Review – Beyond: Two Souls

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Beyond: Two Sales. If you’re lucky.

Remember in 2010 when Heavy Rain came out? Heavy Rain was admired for its mystery driven plot and cinematic experience, but time and time again it received a lot of flak for its extremely subpar gameplay. Consisting mostly of unrefined quick time events (or QTEs), Heavy Rain was mocked by people with more than four brain cells as a “Playstation 3 exclusive movie”, showing that the game brought nothing to the table a movie or one of those “Choose Your won Adventure” Goosebump books could’ve done easily. Heavy Rain was produced by the french development company Quantic Dream, who just so happen to have worked on Beyond: Two Souls. Today they’re back once again to prove that they are the leading force behind cinematic video games. So, how’d they do this time around?

Honestly, PAINFULLY average to subpar. Beyond: Two Souls has many nice assets going for it, but sadly, it’s not the group of assets the game needs to stand out. Sure it has big name stars like Ellen Paige and Willem DaFoe starring in it, but you need more than just a name to make something good.  A good actor can make something worth experiencing or even carry the entire production single handedly, but I can’t gut a kid, throw its remnants in a plastic bag, and write Christian Bale all over it and expect it to break sales records.

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But if I could, I could be inclined to do so.

So you guys know that I believe that gameplay is the defining feature when it comes to video games; after all, isn’t a video game with no gameplay just a movie? However, for today’s review I”m willing to be lenient and focus less on the gameplay and more on other elements after I get my thoughts on that out of the way. Beyond: Two Souls is similar to Heavy Rain in the sense that you walk around to interact with objects and progress in action sequences through multiple choice questions and quick time events. While being painfully boring to play since it doesn’t require much effort on your part, it’s also very vulnerable to being called a reskinned Heavy Rain. Sure, some actions are less tedious in Beyond: Two Souls than in Heavy Rain, but when a company releases two unrelated games with the same core mechanics/engine without making much effort into making something different, you’re just asking to have your game shot down for being uninspired.

While falling (very) short in terms of gameplay, Beyond: Two Souls really stands out in the visual department. David Cage’s decision to utilize motion capture technology for the actors really pays off, as everything about the models and animations are very well done. It has a few problems here and there, but overall the production value on the visuals are top notch. Beyond: Two Souls shows just what you can do on a system dating back to 2006/2007 if you put the effort into it.

Even with the limitations on the Playstation 3 being pushed to the limit, great visuals can’t fix the biggest problem Beyond: Two Souls has…

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“I”ve got a bad feeling about this, Jodie.”

Beyond: Two Souls is touted as a revolutionary cinematic experience for video games with an emotional outlook on the world beyond and what happens after a person sheds their mortal coil. You follow Jodie Holmes (Ellen Paige) on a fifteen year journey to discover the identity of Aiden: a mysterious being that has been linked to Jodie since birth. Sounds solid, right? Well, let me tell you two things that this game does completely wrong: having a plot worth spending $60 to experience on and presenting said awful plot. I know i say gameplay is key in a video game, but if the story can at least make up for bad gameplay in some way or vice versa, then it might work out SOMETIMES.

Beyond: Two Souls doesn’t have a good sense of its own messy story, as it has an overarching feel of being rushed and half-assed. It also chooses the whole “play certain periods of time within Jodie’s lifespan” kind of storytelling where you jump around key moments in Jodie’s life to experience what she’s been through with Aiden and the people around her. This adds to the unnecessary “artsy story presentation” theme it has going for it, which in turn makes the game feel more like a clusterfuck of “Oh, it’s too deep for you. You wouldn’t understand it” nonsense. Add in characters that get introduced and thrown away in under an hour, uninspired black-and-white story choices, and Jodie’s dependency on a mysterious entity in the form of “AIDEN DO THIS, AIDEN DO THAT, I NEED YOU NOW AIDEN, DON’T EMBARASS ME AIDEN, MAKE ME SUPERMAN AIDEN, MAKE THIS GAME GOOD AIDEN,” and you’ve got the recipe for something I like to call a “Just Watch It On Youtube; You’re Not Missing Much” game. I”m glad I manage to borrow this from my Gamestop friend, as if either of us would have bought this, I’d seriously consider imprisoning one of us in a barbed dildo pit.

Beyond: Two Souls is a great example of a game that has a high production value, but still manages to be mediocre and forgettable. you might think I’m being picky, but apparently everything I’ve stated so far is actually the major consensus from most people who’ve played/reviewed it.; in fact, many sites like IGN and Destructoid have also licked their chops at the opportunity to shred this game into pieces. So if you’re into pretentiously artsy games along these lines, it might not be your favorite, and if you have brain cells like me, then you’ll hate this game. You’ll hate it, and you’ll hate it a lot. I mean, I liked parts of it, but pretty graphics can’t fix this mess, and after a playthrough, you’ll see what I”m talking about.

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Quantic Dream trying to show off their “revolutionary” game design.

Oh, and claiming to be the best at cinematic video games is like bragging about being the best at eating paste and shitting your pants. You might be the best, but you’re still eating paste. and shitting your pants.

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3 responses to “Review – Beyond: Two Souls

  1. I recently watched a Let’s Play of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy/Lucas Kane’s Bizarre Adventure and it’s astounding that anyone would let David Cage try and make another game after that. Besides that I’ll be looking forward to the Zero Punctuation review.

  2. Your mileage may vary, but for me, the game is transcendent.

    It transcends both video games and movies to become something greater than either medium would ever be by themselves. I’m an avid gamer (I have 400+ Steam games, 400+ iOS games, and 100+ console games). Yet–to speak for myself–*I* found this game far more moving, thought-provoking, meaningful, and entertaining than many other games (including Super Mario Galaxy 1-2, Grand Theft Auto 4-5, The Last of Us, and others).

    I can only compare it to Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead, or the Metal Gear Solid series: deep rich stories that have themes and messages that convey something of lasting meaning; something beyond the mindless (but fun) shooting and platforming of other titles.

    I will remember this game for years to come. There are few works of fiction of any medium for which I can say the same.

    If you like a rich deep story line and don’t care about a lack of “agency” (it’s always illusory in video games, anyway–there are always incredibly restrictive rules on game play), then this is *the* game of the seventh generation. The comparably minor errors in execution and direction can be ignored, when viewed in light of the whole.

    Indeed, the question of whether this qualifies as a game is, like Dear Ester, a largely irrelevant and pedantic: It entertains. It provokes thought. It is emotionally moving. And it illustrates that games–like cinema or literature–can be taken seriously as a medium to both entertain and enlighten.

    If judged solely as a film, or only as a game, I can understand the bad scores, but when you combine them, I think the effect is unparalleled and something we need to see more of. It seems to me that most reviewers of this game have profoundly and tragically missed the point.

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