Taking a creative risk in gaming is tough, as it could seriously back fire, causing low sales figures and a lukewarm reception. However, Quantic Dream’s studio head David Cage is known for his confident decision making, and despite the controversy Beyond Two Souls has raised, I’m happy to say that at the end of my journey I found myself satisfied with its conclusion.
In comparison to Heavy Rain, Quantic Dreams’ latest entry into emotional and engaging story telling marks their most ambitious project to date. Melding Hollywood talent such as Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page, you’re led loosely throughout a large story arc that spans the life of a girl whose been taken away from her parents and placed within a special testing facility. This is because she has an abnormal ability. You’re then taken through the key points in her life, whether that is the inception of this paranormal entity, or a poignant turn of events that lead to a drastic change in the course of the story.
Once I booted up I expected similar controls to Heavy Rain, with a detailed array of button presses and analogue movements, in order to do up the buttons on my jacket. However, once I got a feel for the controls, I was surprised to find that I had even less control with my character and surroundings than I did before. Whereas in ‘Heavy Rain’ where I had the ability to interact with objects and scenery in a more detailed way, in ‘Beyond’ all I had to do was flick my right analogue stick to the allocated white dot, which would begin a pre-constructed cut scene. Instead of playing a game, I felt as though I was merely playing a point and click adventure, and even in that respect I felt there was much less connectivity between my controller and character.
Given my dismay, I did manage to have some fun as her supernatural sidekick, Aiden. Once you assume control of Aiden, it’s basically as though you’ve been given free-reign over the in-game camera; as you move freely between different areas, as well as through people and scenery. It was a pretty neat feeling, despite the fact that if I went too far away from Jodie in a certain scene, I’d have to retreat in fear of losing connection. As I floated through the air and glided around rooms, I felt as though I was being the director in a movie, choosing certain angles whilst a conversation was taking place, or zooming in close for an action shot as I caused havoc with my telemetric powers.
I certainly understand why a lot of people have been harsh upon its arrival. Most video games, sadly, don’t take players on such an intense cinematic journey. I’d suggest that you experience the game for yourself, regardless of my view or anybody else’s. Many times throughout the story I found myself completely engaged, experiencing a mixture of emotions depending on the scene I was playing. Other times, I found certain parts of the journey a bit out of place. One minute I’d be running away from the police, and the next I’d be making myself comfortable on a ranch in the dessert, enjoying the company of some local Indians. It’s fair to say that the story is varied, taking many different paths dependent on the choices you make.
Once I’d finally given myself time to experience ‘Beyond’ with fresh eyes, I was fairly surprised to see how different the game was since its initial reveal. Being taken in and trained as a CIA operative definitely wasn’t something I was expecting, and I also couldn’t help but wonder how many other roads it could’ve taken. My favourite parts mainly consisted of the solid performances from the games’ two lead actors. Ellen Page definitely shines as troubled youngster Jodie, whilst Willem Dafoe managed to portray her kind, loving guardian, whose past begins to turn him into something entirely different. Of course, with there being many different routes and actions to take, there are plenty of twists and turns waiting in the wings. As expected, this game showcases yet another powerhouse in terms of hardware performance and highly detailed character models. It’s simply amazing to see games such as this finally getting to grips with the tech.
- + Great performances from Ellen and Willem
- + A varied collection of moments in Jodie's life
- + Many emotionally engaging scenes
- - Controls can be awkward
- - Story line gets messy at the end