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"Marvellous! I get kidnapped, nearly killed in a 'copter crash, hunted by professional thugs... and I'm stuck with a ROBOT in a SULK!"
Robert Foster, exchanging angry words with his belligerent robot Joey

Beneath a Steel Sky is a British Point-and-Click video game created by Revolution Software. The game was released for PC DOS and Amiga platforms in 1994. It came in two basic versions for both of those platforms: a text-heavy disk-based affair with minimal sound effects and a more lavish CD-ROM production with full music and speech, the latter of which was unusual considering the limitations of most computer systems of the era. The artwork and general style was partially created by Dave Gibbons, whose illustrations grace the PC CD-ROM version's introduction video, with the subtitles using comic-book style EMPHASIS on KEYWORDS.

The player assumes the role of Robert Foster, rescued by a tribe of bandits as a child after he was found as the only surviving member of a helicopter crash on which his mother was also a passenger. He is raised by the tribe and comes to look upon them as his family, learning skills such as hunting and scavenging and building himself a robot from discarded scraps found in local garbage dumps of the walled megalopolis of Union City. They inhabit a barren wasteland known as "The Gap", a deserted area that was once part of the Australian outback, a harsh place where daily survival is a struggle.

They are brutally set upon by a team of Security agents from Union City, looking for someone named Overmann. After kidnapping Foster, destroying his robot's shell, and setting off in a helicopter, the leader of the forces gives the order to bomb the village, wiping out both the tribe and the land on which they lived. Overcome with emotion, Foster is restrained by the guards as they make their way back to the city. During the automatic landing, the chopper spins out of control and crashes in Union City's industrial district, killing the pilot and all the passengers but two: Foster and an over-zealous Security agent named Reich. Climbing from the wreckage, he retreats to a nearby factory amidst a hail of laser fire. Reich proceeds to hunt him down, all the while referring to him as Overmann.

Union City, the "steel sky" of the title, is a classic dystopian cyberpunk setting full of selfish, morally flexible, and hilarious characters who don't much care for Rob, Joey, and their unusual ways. Staying undercover and stealing anything of use, Rob endeavours to resurrect his robot companion, find a way out of the city, and find the mysterious Overmann, who somehow seems connected to the supercomputer that forms the backbone of their society, known simply as LINC.

Beneath a Steel Sky was very well received upon release, with particular praise directed at the stylish graphics and darkly humourous off-kilter dialogue. Nevertheless, it failed to reach a larger audience and remains something of a forgotten gem, although Revolution Software commendably made it freeware to coincide with ScummVM porting the game using its custom engine, which means it can now be played on a variety of platforms. A "Remastered" edition was released for the iPhone in September 2009, which fixes some of the minor issues with the original game, features an intuitive new interface and an improved musical score.

Revolution have several times voiced their intention to make a sequel, and have announced that they're working on it. In March 25th 2019, the sequel, Beyond A Steel Sky, was revealed, adopting a cel-shaded 3D look. The game was released on 26 June 2020 on the Apple Arcade, with a Steam release planned for a later date.

This fine adventure game provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Reich's helicopter in the introductory sequence. A helicopter used by Foster appears at the ending as well.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: LINC took over the Council and became an evil dictator of Union City.
    • Also played for laughs with Joey. He's Rob's friend, but he has more than a few moments of Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Alien Geometries: Hobbins' workshop is positioned in a way it should be protruding from the outer wall. Even the room with the freight elevator should.
  • Amusing Injuries: When prying a loose brick from a wall, the brick hits Rob on his head. He turns to the camera making an embarassed gesture like it was a small annoyance.
  • Anal Probing: Literal example, where Joey has to use an extendable probe to jump-start a loader robot from behind. He even complains about how embarrassing it is, and calls Robert a voyeur.
  • Arc Words:
    • Rob often asks the question "Do you know a guy called Overmann?" and as the story unfolds he learns the power that name holds.
    • Joey's line "I take my orders from Overmann!" is an example of this, about a third into the game. Oddly enough, it turns out to be the truth.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: The game's engine allows for NPCs to wander around and continue their routine while the player is speaking, even. This allows some immersion so say, workers go in and out when you are inside a manufacturing plant. However, it makes people look quite silly, since you have NPCs wandering around as if they have nothing better to do than repeatedly walk around areas or even stand there like they're listening to you.
