|Beyond: Two Souls|
|Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-2
Beyond: Two Souls comes to us from Quantic Dream, the studio responsible for the similarly genre –blurring psychological thrillers Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. So is this really a game, or an interactive animated movie?
Born with the ability to see things that no human has seen before, Jodie Holmes is a troubled child with a troubling history. The game’s story covers 15 years of Jodie's life and is an extremely compelling tale of a child who can channel the dead and interact with a spirit named Aiden. At certain times in the game the player takes control of Aiden who, being a ghost, can pass through walls and allow Jodie to see things remotely, even briefly taking control of other people to perform certain actions. This gameplay mechanic obviously opens up all kinds of possibilities and although the levels are extremely linear, the designers do give you some opportunity to explore the immediate area. If you have a second joypad, a second player can take control of Aiden, but the game feels like it should be a solo experience, and should in no way be considered as a co-op game for prospective buyers.
From cute and curious child, through confused and experimental teenager to highly-trained CIA killing machine through to vulnerable, depressed fugitive, Jodie's life is seldom boring and some of the typically mundane actions that Quantic Dream have you performing, while pointless and time wasting actually add a great deal of gravitas and contrast to the game’s events, some of which will actually affect the way the story branches and events turn out.
Much publicised already, the characters are stunning to look at, meticulously motion captured, superbly acted and well lip-synced. Only L.A. Noire’s cast has better facial animation and I've yet to see better forthcoming on the next gen consoles. Jodie isn’t just a character model that looks a bit like Ellen Page, she is Ellen Page. The other characters are pretty damned good too, although I thought Willem Dafoe looked a bit distorted and bloaty-headed at times.
It’s also worth considering that Beyond: Two Souls is a bit grim and joyless, what little humour there is in the story is always a bit strained and Ellen Page’s innate humour, smart-assed sarcasm and cynicism toward everybody and everything on the planet rarely comes through. Thankfully, the game does allow for at least a couple of happy endings.
The only real problem I'd have when recommending the game is its lack of actual interaction and genuine gameplay, and because of the nonlinear storyline (the way the game flits around with the chronological order of events like a Tarantino movie) sometimes the passage of time doesn't come across particularly well, and the friendships that Jodie forms seem unfeasibly close when you've only spent a few minutes in real time in the company of people who Jodie is supposed to form strong bonds and even feelings of love with. Some sequences seem light-hearted, pointless and even silly and others are heart–wrenchingly emotional. It's also highly questionable just how much effect your actions really do have on the storyline until right at the end.
- A compelling, emotional supernatural story.
- Superb production values.
- Endearing characters and good baddies.
- Unique gameplay.
- No PlayStation Move compatibility seems an odd omission.
- It’s a bit slow and action-lite.
- The inability to skip scenes is irritating.