gaming / 11/10/2013

Review: Beyond Two Souls

BeyondTwoSoulsBeyond: Two Souls is an interactive drama from Quantic Dreams, the studio famed for a previous PS3 blockbuster Heavy Rain.

As with the previous title, Beyond: Two Souls is more of an interactive entertainment experience than a video game.

The main character, Jodie Holmes is played by Ellen Page and the story moves back-and-forth through 15 years of her life from a little girl to angsty teenager to ex-CIA agent on the run. Jodie has a connection to a spirit she calls Aiden, who she is able to call on in times of need, to help her when she’s stuck or for protection.

The story is emotive, particularly as it focuses on how her connection with Aiden isolates her as a child and a teenager. Unfortunately the story is not told chronologically and jumping back and forth in the story disengages the audience.

That being said, Ellen Page’s performance is magnificent and Willem Dafoe, who plays Jodie’s doctor and mentor, ably accompanies her. In fact, Page and Dafoe’s father-daughter chemistry is one of the highlights of the game and holds together the somewhat disjointed storyline.

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The in-game control is relatively limited. The player is able to move Jodie around and interact with some of the objects in the environment. Both, simple movements like opening a door, or more complex things like jumping, ducking or combat can be done with a simple flick of a thumbstick.

While Jodie has the freedom to move around, she is only able to interact with a limited amount of objects in the environment. Even choices to play chapters in two completely different ways have no real consequence to the story.

Another major disappointment is controlling Aiden. Aiden can pass through walls and ceilings, possess certain enemies, kill other and move items; though it is never explained why you can only do certain actions to certain objects and baddies. Consequently, even Aiden’s sections feels completely confined and without choice. The potential for complex interactive puzzles between Jodie and Aiden is never fully exploited by the writers.

Overall, the game feels like an interactive movie rather than a video game. While Page and Dafoe’s brilliant performance hold the story together, you often feel like a passive participant rather then deeply engaged. Beyond: Two Souls is an experience that I might have enjoyed more as movie rather than a game.

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VERDICT

The good: Story is intense (particularly emotional as a parent); Page and Dafoe’s performance; graphics are stunning; can play two players.
The bad: Non chronological story disconnects you from engaging; limited interaction.
Rating: 5/10
Similar to: Heavy Rain



Sameer Parker's passion lies in gaming. From his early days playing real-time strategy games to his latest obsession with Shooters and RPGs, he has been playing games passionately for almost two decades. While his home time is spent divided between being a new dad and training for his first marathon, he grabs every opportunity to sit down with his XBOX and push up his gamerscore.




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  • Joseph Blower

    Your mileage may vary, but for me, the game is transcendent.

    It transcends both video games and movies to become something greater than either medium would ever be by themselves. I’m an avid gamer (I have 400+ Steam games, 400+ iOS games, and 100+ console games). Yet–to speak for myself–*I* found this game far more moving, thought-provoking, meaningful, and entertaining than many other games (including Super Mario Galaxy 1-2, Grand Theft Auto 4-5, The Last of Us, and others).

    I can only compare it to Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead, or the Metal Gear Solid series: deep rich stories that have themes and messages that convey something of lasting meaning; something beyond the mindless (but fun) shooting and platforming of other titles.

    I will remember this game for years to come. There are few works of fiction of any medium for which I can say the same.

    If you like a rich deep story line and don’t care about a lack of “agency” (it’s always illusory in video games, anyway–there are always incredibly restrictive rules on game play), then this is *the* game of the seventh generation. The comparably minor errors in execution and direction can be ignored, when viewed in light of the whole.

    Indeed, the question of whether this qualifies as a game is, like Dear Ester, a largely irrelevant and pedantic: It entertains. It provokes thought. It is emotionally moving. And it illustrates that games–like cinema or literature–can be taken seriously as a medium to both entertain and enlighten.

    It seems to me that most reviewers of this game have profoundly and tragically missed the point.