Beyond: Two Souls Review
As this console generation is nearing its end, it seems as though developers are pumping out tons of epic games to give us gamers even more memorable moments with the consoles that have provided us with years upon years of entertainment. It has been quite an eventful past few months for Sony’s Playstation 3 specifically, as the long-awaited, perfect-scored horror game The Last of Us was released exclusively for the console. Many of us were also excited for the release of another Playstation 3 exclusive, Beyond: Two Souls. With a star-studded cast and high expectations as its developer, Quantic Dream, has been known to bring us emotionally enticing and unique games such as Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, many gamers suspected that Beyond: Two Souls would land a top spot on their ‘favorite games of the year’ list. Yet, while Beyond: Two Souls is surely beautiful with great voice acting and a gripping storyline, fans of the previous Quantic Dream games may find its lack of enthralling gameplay mechanics makes it fall short of expectations.
Quantic Dream games have always been known for their storytelling. With the idea of their games being more along the lines of interactive movies, we are able to throw ourselves directly into the games and therefore feel a stronger attachment to the characters. We will never forget the pain that Ethan Mars felt and all of the daunting tasks that he had to go through in Heavy Rain because of the way the storytelling and gameplay fit so well together to make it an extremely memorable experience. Beyond: Two Souls surely fits the high standards when it comes to its storyline, providing a gripping tale of a young girl named Jodie who, from birth, has been bound to an ominous entity named Aiden.
Having an invisible, somewhat aggressive entity who is constantly with you proves to be quite bothersome for Jodie, who finds that her life is wrecked because of her difference: she is labeled a freak by her peers and undergoes traumatic bullying. Even her love life is affected as Aiden proves himself to be quite the jealous type and overly protective of Jodie. However, Aiden can also be a useful companion to have around, constantly saving Jodie from life-threatening peril and being someone that Jodie can always turn to when the rest of the world seems to turn its back on her.
Throughout the game, we witness the transformation of Jodie- from a young, frightened girl, to a strong, brave woman as she travels all around the world with a common goal: to protect the world and those she loves from entities who are a million times more dangerous than Aiden. The story of Jodie and Aiden is sincerely endearing and it will surely be hard for you to pry away from your Playstation 3 console once you get going. With heartbreaking moments that truly make you feel for the characters, Beyond: Two Souls’ storyline is the best quality of the game and something that makes it worth playing.
Gameplay is one of the most important aspects of a video game. If there were no gameplay, it wouldn’t be a game at all, merely a movie that you take no part in whatsoever, just silently observing. While Quantic Dream has always kept their releases in a middle ground between video game and movie, which many have dubbed as being ‘interactive movies’, it is still a video game and the gameplay aspects are surely just as important and necessary to make the audience feel like they are truly part of the world of Beyond: Two Souls and not merely a bystander. In previous games, intricate quick-time events and fast-paced joystick moves were used to keep players in the action of the game. However, gameplay in Beyond: Two Souls is quite lacking and hinders the game in a noticeable fashion.
In the beginning of Beyond: Two Souls you go through army training with Jodie. You go through obstacle courses, learn how to fight, learn how to use a gun, and learn how to evade enemies by using cover mechanics. This is where you learn all of the combat techniques that will be necessary in Beyond: Two Souls. However, the gun mechanic is completely pointless to learn, as you will not be using a gun at any point in Beyond: Two Souls. The most important thing to remember is how to get into cover and how to stealth kill enemies, as, while those moments are also seldom, they will come in handy at one portion in the game.
