Beyond: Two Souls Review
It's a very rare occurrence when I play a video game disguised as a movie. In all honesty, I can only name three games off the top of my head: Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead and Asura's Wrath. To label Beyond: Two Souls just a video game would be doing an injustice to the men and women who designed it. Make no mistake, Beyond: Two Souls is more interactive movie than it is video game. Many will be turned away by this realization while others shall welcome Jodie Holmes and Aiden with open arms. I stand among the people with my arms open wide; I've been a fan of Quantic Dream's work in the past. As of now, Beyond has polarized anyone who has played, whether they enjoyed the experience or came away thinking it lacked substance.I say, a different point of view is required and it could even be said that Beyond is an acquired taste.
To load up this game and expect to have a normal gaming experience is the first step in doing it wrong. Beyond is anything but normal as it hinders a majority of what a player can do. Walking in the shoes of troubled Jodie Holmes and her floating poltergeist companion Aiden, players are tasked with the responsibility of witnessing several important moments in Jodie's life. Whether it's her being bullied, the training she went through with the C.I.A., or being homeless, Beyond tries to invoke some sort of emotional response from the people playing. "Does it work"? This is entirely dependent on the individual. Someone totally invested here will most likely feel the proper response, while those who could care less, probably won't feel a thing. It's a shame this game didn't get the proper welcome it deserved, but people's opinions aren't the sole reason for its treatment.
For one, the gameplay is severely limited and boils down to a glorified point and click title. Interacting with environments as either Jodie or Aiden presents some entertainment, especially as Aiden. Tossing items around rooms, turning off TVs and much more, can be done. So what's the catch? You can only perform these actions if and only if the game allows you to do so. See, as the entity, there are these blue orbs that float on objects. These are the only objects that can be influenced and only in the way the game is programmed to act. Players can't look at a fan and expect to rip it out of the ceiling because that's not how this game works. This alone could turn people off to the idea of playing but again; it all comes down to the individual.
Using Aiden isn't the only piece of the gameplay. Jodie handles a majority of the exploration, which drives the story forward. Using Jodie also brings the QTEs into the picture and these are rather different. Instead of always showing you what button or motion that needs to be done, Beyond focuses on keen observation to successful pull off QTEs. It all comes down to what Jodie is about to do and for the player to initiate. If Jodie has to duck under a swinging punch, the player must push down on the analog stick. When Jodie throws a punch, players must read the direction of her punch and push the stick in that direction. All of these moments are accompanied by slow motion to ensure plenty of time is given to the player. It took me awhile to get in the groove especially for those QTE heavy segments, but practice makes perfect in this case. Even if the wrong input is made, correcting the mistake is possible by doing the other movements properly. I found it really engrossing to see Jodie develop bruises or cuts if I messed up in a fight because each engagement made me fear I could potentially mess up.
Because I knew what type of game this would be, I wasn't at all disappointed with the gameplay or lack thereof. Obviously, it has problems but is no where near as bad as most are claiming it to be.
Another problem surrounding Beyond could be the misinterpretation of it playing similar to Heavy Rain. This is a false assumption that damages rather than encourages. The only real similarity between the two games is the same developer, usage of motion capture for the actors and point and click nature. Player choice is a important aspect in Heavy Rain but not so much with this title. Instead of having the player make critical and mundane choices, Beyond holds the player's hand as it guides them through the supernatural themed plot. I understand all this linear gameplay and lack of any solid choice is enough to cause the rift which has split the two sides, which is why I really can't be upset. Add the price tag of $60 on top of the Beyond sundae and it's only natural to expect some people to put the spoon or in this case, the controller down.
While this experience lacks any real gameplay, it makes up for it with the gorgeous looking graphics and superb voice acting by actors Ellen Page, William Dafoe, Kadeem Hardison and many more. Plus, I also quite enjoyed the story with all the time skips and whatnot. However, said time skips do hold the potential to confuse people as to when events are taking place. Overall, the game took me 20+ hours to beat and I still plan on a second playthrough to try different paths and see one of the other endings.
Another point I was really impressed with is the amount of detail that went into the animations and visuals. When I say Beyond feels like a movie, I really do mean that in a lot of ways. Most of the camera angles represents high levels of cinematography; further engrossing players into the world. As stated before, the voice acting is top notch and allows the script to be told in a seamless fashion. All the pieces work together and the end result is a polished telling of a girl struggling to deal with the supernatural and her life affected by it.
At the end of the day, Beyond: Two Souls comes across as a game that wants to be a movie and while it succeeds, it doesn't have much value after it's finished. To people like me, we'll always find a reason to come back and replay but for the rest; a rental is simply enough.
- Barely any replay value
- Steep price tag
- Extremely linear
- Fantastic voice acting
- Great attention to details/graphics
- Enjoyable storytelling
If I could be biased, I would give this game a 9 out of 10 because I truly believe it deserves that score on a personal level. Instead, I'm forced to lower the number based on the simple fact that Beyond: Two Souls just isn't for everyone and much of what is offered simply isn't enough to warrant such a high score. Is this a terrible game? By no means is Beyond terrible and shouldn't be looked upon as such. It's a beautifully flawed titled that offers up very little in exchange for a great cost.