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.
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.
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.
Similar to: Heavy Rain