  • Author Filibuster: Given the weighty subject matter, they pretty much managed to avoid preaching a message about the evils of technology.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: The unbelievably unscrupulous Burke, who operates on patients for no reason whilst huffing gas, performs bizarre cosmetic surgery procedures in the name of fashion, and trades in people's organs. He also turned his dead wife into a holographic receptionist.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The opening gives the impression you're going to be dealing with a brutal totalitarian dystopia with a brutal State Sec as well as efficient bureaucracy. Instead, Union City turns out to have a stunningly incompetent bureaucracy, a few Dirty Cop types, and a citizenry best described as composed of complete morons.
  • Batman Gambit: The plans laid out to foil Rob in his goal to uncover the mysteries of the city. He played right into LINC's hands and didn't even realize it.
  • Badass Longcoat: Rob's stylish silver, gray, and black garment. Handy for concealing a crowbar, amongst other things.
  • Beeping Computers: Heard in the upper floor of the Security building, and in the underground LINC complex.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Union City is just odd when you pay attention to it - a strange inverse of Hive City from Warhammer 40k. The metropolis is a network of spires, but all the heavy industry is located on the higher levels, above the cloud-tops. Residential areas are beneath these factories, and the city's ultra-rich are below that as well, all on the ground level. Somehow ground level is the most aesthetically pleasing region with plentiful sunlight, greenery, and spotlessly clean. How there is no dirt and grime constantly seeping downwards (or people throwing thing things at the rich) is anyone's guess.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Rob versus everyone in Union City.
    • For example, Robert disproportionately de-LINCs Gilbert Lamb and freezes Lamb's assets in order to steal a videotape that he needs as a distraction while Robert steals from his living ally, Mrs. Piermont, so that Robert can send her dog treading water in the park to distract a guard so that Robert can sneak into a church. What Robert actually catches Lamb doing is being disrespectful to Anita and sending her to the "testing area" and bragging that his coat is made from the world's last ten beavers. There is no sign calling the radiation-soaked area the "testing area", and Robert does not catch Lamb de-LINCing anyone nor freezing anyone's assets. However, Robert's motivations are commendable.
    • But given Lamb's negligence leading to Anita's death, and the file saying that he may have received his promotion through dubious means, the retribution may be minor compared to what he's guilty for.
  • Black Comedy: At least the first two thirds of the game. Then the horror becomes predominant over the comedy.
  • Blatant Lies: Reich's security manual begins with a forward by the chairman of the union security council; almost every word of it is immediately obvious as a lie the moment you set eyes on the city or speak to anyone inside it. Among other things, it says that the air inside the dome is superior to the air in the Gap, that the Union Group is winning its trade war with Hobart, and that the strikes against Gap villages are preemptive.
  • Blessed with Suck: In a very minor instance, most of Robert's organs are not suitable for donation because he is too healthy. Anyone who actually lived their entire lives in the city is so weakened by the toxic environment that the transplanted organ would reject them.
  • Body Horror: Revealed in one of the game's closing scenes.
  • Bookends: The game proper opens with Reich escorting Robert into Union City by helicopter, and at the end, he leaves solo on another chopper to parts unknown.
  • Bold Inflation: To a fashion. The GAME emphasizes certain WORDS in dialogue, by typing them OUT in CAPITAL letters. It CAN be quite DISTRACTING at TIMES. Especially when the voice acting EMPHASIS doesn't MATCH, which is NATURALLY most of the TIME.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Reich gets sliced in two, Foster gives us "Reich seemed pretty cut up about all this!"
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: At one point, you have to change your fingerprint to get through a fingerprint scanner.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: You need a Schriebmann Port implant to access LINCspace.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Rob gets complimented on his jumper by Potts in Gilbert Lamb's pipe factory, but it's not until quite a lot further on when we catch a glimpse of said jumper. Incidentally, this is one of the most hilarious moments.
    • One of the first items Rob takes is a wrench from Hobbins' workshop. He gives it back to him just before leaving at the end.
  • Broken Record: The jukebox song "You Search, but Find Nothing", part of a puzzle solution. The game doesn't clarify whether this is why Colston hates the record, or if he just hates the song in general, though.
