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Beyond: Two Souls Review – A Masterpiece

By VJPlatinum | 08 October 2013 | Playstation 3, Reviews | , , , | 6 Comments   

Game Reviewed: Beyond: Two Soulsbeyond cover

Release Date: October 8, 2013

Developer: Quantic Dream

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Platform: [Reviewed: PlayStation 3]

Genre: Interactive Drama Action-Adventure

Rated: M for Mature

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Welcome to the deep and dark story of Jodie Holmes, a woman that’s been protected and somewhat tormented by an entity that possesses her very wellbeing. This is a very intense story that only a developer that goes by the name Quantic Dream can deliver and perfectly execute.

Beyond: Two Souls is a title that not only goes in-depth with each individual character, but pulls in academy award winners to play the main characters. Jodie, played by Ellen Page, ventures though her memories of a child, years in the service and times with her doctor and friend, Nathan Dawkins, played by William Dafoe.  A 27 million dollar investment well invested!

beyond youngInvading the very existence of Jodie is Aiden. Aiden can manipulate objects, possess other bodies and most importantly help aide Jodie when in need. Aiden role is throughout the game a very exciting and intense player. To make his character even more genuine, Aiden’s role can be played with a 2nd controller or by downloading the “Beyond Touch” app.

It’s the minor here’s and there’s about Beyond that draws you in, regardless of which way the story is taking you. In one part of Jodie’s teenage years, I stopped for a second to notice a real life football game taking place on the television. Maybe it was a “guy” thing that made me notice that, but it’s just one of the many small things that stood out, making you feel like the experience is more than “just a game.”

 

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Gameplay is very similar to Heavy Rain, more than I initially thought, but you don’t get that complex interaction. In fact the most awkward concept of Beyond: Two Souls is not dying. Instead, the show must go on.

Controls for Beyond: Two Souls as simplistic as they are, would be my one true complaint as well.  You feel limited while playing as Jodie as all the controls for her character are performed by using only the left and right thumbstick. At the same time, some of the cinematic camera angles are a bit confusing as well, affecting the use of the right thumbstick.

Aiden however feels that much better to numb the thought process of Jodie’s inconsistent control scheme. Motions and beyond 7manipulating is evenly as easy to master, but more interactions with Aiden are quite intriguing.

When using the Beyond Touch app, you can drag your finger across the screen to move Jodie, hold the camera to look around and tap the white circle to interact with the mini-cut scenes that partake. The QTE portions of gameplay, such as fighting or interacting involves you holding down fingers on the screen or following the direction of action sequences by sliding in the same direction. As Aiden, tap and swipe to blast or hold the center of the screen to possess/levitate.

Ellen Page and William Dafoe characters are a masterpiece and the pinnacle of Beyond’s driven story. Ellen receives more recognition however as her character moves in a non-linear direction, making her voiceover from a child up to her current years as an on the run CIA agent. It’s all very fluid and from a gamer’s perspective well invested decision to string in action.

 

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Beyond is a beautiful game to look at. Character models have always been one of Quantic Dream strong points, and it didn’t stop here. Using the likeness of Dafoe and Paige was monumental. It’s captivating to see both personas used through different eras in time.

This is another one of those games that shows its next-gen readiness way before systems launch. Quantic Dream’s games will look absolutely phenomenal with next-gen graphics as their quality speaks for themselves.  And while Beyond has a few quirky changes in controls, the story is superior and very well worth partaking in the experience.

Gameplay: 4.5/5

Visuals: 4.75/5

Controls: 4/5

Audio:  4.5/5

Replayability: 4.25/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
Beyond: Two Souls Review - A Masterpiece, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

6 Comments

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  5. Posted by joseph blower on 12 October 13 at 7:17pm

    I’ve tentatively come to the conclusion that most people who dislike Beyond do so because they cannot (or will not) accept the game on its own terms: They have certain expectations of video games, and deviation from well-established norms vexes them. So, for instance, they demand interactivity, even when accepting passivity allows a far more compelling and moving narrative.

    In contrast, other people are, perhaps, more flexible (at least with regards to their expectations of the medium). For instance, the “passivity” of playing Beyond did not bother me in the slightest (except, at times, the second play-through; but I passed it the first time a day ago). I knew what I was getting into.

    I believe that many reviewers, given their larger than average exposure to the medium are even less tolerant of certain deviations from game play norms. This, I think, explains the large divergence of opinions on metacritic, and the (to me) inconceivably low average the game currently has (a mere 73!).

    Like the criticism that the game strips the player of freedom/agency, I do not think the others have merit:

    I consider the script to be impeccable. I have noticed no plot holes, and very few problems with the dialogue. It is telling that David Cage took a year of 12-14-hour days to write it and that it is 2000 pages in length.

    I consider Page’s acting to be truly and deeply awe-inspiring. I cannot praise her highly enough. She memorized 30-40 pages of dialogue each day. She had very little time to prepare and rehearse. She often had to juggle different emotional responses to the situations (e.g., playing the part one way in a scene and playing it another way in the same scene). Yet, despite these challenges, her acting is consistently of the highest professional quality. I have noticed no flaws in her performance; it is (along with William Dafoe’s performance) very much in keeping with her Academy Award for Best Actress. I consider her to be the most talented actress I’ve seen.

    I also think that the myriad ad hominem attacks against David Cage are entirely unwarranted. He does not try to impose his views on others. Rather, he is merely passionate, has a vision he believes in, and is outspoken in his beliefs. He believes that gaming can, like cinema or literature, change the world (or try to). This is not arrogant; it is noble.

    Moreover, the game has other strengths that seem to be overlooked by many:

    - The social commentary is entirely warranted, and appropriately biting.
    - The graphical quality of the game is the best of any on a console.
    - The story is incredibly moving and thought-provoking. The narrative was very easy for me to follow, despite the non-chronological presentation.
    - There is a wide range of different locales and gameplay dynamics employed. Variety is the spice of life.

    To put it succinctly (and a little melodramatically):

    For me, the game is both a reminder and illustration of the many challenges and the triumphs, the sadnesses and joys that life has to offer. For me, it’s life affirming, and I consider it deep, rich and meaningful. There are almost no other games (and few movies and books, for that matter) for which I can say the same.

    Take a chance; play this game.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +3 (from 5 votes)
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