Beyond Contact is a new open world survival crafting game developed by Playcorp. The game follows an astronaut scientist marooned on a planet after being sent there for a rescue mission to extract the inhabitants. The game has a beautiful setting with various biomes that bring their own unique set of challenges and resources. Creature designs are interesting and somewhat varied. Meanwhile, the landscapes range from beautiful to barren, providing a strong depth of what is to come should players choose to trek deeper in. The game’s graphics and attention to detail help create an immersive world where players want to explore as far as they can to see what new alien life or technology they might stumble upon first. All topped with a solid soundtrack of electronica music to drive home the sci-fi setting.
However, the gameplay experience leaves much to be desired. Navigating the UI with a controller is clunky at best and sometimes doesn’t even work when certain menus are pulled up. Using a mouse does alleviate many of these issues, but has its own problems such as making picking up items somewhat cumbersome. What using a mouse doesn’t fix is the poor and awkward combat. While it’s worse with a controller, much of it boils down to moving yourself away from obviously highlighted and telegraphed attacks. Then punishing the opening to get a hit in before repeating the process.
Another issue solo players will run into is the constant balancing act of surviving while also advancing in their research to complete the game. From gathering or hunting food so they don’t starve while also searching maintaining their oxygen. There isn’t a lot of downtime for these players. It also doesn’t help that night is dangerous with the risk of freezing, requiring certain tools or armor to survive the conditions. There’s plenty of threats to keep players on their toes, but it becomes a hassle when wanting to progress as the game does want.
Beyond Contact is a beautiful game that’s hampered by its gameplay loop, controls, and balance. It has a nice aesthetic with an interesting world to explore over its contemporaries which are more content with the same gloomy and dull locales. Yet it’s very much style over substance with a poor UI that doesn’t control well regardless of the control scheme one chooses. Solo players will also find it much more of a slog, but teaming up with friends can make the experience more bearable. If you can tolerate the controls, then Beyond Contact does have a fair amount of content with more promised on the way to give players plenty of hours to sink their teeth into. However, those issues are deep and hard to ignore and console players should definitely avoid this game.