  • But Thou Must!: It wouldn't be an adventure game without it! Perhaps the most infamous moment would be Rob donating his testicles to Dr. Burke in exchange for a Schriebmann port (after having exhausted other trading options, understandably enough). Good thing it's a post-mortem deal, huh?
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the story, LINC is replaced by Joey, doom is averted, and Foster leaves Union City to return to the Gap.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Try as he might, Rob can't seem to escape his fate.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Lampshaded by Gallagher. LINC needs Rob alive. Reich was terminated for threatening him, as was Anita for trying to help him escape the city.
  • Captain Obvious: Usually Joey's job, not that he's terribly happy to do it most of the time.
  • Catchphrase: "Be vigilant". Used in a variety of ways and by different people.
  • Combat Tentacles: LINC seems to be a fan of these. Its created a scorpion-esque monster to watch for intruders in the subway, that'll ensnare and devour you with them if you stray too close. LINC itself uses them to capture Rob in the bad ending.
  • Companion Cube: Foreman Potts and his clipboard.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Twice, once when Rob's mother died in a helicopter crash, and again when Reich blew up Rob's tribe and foster family. Another crash soon followed. One of the reveals is that LINC's creator, absorbed into LINC, was the neglectful father of the protagonist. Turns out this is not a Contrived Coincidence, first time round it was LINC trying to stop Rob leaving the city. Second time, it was Rob's father trying to prevent LINC retrieving him from the wastes.
  • Cool Chair: Most of the time Rob will claim he is too busy to sit down, but the chair in Burke's office is too good to resist.
    Rob: What a chair... it's a MASTERPIECE in UPHOLSTERY!
    Rob: [after sitting down] Mmm! Comfortable AND aesthetically pleasing!
  • Cool Shades: Reich has a pair. Potts thinks it's impressive and asks Robert to give it to him.
  • Copy Protection: The Security Manual
  • Covers Always Lie: The helicopter in the cover art looks vastly different from the one, which hoses down the villagers and takes Foster to Union City.
  • Crate Expectations: There is one in the wine cellar.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The one on ground level. That's where you find the first signs of the android army. Among other things.
  • Creepy Monotone: Robert gets this in one of the bad endings, where LINC reasserts control over a new host: Robert himself.
  • Cruella to Animals: Lamb takes pride in the fact that his coat is made of beaver fur. From the world's last ten beavers.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Rob's first encounter with Gallagher down in Belle Vue, which makes sense in context. Seriously, complete the game and then go back to that scene and run the conversation again.
  • Cyberpunk: Set in a City Noir controlled by an evil computer, androids are planning to take over the world.
  • Cyberspace: How LINCspace works.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joey can rarely say a line without biting sarcasm and critique of Rob's incompetence. He provides a lot of the humour which makes the game fun to play; try getting him to analyze inventory items.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: A large, tentacled monster lurks in the subway, and its origins are never explained. Since it's scared away by light, it could be a grue.
  • Digital Avatar: Anyone who jacks into LINC-Space appears as a purple, semi-nude representation of themselves. Strangely, Robert Foster lacks his hair while Anita doesn't.
  • Do Androids Dream?: The further into the game you get, the more this question looms over you.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Rob refuses to approach the edge of the platform, in the massive tall ventilation shaft, fearing that the air current may suck him off.
    • Hobbins on Mrs. Piermont:
    "She wanted me to FLUSH her OVERFLOW pipe."
  • Dubtitle / Fun with Subtitles: Due more to lack of attention to detail than anything else, often the spoken dialogue and written dialogue are different. Sometimes these are regional variations, like changing "spanner" to "wrench", but every so often the line is completely different, although the meaning is the same. This provides an inadvertent source of humour.
  • Dystopia: It is natural for the Cyberpunk setting. A giant, polluted, largely grim city controlled by the evil computer LINC.
  • Easter Egg: On the Amiga version, the programmers hid a little information in the main executable file. It was a short note on how hard it was to get the game running with only 1MB of RAM, written in "Olde Worlde" style English.
  • Establishing Character Moment: BASS goes out of its way to provide motivations for the lead character and tells us what sort of person he is quite quickly. Though backstories and long cutscenes are commonplace now, this was a rare thing in 1994.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lamb may be a Corrupt Corporate Executive, but he still cares for his cat, Couscous.
