attracts survival games: their conformation to ancestral mental schemes, each time falling into different contexts, in which danger is often led to paroxysm to make the experience more stimulating.

Beyond Contact it works on these basic principles, staging an interesting variation of the typical plot: also in this case we are dealing with a shipwreck, but here it is a spaceship that crashed on a strongly hostile alien planet.

This allows you to range between totally fantastic and unknown environments, prompting the exploration and discovery of new things at practically every step, at least for a good part of the first hours of the game. With the ship out of order and the need to cope with environmental dangers and primary survival needs, the game immediately proves challenging, without allowing much time to adapt to its dynamics and perhaps addressing more to the experts of this genre, who will find themselves there. at ease. This, however, considering that it is a game still in early access, which could therefore be substantially enriched and also offer a softer approach to its dynamics.

A space mission gone badly

Beyond Contact, one of the settings of the alien planet Ketern The story is told above all with 2D animated intermission scenes, characterized by a comic style that only partially recalls the graphics of the title, creating a particular gap between the narrative and game parts . In any case, we are still in the early access phase and this component will probably be expanded and enriched only later: for the moment there is already a good base from which to start, at least compared to many other survival, since the characters are quite characterized and immersed in a well-defined world from a narrative point of view. The protagonist is the scientist Quinn Hicks, a researcher specializing in alien biology who is sent, together with other colleagues, to the planet Ketern, where some anomaly has been recorded. Upon arrival of the ship near orbit, it is clear that the threat has been decidedly underestimated, given that the planet is practically collapsing and its disproportionate gravitational field crashes the entire group on its surface.

La premise is therefore the typical shipwreck in an unknown area, but in this case the setting is the most alien there can be, being an unknown planet. For this reason, at every step it is possible to make incredible discoveries, making the scanning of every single element of the scenario a constant and indispensable action to be able to orient oneself and understand what to do. Ketern is generated in a procedural way at the start of each game, with the possibility of modifying some parameters or leaving everything completely left to chance, but in any case it is a setting as fascinating as it is hostile, filled with threats and impending dangers. . The story provides the start to the action by asking to find the ship and possibly the mission mates, but soon the demands of survival take over, pushing the game along the classic tracks of the genre.

Exploration, collection, adaptation

Beyond Contact presents a rather complex interface even outside the menus Beyond Contact can be faced in single or multiplayer, with the first option referring mainly to the Campaign while the second linked to the survival mode classic, but in any case the fundamental structure of the game does not change substantially. The gameplay is always based on the need to explore, gather resources, build tools through crafting and thus resist the threats of the hostile world in which we have come to find ourselves, all at a rather fast pace, at least as regards the first phases of game. We are quite close to the style of Subnautica, whose alien atmospheres are easily found on Ketern, but No Man's Sky also comes to mind for the constant need to scan alien flora and fauna and the progression in the collection of resources and crafting.

Essential for survival on the planet turns out to be CARL, a sort of virtual android that supports Quinn during her wanderings on the surface of Ketern, performing scans and searches in real time that constantly increase knowledge of the surrounding environment and allow you to unlock new crafting projects. Between top view and control system, Beyond Contact definitely has something of Don't Starve, but somehow Diablo also comes to mind, especially for the management of the camera and the control system, although obviously the game structure does not is so focused on battles. Indeed, to tell the truth, the combat system at the moment is still not very engaging, so much so as to somewhat discourage direct confrontations, pushing exploration and simply avoiding threats, as long as possible.

Between constant danger and wonder

The construction of the structures opens a separate phase of the game In general, the level of challenge remains high, regardless of the fighting: Quinn's vital signs require to find food, oxygen and control the outside temperature rather frequently, with the unlocking of tools to facilitate survival which usually takes a long time. Combining this with a certain scarcity of raw materials, we understand how Beyond Contact is not exactly a challenge for survival novices, except for any balances that may come later. The micro-management of parameters remains fundamental for a good part of the time, until you start building the structures, at which time the focus of the action widens further with the expansion of crafting towards new horizons. Bases and structures have a separate management system that introduces further features into the game, with production and management elements that come directly from "factory simulations" and agricultural, with the need to set up mass production systems capable of guaranteeing a considerable need.

What stands out most in the Beyond Contact experience is certainly Ketern, the alien world into which we fall, at the same time a source of wonder and terror. The construction is procedural, therefore we cannot speak of reasoned level design, but the general appearance always remains consistent with the particular classic sci-fi cartoon style that makes the whole game very fascinating.

Exploring Ketern we can come across strange ruins, as in this image Beyond the cutscenes, which take up the concept art with a sort of real animated graphic novel, it is precisely the general design of flora and fauna to characterize the whole, immersing ourselves in a science fiction vision of the past which, however, also has modern and original characteristics, such as those concerning structures and technology in general.

Survival are now many, but Beyond Contact could have what it takes to be able to emerge even in an environment so crowded with competitors. Its structure does not offer great innovations on the standard formula, but the particular alien setting manages to characterize the gaming experience in an incisive way, making it a title able to stand out from the crowd. It is also a challenge not to be underestimated, set on a level of difficulty that is always rather selective and therefore indicated perhaps above all to experts of the genre, but even this can work in its favor by increasing its charm. It remains to be seen how it will evolve from here on, whether it will be able to guarantee a greater variety of situations, some consistent story advancement or a slightly less frustrating balance for the average player.


The alien setting of Ketern is very fascinating Survival challenging, to which management and construction elements are added Between single and multiplayer, campaign and survival there is no lack of DOUBT modes There is a need for a greater balance of the challenge level Game loop often times out on grinding Have you noticed any errors?

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