Beyond: Two souls is a game that is truly a one of a kind experience, gamers may compare the game with QuanitcDreams previous title Heavy Rain due to the similar gameplay mechanics and premise however the overall goal of this game is completely different. Heavy Rain let the gamer develop the story themselves, unravel the plot bit by bit in their own unique way and eventually determine who lives and who dies. Beyond tells the story of Jodie (played by Ellen Page) as she goes through her life alongside a mysterious entity known as Aiden. The game jumps between different periods in her life, starting in the ‘present’ day where jodie is on the run for unknown reasons from the authorities and then jumping to when she is a child, trying to get to grips with Aiden with the aid of Doctor Nathan Dawkins (Willem Defoe). The story within the game is without a doubt the best aspect of the game and intentionally so, David Cage has written a beautifully crafted narrative that is portrayed excellently through the acting of Ellen Page, Willem Defoe and the rest of the cast. However through the excellent story the gameplay falls somewhat short which I was somewhat expecting within the game; Whilst controlling Aiden you can freely move about and interact with objects in order to develop the narrative, like most FPS games you use the analogue sticks to move Aiden about, whilst using the L1 or R1 buttons to interact with object. Controlling Aiden is fun specifically when possessing others and controlling them for brief periods of time ,and what you do (or not do) whilst controlling him can determine the outcome of that level in the game. The downfalls of gameplay mostly come whilst controlling Jodie, when moving about with her the game can feel clunky and slow specifically towards the more face paced sections of the game where her slow movements take away from the atmosphere of the game.
As I previously said the acting in this game is spectacular, which is expected from the big hollywood stars however it seems like the actors really connected with the roles they played and with the game. Whilst exploring the surroundings with Aiden, you can find small clouds of blue particles and if you focus on them using the L1 button you unlock bonus content such as BTS videos which show how naturally the actors adapted to the motion capture performance and passionate they are about this medium of entertainment unlike any other. This is perhaps the games strongest aspect, the writing and portrayal of each character in the game is amazing, even smaller characters that are perhaps only within one level of the game you become instantly attached too and feel like you’ve been playing along side them the whole game. This is most apparent when Jodie finds shelter with a group of homeless people, the instantly get a connection with them all through just a short time and the interactions between themselves and with Jodie.
The settings within Beyond varies a surprising amount, my favourite section of the game takes place when Jodie is walking along a desert road, looking for a ride or a place to rest for the night. She then comes across a ranch inhabited by a father, his two sons and mother who then offer Jodie work on the ranch in exchange for shelter. This level of the game has its own story arc within the overall story, and this kind of narrative development is apparent throughout the game. Several sections of the game have sub plots within them to unfold and develop. Although because the plot is driven so quickly through the stages some of these sub plots to feel slightly rushed in places, but this does not take you away from the atmosphere within the game.
I find it hard to review a game like this, I want to describe the game without spoiling the plot or development of characters you will see for yourself. I know that not everyone will enjoy the game as I did which has been seen in the range of reviews given, but if you are a fan of Heavy Rain or big story driven games then i’m sure you will love this game as much as I did. The downfalls of the game lie with the gameplay mechanics within some sections of the game. Or unnecessary sections of gameplay which seem to have just been put there in order to add some sort of gaming aspect to this section of the game such as tossing and turning whilst Jodie is trying to sleep by using the Analogue sticks and then pressing X to finally put her to sleep. However the story and acting are the main reason most will play this game and I am glad I have done so, i’m sure I will not play a game like this in a very long time, or at least until David Cage decides to delve into the next generation of consoles.