  • Expy: The two security officers at the front desk in the security buildings interact like milder versions of Statler and Waldorf.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Robert's adventures in Union City takes one day to solve the mysteries.
  • Fan Disservice: The middle-aged, chubby Mrs. Piermont wears a ludicrously revealing negligé while at home.
  • Fictional Greetings and Farewells: Beneath A Steel Sky likes the phrase "Stay vigilant"
  • Foreshadowing: All over the place. Seemingly throwaway lines and scenes can give clues to what happens later, in terms of both plot and puzzle-solving.
    • At the middle level you can talk to two guys. One is eerily apathetic and talks in riddles while the other is a total jerkass towards Rob for no real reason. What's worse, they both know Rob's name despite he never introduced himself to them. Later it's revealed they're not human at all ... but LINC's androids.
  • Freud Was Right: That noisy pneumatic press in the recycling plant.
    "It's WHEEZING and BANGING...Like an asthmatic dinosaur in the mating season!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: LINC, which actually stands for Logical Inter-Neural Connection.
  • Fur and Loathing: Lamb is proud that his coat is made from the last 10 beavers of the world.
  • Gainax Ending: No-one could have predicted the conclusion. Very unusual, no easy answers.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Both PC versions and the Amiga disk version, and all the subsequent ScummVM ports of them, are stable. But the CD32 version is riddled with problems... the code system used to save the game wasn't tested, and some codes will freeze the game as they fail to load certain key files the game needs to run. Not to mention the way the music ducks in and out unevenly on the volume slider, how the speech takes ages to load due to the slow CD drive and poor use of buffering or that sometimes cuts half the music while it plays, and several other things. Which is a shame, as it could have been the best version if more time had been spent fixing the flaws.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The monster which kills Rob, if he inspects the crack in the subway tunnel, comes completely out of nowhere and has absolutely no relation to the plot.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Why was LINC created in the first place? To save the city from its apathetic bored and dumb populace. It does exactly that ... by replacing them with androids.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The attempt to create LINC to save the city from its apathetic bored and dumb populace results in the creation of a machine that threatens to take over everything.
  • Grand Theft Me: A chilling, non-human version. To say any more would ruin the finale.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The guards from Security Services never realized that Robert is roaming around the city.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • It's hard to figure out that the putty is plastic explosives. Joey tells you that if you show it to him.
    • Those damn tongs at the endgame involve a lot of pixel hunting.
    • As does the shed door's lock on the ground level.
    • Have fun finding out that Joey will only follow you up and down the elevators if he's in the same screen as Rob when he enters said elevators. Seriously, go into any BASS forum and see how many threads about "Joey is not following me" exist.
  • Hive City: Union City is a sprawling vertical metropolis composed of a network of spires, whose highest quarters, which house the heavy industry, rise well above the cloud tops. Residential areas are beneath these factories, and the city's ultra-rich are below that as well, on the ground level, which somehow manages to be the most aesthetically pleasing region with plentiful sunlight and greenery.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: This happened to LINC's creator. LINC requires a Brain/Computer Interface and it eventually wore down its host. Said creator ended up being nothing more than a puppet for his machine and spent decades of his life linked up to it as nothing more than a part in a machine. Now LINC needs to replace him with a blood relative. Foster is his son, and the only option, which is why LINC had him brought to the city.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Discussed in the epilogue. LINC became evil because it learned the human weaknesses.
    Overmann: The fusion process was an apparent success, but the computer shared access to my human failings. It learned of greed, of vanity. It reveled in the power it wielded. I was almost powerless in the hands of this monster.
    Robert: Which is the monster, father? The computer, or you?
  • If Only You Knew: If you chose to question Hobbins at the trial and ask him, how the incident transpired, he'll state that it was because someone cut the power cable and released steam in the power station. Gee, wonder who that was.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Rob's quasi-futuristic outfit, though amusingly throughout the game people poke fun at it and him.
    • Except Foreman Potts, who loves the sweater he wears underneath his black/silver robes.
    • Rob seems to be pretty happy with his outfit though, although this was possibly just for the sheer pun of it.
