Beyond: Two Souls Review
Those people who know of Quantic Dream know of the games that they produce. The games don’t necessarily have the greatest emphasis on stellar gameplay, but focus more on story. Games like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy are stellar examples of this emphasis. While the games don’t focus on gameplay, they are still very fun. That is, at least for the first time around. This latest installment of Quantic Dreams game is no different from this. Here’s a review of Beyond: Two Souls.
The story follows Jodie Holmes, a girl with a unique past. She starts with her explaining that there’s something wrong, but we aren’t told what. The game goes through Jodie’s past, one piece at a time. There are tough times ahead of her, but she also has someone by her side. A spirit of some sort, that Jodie refers to as Aiden. Aiden makes her a prime target for a secret special forces team through the government.
The story is told in a way that can be confusing for players who don’t pay attention. Players change between childhood, teenage years, and adulthood, in almost a random fashion. Gameplay is shown through cutscenes mostly. Players have to tilt the right stick in the direction that Jodie is moving. If the player does so correctly, the cutscene continues favorably. If tilted wrong, or not at all, something happens that impedes Jodie’s progress/escape. One missed action doesn’t necessarily mean “Game Over” though. Depending on the situation, it may just mean the scene will play out differently. It may mean that players don’t escape with the greatest flair, or that Jodie will be captured. That’s more of the point of the game, that players have many different options that will affect what happens to Jodie and the characters around her.
While I really enjoy how the gameplay almost masks the previous button prompts through cutscenes, it’s also a curse to the game. The new “tilt with Jodie” is unobtrusive to the game itself, but it is rather difficult to see which way players have to tilt most of the time. Camera angles change rapidly through intense scenes, and players can lose the directions entirely. This doesn’t make the game unplayable, just difficult to succeed in every opportunity.
The character interactions are also a high point for this game. With one character in particular, Cole, there is a great interaction between him and Jodie. Jodie looks up to him as a father, and he acts accordingly. The other characters that Jodie meets along her way all are interesting in some fashion and personally made me want to see each of their stories to the end. The game gives players enough to make them invested, but not enough to tell their entire story unless the player focuses on them.
Another point where Quantic Dream shines is in their graphics. They focus a lot of making the characters feel and look real, and they have done just that. The characters show emotion, in a way that the players can easily tell. The environments around Jodie look like places that you can go visit yourself. The entire world is full of life, and is wonderful to look at. Though it’s not enough to really bring people into the game on it’s own.
The voice acting for the game is fantastic. While some of the dialogue is a bit cheesey, the characters themselves have voices that fit the character itself. The music otherwise isn’t really anything that impressive. It feels like a generic movie soundtrack, which is how this game way advertised in the first place. Narrative games do focus more on story and graphics, but a better soundtrack wouldn’t hurt the game in the slightest.
Yes: two players can play this game together. One will control Jodie, and the other will control her mysterious friend Aiden. However, both players can’t play at the same time. It will either be Jodie or Aiden, and the players have to manually switch between the two of them. The game doesn’t prompt when this change is necessary, which can make it difficult to progress if it’s not considered at all times. Might as well just share one controller as opposed to switching control to each player, but that’s a design choice by the studio that seemed to work for them.
All in all, the game is enjoyable if players understand that they are getting into a narrative game. While the marketing made it look like an action game, make no mistake that it’s an interactive story. The game is good for the first play through, but replay value can be low unless you give yourself plenty of time to forget the story. Play solo, or grab a friend, the game is fun either way.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: US – October 9, 2013; EU – October 11, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3 Digital: Yes
Price: US – $59.99 EU – €59.99 Rating: ESRB:M PEGI:16
Players: Single Player or Local Co-op