I’m standing in Albert Square. The Town Hall looms behind me. It has fallen into disrepair, no longer the glorious building we know today. The square itself is overgrown. Crates and signal masts populate the square. I stand in a walled fortress. I’m being attacked on all sides by scavengers. I hack a turret and set it on auto. It kills indiscriminately. I’m taking fire. I can’t spot the attacker. I turn, but too late. Signal lost. Three lives left.

This is Manchester. This is Beyond Flesh and Blood.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, you pilot a Tactical Combat Frame (or mech), a killing machine piloted by the United Global Remnant, fighting human scavengers and something far less pleasant. The demo I’m playing is an early build of the game but, aside from a few glitches and imperfections, it shows the scale of what local developers Pixelbomb Games are trying to achieve.

This is not the first time games have depicted a post-apocalyptic Manchester. Resistance: Fall of Man springs to mind – just don’t mention it to your local priest, the Church of England were unhappy with scenes of violence depicted within a faithfully reconstructed Manchester Cathedral – but here the game aesthetic is more reminiscent of the ruined New York of the oft overlooked Enslaved: Journey to The West, an engaging sci-fi twist on the Monkey legend. This is recognisably Manchester, but devastated, desecrated ground. Looming skyscrapers and local landmarks lie in ruins and the city is overgrown.

The demo is freely available and features a base defence mission that gives you a flavour of the combat and core mechanics. It’s a solid and challenging fight and the game specs aren’t too taxing on my old machine. Beyond Flesh and Blood certainly has ambition and the team are currently building more features and parts of Manchester in which to wreak havoc. I will never look at Albert Square the same way again.

Beyond Flesh and Blood will be released on PC and console later in the year, but the early build demo can be downloaded for free on their website. We’ll have an interview with the design team in next month’s issue.

Sean Mason