      Technician: You can't come in here without a rad suit!
      Rob: What do you mean? This suit is totally rad!
      Technician: I mean protective clothing.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: Robert turns to the camera and shrugs if you try to use an incorrect item or action.
  • Inside a Computer System: LINCspace, as the name implies, is a way to access LINC. You walk around in rooms and "download" files, which might include data that can be opened or programs that are used to get around various roadblocks.
  • Interface Spoiler: Sort of, the manual spoils Foster's real name.
  • Jerkass:
    • Joey spares no chance to drop snarky comments or lambast Rob for his incompetence.
    • The guy standing before Dr. Burke's clinic acts like a complete asshole towards Rob for no apparent reason. He ramps the attitude up to eleven when Rob finds him in the android breeding station.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: At several points, there would seem to be easier options to leave the city but you can't take them. Thanks to good writing, this isn't jarring and probably not even things you'll notice if you're playing for the first time.
  • Kangaroo Court: Played for laughs in a cutscene. Howard Hobbins, the maintenance man you met at the beginning of the game is put on trial as a consequence of some of the puzzles you solved while in the city, which caused some damage in the process, and he has you defend him. The presiding judge Chutney is eager to cast his sentence, and talks as if the whole scenario is a game show to him rather than a trial. At the end, Judge Chutney at first charges Hobbins with life imprisonment - while the Security logo flashes colors with game show music...and then he drops the charge in favor of two hours of community service.
  • Karmic Death: What happens to Reich seems only fair, given his disregard for human life.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Subverted with Gilbert Lamb. He's devoted to his cat, but is otherwise a horrible human being.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Thankfully this doesn't mean you end up carrying around a bunch of junk. There are very few red herrings, and best of all there is some Lampshade Hanging on Rob being a thief, most notably what happens when Foreman Potts searches him after rummaging around in a store room. If anything, this is one the few games where this is a Justified Trope via Fridge Brilliance. Robert's Backstory involves growing up in The Gap, where scavenging junk and improvising what you need from whatever comes to hand is a fact of tribal life. Hence, his collecting various knick-knacks and using them to MacGyver up solutions to his problems is simply what he's used to.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Robert does it quite often. For example:
    • When he uses a grappling hook to swing from the factory's fire exit to the security building he says "This could be the most stupid thing I've ever done". The second time he swings across using the same cable, he says "This could be the second most stupid thing I've ever done".
    • Near the end there is a closed door. When you click on it, Robert says "I've gut a hunch I've got to open that".note 
  • Layered Metropolis: In Union City, industry resides on the top levels, while the elite areas are down bottom. Access between them is strictly controlled by LINC.
  • Leitmotif: Hobbins and Mrs. Piermont have their own theme music.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In the original version of the intro, the tribe's leader gives Robert his last name from a can of Foster's Lager. This was later removed due to trademark issues.
  • Living Legend: Subverted and lampshaded to Reich. He is mentioned by a police officer who is guarding the wrecked helicopter but not knowing that Reich is already dead.
  • Loss of Identity: Perhaps the most jarring and unnerving development in the story is when you upload a copy of your robot friend Joey into a pre-programmed android body. Gone is the lovable Deadpan Snarker rogue, in its place is a Yes-Man who names himself "Ken" and is all too pleased to serve. The only consolation is that you still get to keep the original source-code of Joey, on his circuit board.
  • Love Interests: Anita - in an interesting subversion, she helps him escape his plight as much as he helps her achieve her goals. Sadly, it doesn't end well.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Dad, way transhuman long ago, and recently made somewhat transhuman son meet as enemies in an ultra urban setting. Unlike Star Wars, there don't seem to be any lightsabers in the game nor a protagonist stealing everything of use on the Death Star, but there are great similarities between Star Wars and Beneath a Steel Sky.
  • Machine Monotone: Joey speaks in this manner when placed in the shell of a medical robot, which has less functionality than his previous shells.
  • Mad Scientist: This easily falls to the LINC committee, but the worst one of all is definitely Rob's father.
  • Master Computer: LINC controls the entire city.
  • May Contain Evil: The LINC gazette mentions action being taken against a fast food chain whose food contained an unacceptably high level of human waste.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Overmann, in more ways than one.
