Beyond: Two Souls
Holy Shit I love David Cage
Played to completion once, no reloading
Beyond: Two Souls is exactly what I wanted it to be. Itís the sequel to Heavy Rain in every sense of the word. The writing is improved, the actors actually act, the gameplay system is more intuitive, and the game just flows better than Heavy Rain ever did. Quantic Dreamís games are getting better, but thereís still room for improvement.
Willem Dafoe is best known for his performance in Being John Malkovich ll: District Dafoe
Beyond opens at the end of the storyline, with main character Jodie Holmes (no relation) telling the player that she needs to remember everything that happened in her life. From there we are thrust into her shoes as she grows from a small child into a grown adult, but not in a linear fashion. Instead the game has a Pulp Fictionesque style that tosses you around a timeline. One level youíre playing as teenage Jodie, the next youíre a frightened child hiding from monsters under the bed, then the next youíre a CIA operative on a mission to assassinate a warlord. I've struggled with myself as to whether this is a positive or a negative. If the games story went about in a linear fashion, I might have been more connected to Jodie and the other prominent characters. Then again, the jumping around keeps things interesting. Every chapter something new and cool was introduced, and I got surprised again and again by Jodieís ever changing fashion sense.
This game is gorgeous. Everything about it is so crisp and real; I couldn't help but think that we could have kept this gen going a bit longer. Of course I expected the game to look good, considering itís supposed to be a cinematic experience, but I was blown away by how amazing the graphics are. The faces are especially impressive, with a level of detail that is literally jaw dropping. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoeís (Our lord and savior) acting combined with the amazing visuals really sell the whole experience.†
Ellen Page is best known for her performance in The Last of Us as 14 year old Ellie
A lot of flak has been thrown David Cages way in regards to his writing ability. Considering the many plot holes and absurdities present in his previous games, itís fair for people to presume that Beyond wonít be any better, and in many ways itís not. The game is still full of cliches and ham-fisted lines that occasionally pull you out of the experience, but itís gotten a lot better. There are no real plot holes as far as I can tell, and characters are almost 100% believable. Gone are the out of place French accents and red herrings of Heavy Rain. Instead the game offers a pretty straight forward story, with a few twist and turns but nothing mid blowing. Of course the game is chock full of movie tropes, such as a mysterious other world called the ďInfraworldĒ, a couple of completely shoed in love interests, and donít forget about the corrupt government officials! †In the context of the game the story works, and kept me interested for the 10 or so hours I played.
Now we get to the controversial ďgameplay.Ē Let me just get this out the way and say the Beyond is without a doubt a game, and anyone debating that it isn't a game is a jerk. The gameplay essentially boils down to moving with the left stick and interacting with things using the right stick. Itís a pretty cool context sensitive system where small white dots appear on things you can interact with and you move the right analog stick towards the dot to perform the interaction. Gameplay is completely different in high action scenes. The game will move in slow motion for a few seconds and you as the player have to move the right stick in the same direction that Jodie is physically moving on screen. For example thereís a scene where you have to fight off 3 attackers on top of a moving train. When Jodie throws a right handed punch you have to push right on the analog stick to succeed. When you need to duck, you push down on the analog stick. Itís an intuitive system and a great idea, but I consistently ran into the problem of not knowing which direction to push, or pushing what I thought was the correct direction but failing. It can get really frustrating but since there are no game overs it isn't too much of an issue. The final piece of the puzzle is the second soul referenced in the title; Aiden. Aiden is a sort of spirit that Jodie has control over, and this is what makes Jodie so special plot wise. As Aiden, you can forcefully interact with objects, possess humans, and occasionally heal people. Again, itís a great idea, but in execution Aiden is very limited in his interactions. He can only possess certain people and only interact with specific objects. It leads to moments where you wonder why Aiden canít just rescue Jodie from some of the horrible situations she gets into by possessing/killing her attackers.†
No Quantic Dream game is complete without a shower scene.
Beyond: Two Souls is sort of an outsider in the gaming world. Itís been labeled as an interactive drama, a game for the masses, and a wannabe Hollywood picture. To me itís a game that drew me in harder than any other game has since Quantic Dreams last venture, Heavy Rain. Its gameplay is simple and limited, but itís that gameplay combined with the drama of the plot that makes Beyond so great. When I have to mash the X button to save Jodieís life, or hold down a series of buttons to hide from the cops, I can feel the excitement and intensity of the events on screen. I want to scream and yell at Jodie to move faster, because Iím so invested in her story. When Iím playing the game I can disregard the nagging problems with the writing because Iím in so deep in the moment. Tons of people laugh at David Cage and his constant quest to squeeze more emotion out of his games. Iím personally waiting with bated breath to see his if his next game continues the constant cycle of improvement that started 8 years ago with Indigo Prophecy.