Impossification is a wonderfully bizarre, totally made-up word, but it absolutely captures the spirit of what developer Limbic Entertainment is trying to do with its new theme park sim Park Beyond. It's a new challenger to the genre, and while I don't think it's going to break the mold, I do love the childlike imagination at its heart.
This word, Impossification, is a word the team made up for its core thread through Park Beyond, which also ties into the name itself. Through a story-driven campaign, Limbic wants you to create a theme park that is beyond imagination, beyond the "traditional" rides that we no doubt are all familiar with, and beyond the normal limitations of gravity. It's not totally fantastical though, as the team has been careful to ground all its creations mostly in reality, but it does well to embody the kind of childhood wonder that a lot of us will have experienced visiting such places as Disneyland or other theme parks in our youth.
"If you go with kids to a theme park or to a circus, the actually cool stuff happens in their head," laughs CEO Stephan Winter. "Even things that are cheesy in real life, like all plastic and everything, for them the fantasy is still there."
By embracing this Impossification theme, Limbic is trying to harness that idea and bring it to life in Park Beyond – it manifests itself in every area of this theme park sim. Take the Ferris Wheel, for example, it's still a Ferris Wheel at its core but now the ride is a mesh of wheels that move together like the inside of a clock, the gondolas weaving through them on what should be a rather spectacular viewing experience for the guests. I'm also shown a Carousel, which unfurls into a multi-layered spectacle like some kind of animated wedding cake.
These are the types of additions that you'll be able to research and add to your park to infuse it with an air of Impossification. As important as this concept is to the heart of Park Beyond, both Winter and creative director Reithmann laugh about it, as neither entirely knows how the word Impossification actually came to be.
The park can't achieve Impossification without you striving for it. The roughly 30-hour campaign sees you brought in as the visionary that's going to transform an aging, old-fashioned theme park into something new, exciting, and more importantly, profitable. Izzy is the CFO and will be monitoring the financial implications of your decisions, while Phil is the original founder who finds himself unable to innovate. Together, along with other characters who'll join the theme park board along the way, you'll work out exactly what you want this part to look like, and who it's for. You'll be able to make decisions throughout the campaign that will completely change how the missions are structured, and what your goals will be. Rather than being told what to do, you're solving the bigger problems with your own solutions.
"You define your own objectives, your sub-objectives. You define your starting conditions, with money or research, or whatever you start with. And you also define your restrictions," explains Reithmann. "The main argument for us was really that the player feels like they're in charge of their own creativity and their own creative vision."
That will be reflected in two core currencies as you work to manage your park - money and amazement. Money is self-explanatory, you'll use it to buy things and pay your staff salaries, but amazement is something a little more unique. "Amazement is something that you get from your visitors and it's not hard cash or something that you can count," says Winter. "It's something that accumulates when they are surprised by the cool stuff. And with this amazement, you will unlock research and decide in which direction to innovate next."
One area you'll want to innovate is with the rollercoasters, which, unlike the rides where the Impossification upgrades are pre-written, you are in full control of how they work. It is a modular system that you'll be able to tweak and adjust until you've built your perfect coaster. Plus, you can get your coaster track going through shops and other rides too, as well as interacting with the landscape, which is a personal favorite feature of mine – especially as there's a cinematic first-person ride-along view to take advantage of.
The coaster carts are Impossified too, turning into what the game calls Omnicarts – aka carts with wings, capable of being shot from cannons to soar through the air to join the next piece of track. But, despite the fantasy of it all, the rules of physics and momentum still apply; you'll have to tweak your track to make sure you've got enough speed to make that jump, or round the next bend. It looks really easy to drag and move around each of the modules to place them or make adjustments, which is especially handy as the game is launching on PS5 and Xbox Series X alongside PC next year.
"With Park Beyond, in the beginning, we made some internal deals with all the devs involved where we basically said, number one, any and all features must showcase using both control options," says Winter on the way the game has been developed for PC and console from the very start. "The most painful part I think came with the roller coaster creation."
"We did a lot of prototyping and in the end we found a way which I think feels like playing with a toy," explains Reithmann. "We actually looked at all the toys outside of the theme park gaming space and looked at how they did it. How did they manage to make it actually fun just to build it. Not only is the final product fun, like riding the ride, but actually also the building part."
Aside from the word Impossification, I think maybe the main takeaway from seeing this early preview of Park Beyond is that it just looks really fun. There are cute themes that you can use to decorate your park, with unique rides attached to those elements, and the characters seem like something straight out of a heart-warming kids' story. Combine that with the brilliant silliness of the Impossification of classic rides and Limbic Games might just be onto a winner.