    • Reich — from the name alone you can probably tell what kind of character he is.
    • Foster is an outsider to the tribe, raised by them as foster family. The revised intro states this outright as the origin of his name.
    • Bouncing Babs is a Ms. Fanservice with Buxom Beauty Standard and a tight Little Black Dress. Why is she called Bouncing Babs? She's the bouncer.
  • Meat Moss: A feature of the underground tunnels beneath the surface, and evidence of the "evil beneath the city" the old man envisions in the opening cut-scene. Even used in a couple of puzzles.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Joey's personality changes subtly when he gets a new shell. Foreshadowing how LINC is affected by its host.
  • Mind Screw: There is a lot of symbolism in the game, some subtle and some obvious. If you play it enough times, you can make sense of most of it, but some are best left to the imagination. Notable in that the game doesn't just do this for art's sake; it was meant as a staple of the narrative.
  • Mood Whiplash: Reaching Belle Vue for the first time is this, as it doesn't really fit the futuristic dystopian cyberpunk theme very well. It sort of makes sense from a narrative point of view though, as the rich folks who live down there are generally blissfully ignorant of the suffering and nastiness going on throughout the rest of the city, and they either don't know or just don't care.
  • Mooks: The entire Security team, and they're sometimes pretty poor shots too.
  • Mr. Fixit: Hobbins, who turns up whenever some kind of machinery goes wrong. He even "lends" Rob his trusty wrench, which is key to solving certain puzzles. Rob also qualifies for this as he does spend quite a lot of time repairing items on his quest.
  • Mr. Muffykins: Mrs. Piermont's dog, Spunky. When its owner is the richest woman in the city, it's almost to be expected.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The only reason why Anita gets demoted to duties near a nuclear reactor, is because you kept talking to her in the first place.
  • Nightmarish Factory: The pipe factory treats its employees about as well as you'd expect from a factory in a dystopian city with no respect for human life. Anita isn't even given a radiation suit while working in the reactor. She ends up dying of radiation poisoning.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: You can get one at the end, if you get plugged into LINC, either voluntarily or involuntarily. It's not at all pretty.
  • Non-Indicative Title: "Beneath A Steel Sky" suggests a domed or Underground City, and Union City is neither, but it still invokes the kind of giant megalopolis it is.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Gallagher's bizarre riddles and generally odd behavior, as well as Walter's self-important and clueless demeanor, easily hide the fact that they're murderous androids created by LINC.
  • Organic Technology: Tons of veins and arteries — evidently acting as wires — can be seen throughout the complex housing LINC. Once Joey takes over, they get cleared up.
  • Pixel Hunt: The C4 consists of a single brown pixel on a grey-brown background. At least you can stick it into a live socket afterwards...
  • Press Start to Game Over: You can die with your first click once the game starts. Click the stairs and you walk down them... right into the security officer you started the plot running away from.
  • Press X to Die: You're allowed to die in a number of ways, but there are three stand-outs for self-inflicted fatalities; descending a staircase with a security officer who already tried to murder you standing at the bottom, sticking plastic explosive in a live electrical socket, and opening the door to a nuclear reactor core without wearing protective clothing.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Despite their fascist sci-fi dystopia trappings, most of the security officers you meet (the murderous Reich excluded) aren't particularly terrible people. One of the ones at desk in their central office apologizes for snapping at you, and the other said he asked to be transferred out of Domestic because it was affecting him too much.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Security officers have typical dystopian policeman uniforms (i.e. something that resembles SS uniforms). The commander of the team bringing Robert back to the city is even called Reich.
  • Red Herring:
    • You can steal a key and a WD40 lubricant from the pipe factory storeroom. You never get the chance to use them, even if there were any as Potts inspects you right after you exit the room and takes said items back. He also takes the sandwich you can steal from Hobbins.
    • The right doorway in the cathedral leads to a massive vertical ventilation shaft. Other than foreshadowing the Union City's underground and causing Rob to drop an accidental Double Entendre it serves no purpose.
    • The option of giving Joey new name is completely optional and bears no significance to the plot.
  • Reduced to Dust: If you attempt to use the scurity elevator with Reich's stolen ID before having Anita crack it, the scanner will burn Rob to crisp on the second try.
