Video Game Review
‘Beyond: Two Souls’ feels like interactive movie
by Wes Mayer
“Beyond: Two Souls” is a fantastic story.
But it is hard to call it a game.
Instead, Quantic Dream’s “Beyond: Two Souls” feels much more like an interactive movie. Gameplay is pushed into the background as you watch the story — the fragmented and jumbled life of the main character, Jodie — puzzle itself together. The storyline jumps around sporadically with flashbacks and flashforwards, challenging you with conflict and emotions. Unfortunately, however you play the game and whatever choices you make seem irrelevant to an already established story, and until the ending, you get the feeling you are just along for the ride.
The story follows the adventurous life of Jodie and Aiden, an omnipresent and powerful entity linked to her. The story is a mystery throughout the entire game, beginning at one point and jumping around throughout Jodie’s past to explain how she gets to the present.
You explore many different stages of Jodie’s life, from a little girl tormented by monsters and struggling with Aiden to an adult human weapon trained to kill by the CIA. Each chapter visits an important event of Jodie’s life, and each one has a different pace. One chapter will have you intensely battling evil entities as Aiden, and the next will have you panicking and preparing for a dinner date.
The gameplay is where “Beyond: Two Souls” chokes, though. Be warned, this game is only about 33 percent action, and that’s being generous. For most of the game, your actions — flicking the analog sticks to pick up things or hitting buttons as they pop up on screen — feel like they are only there to remind you that you are holding a controller. For at least half of the game, you are watching cut scenes.
When the game does pick up the pace, it does a great job. Controlling Aiden allows you to choke and possess enemies strategically, and controlling Jodie gives you a stealthy, hand-to-hand combat experience. But the action is short-lived, and you never feel like you are in any danger of losing the game. It was never challenging enough for me to find out if I could actually die and see a “game over” screen.
Bottom line, you would want to check out “Beyond: Two Souls” if you are looking for an experience, not entertainment. It is an intriguing and interesting story, but it’s hard to actually call it a video game.
Of course, the game may feel more like watching a movie because of the incredible main characters modeled and voiced by Ellen Page, Willem Dafoe and Eric Winter. The game’s characters look and sound exactly like their real-world counterparts. This is truly the most impressive part of “Beyond: Two Souls,” and it should be recognized for its acting.
Story: Unravel the life of Jodie and Aiden, an evocative tale filled with mystery, terror, violence, romance, betrayal and everything else a best-selling novel would include. The story is broken into multiple chunks, and randomly jumps around between chapters. Unfortunately, choices you make do not noticeably alter the overall story (there is no “butterfly effect”).
Gameplay: Control both Jodie and Aiden with different experiences. As Jodie, the game involves exploring the areas and flicking the right analog stick to investigate items and combat enemies. The game is filled with quicktime events. As Aiden, float around and cause chaos, scare people and kill and possess enemies. Or be a friendly, pacifist entity. It’s your choice.
Lasting Appeal: Just like any movie, replaying this game depends on how well you enjoy the story. Chapters can be replayed in any order if you want to just visit the ones that involve action or you thought enjoyable. There are some hidden bonus items throughout the levels that involve some exploring as Aiden.
What You Need to Play This Game: A little bit of patience. This is not the action-packed game the trailers and previews made it out to be. Some chapters, although meaningful to the story, are downright boring to play. There are also a few horror and violence scenes that sneak up on you in the game, so be prepared for that.
“Beyond: Two Souls” is rated Mature
Reviewed on PS3