top of page
1280_720Reviewheader.png

Shellie - ShelliePancake

19 May 2023

Beyond Contact

Beyond Contact is a sci-fi space exploration and survival game Published by Deep Silver and Developed by Melbourne-based Playcorp Studios. Seeing this calibre of a game being created by fellow Aussies is brilliant. After recently touring a local university specialising in game development, seeing how the industry is growing here is fantastic. Beyond Contact drops you straight into an unforgiving and, at times, uninhabitable planet. You are tasked with surviving this cruel and foreign world whilst trying to find other survivors and unlock the secrets hidden within this environment.

It’s the year 2766. Quinn Hicks, a brilliant engineer recently promoted to Elite rank within the U.W.C’s Space Corps, and her team have been called to respond to a growing crisis at the edge of known space. The planet of Ketern is breaking apart, and an unknown energy source emanating from the planet’s interior is threatening the civilization that calls Ketern home. As your ship approaches the planet, it gets caught in the magnetic field emanating from Ketern, and you crash land on the surface. You pick yourself up, apply first aid and take stock of your surroundings. Unfortunately, you are now lost and alone on an unfamiliar planet, and you need to find any remaining survivors.

1280_720Reviewheader.png

The tutorial and story are helped and driven by your AI companion, C.A.R.L – which stands for Cerebral Augmented Reality Liaison. He walks you through how to scan items for data, such as flora, fauna or ship wreckage. As you traverse the planet, searching for clues for survivors, you can scan the remnants of what is left from fallen camps or broken ships to find your next location. You start the game with Quinn as your only playable option, but as you progress through the game, you can earn credits that allow you to unlock other characters and customisable suit colours. Currently, the game only has two unlockable characters – Kangah, a lizard-type warrior, and Zaine, a human mining and construction expert. I hope to see more options in the future, as I can see the dedicated players unlocking the two options pretty quickly and then having an abundance of credits stacking up. Credits can be earnt by levelling up or completing daily quests. There are two options for gameplay – Story or Conquest. Story is pretty self-explanatory. Uncover the story and save the world. Conquest mode has no ending and requires you to face up against the never-ending corruption and hordes. You can play solo or co-op, and, as I tried both formats, I personally found co-op to be the more enjoyable play style.

1280_720Reviewheader.png

My fellow teammate and I frequently found ourselves attempting to find each other, as tracking each other through the map was sometimes a little testing. One minute we could clearly see each other on the map, the next, it was like the player disappeared until you pulled the map up a couple of times. But using the coward’s tactic when facing a Corrupted Boss and his cronies was incredibly entertaining. While hammering away with my pick at the crystal to destroy the corruption, I watched DarkestShadowNZ zoom past me with a small crowd, nipping at his heels. Corruption areas were tougher to manage, as the enemies continued to spawn until the crystal was destroyed, and the different biomes had their own perilous enemies to handle. However, once we managed to work out the crafting system and wield some weaponry, the enemies stood no chance against our teamwork! The unbridled joy when I killed a corrupted, and he dropped a gun, and I was the one blasting the enemies instead of them blasting us turned the tides in our favour after we had stumbled into our first corruption zone.

The crafting in the game is pretty simple. Gather resources and ore to unlock the crafting tree schematics. You can craft items if you have the required items in your hands, with the exception of base building. At times it became slightly tedious as I frequently ran back to previous biomes to refresh my Tamber supplies. During Co-Op, a lot of this burden was halved as if one of us researched an item, it unlocked the schematic for the other player. This was a great help with progressing with better weaponry and armour between us.

1280_720Reviewheader.png

Initially, the controls took some getting used to. The camera feels clunky on the mouse and keyboard as the natural movement is to use the mouse to move the camera, and using the E and Q keys for camera rotation felt awkward. You can immediately tell the developers had controller gameplay in mind. We overcame this by never moving the camera; over time, it became something we didn’t notice anymore. Collecting the items that were dropped or scanning new items of interest required using the mouse, which was fast and easy to adapt to. The minimap shows coloured arrows to direct you to points of interest and are easy to follow. Bringing up the full-screen map feels futuristic with its vibrant, neon RGB colour scheme and hologram-style opacity. There is a slight learning curve when it comes to reading the map. Still, it didn’t take too long to get used to, and soon we were zooming around the different biomes and quickly trekking to the newest locations in the story.

Base building is simple, and as I started building my base, I quickly became inspired. A quick Google search shows some unique bases players have created. I can’t wait to delve into all the mechanics and options available for bases. My two recommendations to future players would be – build a base early on as inventory space is limited, and I found myself starting to eat unnecessarily to open up slots (and becoming hungry later on when I had no food left) or throwing items away to make room for other, more essential items for crafting. Even though we had crafted backpacks, they only opened up 4 more slots, which isn’t much. My second recommendation would be to build close to an obelisk, as they are fast-travel locations and provide fast and nippy travel to and from your bases across the map.

1280_720Reviewheader.png

The bright graphics have a sci-fi colour palette with vibrant pinks, deep blues and neon greens. The various flora are interesting, and each specifically relates to its own biome – lush green bushes in the open plains, rocks and minerals in the desert or harsh and spiky gaseous plants in the grey, gaseous zone. The comic-inspired artistry for the opening scenes are well drawn and draws you into the story. Remnants of civilisations scattered through the land are eye-catching and draw you closer to explore. The enemy designs are well done, and when you find a new species, a small cartoon drawing appears in the corner of the screen. They feel like a novel way to incorporate the artist’s original drawing board design of the enemies into the game.

The audio and voice acting are solid. The background music and ambient sounds reflect the environment, adding to the immersion of being on a strange planet. Small creatures chitter as they run away, and bushes rustle as you run through them. The alert sound as night approaches and your suit levels get low adds to the experience and is on point.

Beyond Contact is a wonderfully done isometric survival game with an engaging story and fun gameplay that fits nicely with the survival, base-building games on the market today. It feels like a combination of No Man’s Sky blended together with Don’t Starve and a sprinkling of Planet Crafter thrown in, and the combination is delicious.

8
10

The Bad

- Crafting and Base Building is easy to learn
- Exploration is fun, with a vast open world to explore
- An engaging story

- Multiplayer map reading and tracking can be janky
- Can feel grindy at times

The Good

bottom of page