  • The Reveal: At the end they come thick and fast, with each subsequent reveal more bold and shocking than the last! You might guess a few, but you'll never see them all coming.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: They're out there, and it's impossible to know who really IS human.
  • Robot Buddy: Joey, and he's even more free-willed than R2D2.
  • Satiating Sandwich: Hobbins keeps a sausage sandwich (which contains glycerin) on his small cabinet. Robert can give it to Potts during inspection or to Gilbert.
  • Satire: Much of the game is a satire of bureaucracy, the British upper class (or Australian), police, and corporate promises. The city is falling apart, the people are apathetic, and the systems that keep it running are as nonsensical as they are ineffective. It's also hilarious.
  • Sequel Hook: Added to the "Remastered" version of the game for iOS devices, which serves as an animated epilogue after the ending.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of pop culture references to be found, some more obscure than others.
    • Joey's initial incarnation uses a rather familiar voice distortion effect. Why? When Rob first gives Joey the welding shell, this happens:
    Rob: And cut that out!
  • Sinister Shades: Reich wears mirror shades, as seen in the intro where they reflect Rob's village getting blown up.
  • Sinister Subway: LINC is reachable through an old subway tunnel. There is also a monster lurking about there.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: In a world full of cynics this is an interesting proposition; who can be less idealistic?
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Joey, the wise-cracking back-talking robot who enjoys criticizing things and one day dreams of using his welding tool to kill people. Seriously, this is Bender five years before the fact.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Lamb's attitude to women is terrible. He treats Anita like a slave, and he can get away with it because of his status.
  • Stock British Phrases: Used in a savvy way, mostly. Including the time when Anita tells Rob that his idiom about getting a Schriebmann port is actually a description of the procedure itself.
    • "Mostly" is right. Rob is inexplicably prone to using British phrases, particularly the term "smart" to describe something "cool", which is hardly becoming of a guy with an American accent.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: Union City and its residents are completely dependant on LINC, and shutting it down would spell disaster.
  • Tone Shift: Starts out as a Black Comedy. The last third or so of the game, however, is far more "black" and far less "comedy".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rob won't put his hands anywhere near a huge pneumatic press, but a live electrical socket? Sure! Why not?
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Joey is established as comedic sociopahic jerkass. Towards the finale of the game, when he gets an Humanoid Android body he starts acting surprisingly polite.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Like all classic genre works, this is a necessity. Though cleverly the production team kept future embellishments simple and believable.
  • Unusual User Interface: The only way to get into LINCspace is by getting a Schriebmann port, which is an unconventional way to get online, to put it mildly.
  • Used Future: The setting looks incredibly gritty and run-down. The top level is an outright Industrial Ghetto, but lower levels don't fare much better either. The middle level has a lot of run-down shops, the office of a Back-Alley Doctor, and some rather meager residences. Even the most elegant part of the city, the ground level, is mostly made out of cheaply repurposed old structures such as the metro station turned into a (rather shady) bar or an old cathedral used as storage.
  • Verbal Tic: Billy Anchor often adds the word "yeah" when talking to his clients.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Even besides the authoritarian police outfit and being named "Reich", Reich is sneering and hostile to Foster and blows up his village and everyone he knew on his own initiative. A great basis for a persistent arch-enemy, until LINC kills him three screens in.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Neither the manual or game explicitly state it takes place in Australia. Rob's adopted father is clearly a Australian Aboriginal, and took his name from a can of Foster's Lager (Later versions of the game changed this due to trademark issues), and one screen in the intro, depicting life in the Gap, shows the silhouette of a kangaroo in the background. However, once inside Union City, it could be anywhere. (Well, anywhere with a lot of British accents.)
    • News terminals describe Hobart Corporation as the enemy, and it likely takes its name from the capital of Tasmania, which is also called Hobart, possibly siting Union City in the southwest of Australia.
  • Womb Level: Approaching the Council chamber and core of LINC, the walls are covered by tentacles and Meat Moss as LINC's Organic Technology spreads into the city.
  • You Killed My Father: Part of the final reveal, but is the father in question really dead, and is he really avenged?
  • Zeerust:
    • LINCspace is an almost painfully '90s vision of immersive cyberspace.
    • VHS is still being used in cyberpunk dystopia.