Video Game Review – BEYOND: TWO SOULS

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My view of Beyond: Two Souls is completely bias. You see, Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) was one of my favourite video games on the PS2, and Heavy Rain exceeded my high expectations. David Cage and those at Quantic Dream constantly strive to push forward they way we see and play games, and this could only be applauded. It represents a future of gaming that is strong with story narrative and light on actual game-playing. If you want mostly mind-less gaming fun … there will always be Grand Theft Auto V and such.

Jodie Holmes (fully motion-captured by Ellen Page) has a psychic connection to an entity she names Aiden. Over the course of fifteen years, from early childhood to young adult, psychologist Nathan Dawkins (fully motion-captured by Willem Dafoe) aids her in dealing with her special passenger and her abilities.

Technically, the most photo-realistic video game of this generation. However, it’s not just the character likeness that is outstanding, but also their way of movement and interaction within the world that helps convey the realism of the characters. A landmark moment of voice and physical acting performance, that at the very least may inspire other quality actors to dip their toe into video game acting.

Storywise, the plot jumps around in time, back and forth, presenting the different stages of Jodie’s development and key incidents of her supernatural experiences. I’m not usually fan of non-linear story-telling, but in this case it actually worked to refresh the game-playing thinking process, as jumping back into a younger Jodie actually allowed you to approach with a considered choice that might impact the older Jodie. Indeed, the game often contains alternate choices, which enhances it’s re-playability.

In terms of the plot, there are some problems. Occasionally some chapters bordered on dis-believability and others were just way too long. I also had much regret in some of choices/actions I did, but was never sure if I actually had an alternative or could have resolved a chapter in a better way. Also, the quick-motion action occasionally seemed just unnecessary and other times not as intuitive as I think the game-makers intended.

I do feel a bit emotionally drained from the game. I will re-visit and play-thru some of the different choices and alternate endings in the near-future. In terms of the story that was told, it was interesting yet could have gone in many other directions, too. In some ways, it reminded my of the freaky-strange happenings scenarios in Fahrenheit. Nonetheless, I thought Heavy Rain was a bit more engaging, perhaps because due to its’ linearity, as well as requiring more thought and action from the player. Quite often in Beyond: Two Souls I felt like a passive passenger just riding along to the inevitable finale.

Score: I was initially NOT going to bother scoring this game, due to my stated bias. However, despite areas of the game I didn’t like and the convoluted plot, I still found myself enjoying the experience and loving the game. Quite simply, if you liked Heavy Rain, you know what to expect. 9 out of 10.

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