The main problem with the gameplay in Beyond: Two Souls? There isn’t much of it to begin with. Generally, the most action you’ll be doing is moving your joystick in the designated direction to interact with certain objects or people. When the time does come when you are put into a crazy action sequence, the quick-time events are done in a fashion that can be somewhat confusing as you have to guess which direction you have to move your joystick in in order to move Jodie out of harm’s way or successfully block an attack. This is all based upon which direction Jodie’s body is moving. For example, if she is going to throw a punch at someone with her right arm, you would move the right joystick to the left, as the punch would be going to the left side of the screen. This can be confusing as sometimes it is hard to tell which direction she is trying to move in and can cause you to encounter numerous errors. Although you may make mistakes during these events, Quantic Dream have eliminated fail screens, meaning you will never be penalized for your mistakes, you may just get a bit bloodier. This takes out a large amount of difficulty as it gives us no need to really master the gameplay mechanics as we are not forced to correct our mistakes.
The majority of your gameplay will be done through not Jodie, but Aiden. In Beyond: Two Souls, you can become the invisible entity, floating around undetected, executing enemies and causing distractions for Jodie to finish up the job or get away unharmed. One of the coolest parts of becoming Aiden is that you can possess the bodies of certain enemies and force them to kill their comrades and then themselves.
Overall, the gameplay in Beyond: Two Souls leaves much to be desired if you are a fan of previous Quantic Dream games as the immersive interactivity and difficult quick-time events have been broken down into a more confusing, less intricate mechanic that is only a minor part of the game.
Graphics are another aspect that Beyond: Two Souls truly shines in. This game will show you just how powerful your Playstation 3 is through an absolutely beautiful display of graphical prowess. This game is up there with The Last of Us when it comes to graphics, and that is saying a lot. The character models in Beyond: Two Souls are extremely intricate, making them look quite realistic and nearly exact replicas of their actor counterparts. Jodie, portrayed by Ellen Page, is a complete embodyment of Ms. Page, from freckles to hair and every detail possible. Similarly, Willem Dafoe took on the role of Jodie’s doctor, mentor, and guardian, Nathan Dawkins, and his character model is truly something to marvel at as well
Scenery is also done very well. From areas that are dark, dim, and ominous, to the orange-tinted beauty of the desert, to a bright white landscape that is completely filled with snow, Beyond: Two Souls will have you gasping in awe at how gorgeous this game is. Beyond takes you to numerous places around the world and each one will leave you astounded. This game truly shows off the current gen in a way that shows just how far the Playstation 3 has progressed since its initial launch.
The soundtrack to Beyond: Two Souls is merely average and nothing that you will be remembering once you finish the game. There is very little when it comes to music and nothing that you will be all too impressed by. It’s there, and it gets the job done. However, one thing that is impressive is the voice acting. Beyond: Two Souls did something that no other game on the market has done as they decided to choose two award-winning actors for the roles of their main characters: Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. This was a great choice, as both Page and Dafoe acted out their roles amazingly, yet at the same time, having a star-studded cast can cause some distractions.
When you are playing as a character voiced by an actor that you have never heard before with a character model that looks like no one in particular, it is easier for you to feel a connection with that character because it will be harder for you to have the realization that the character is merely an actor and not anyone real. In Beyond: Two Souls though, you have characters voiced by actors that you have surely seen in movies before, and these characters are spitting images of their actor counterparts, easily giving you the sense that this is merely an acted out role, not real life, and nothing you should get too invested in, making it harder for us to connect with the characters on a personal level and easily reminds us of the actors’ previous roles. However, if Quantic Dream were to choose any celebrities to take on the roles of Jodie and Nathan, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe surely took the cake as they acted out their characters in splendid fashion.
With beautiful graphics, stellar voice acting, and a beautiful story, Beyond: Two Souls is surely a game that you will be wanting to play as this console generation nears its end. It keeps you wanting more as you explore the life of Jodie, Aiden, and Nathan and it is quite hard to pry away from once you get sucked in. However, fans of previous Quantic Dream games will surely be disappointed by its lackluster gameplay. Beyond: Two Souls takes Quantic Dream’s idea of interactive movies and excels on the “movie” aspect, but remains inadequate in the “interactive” aspect that would make this a high-ranking video game.