The Average Gamer

Beyond: Two Souls Review (PS3)

Beyond Two Souls Somalia

What is it?

Another attempt at emotional storytelling in games from David Cage, creator of Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy). Beyond: Two Souls follows Jodie (Ellen Page) and her invisible companion Aiden, jumping backwards and forwards through scenes from her life.

Is it fun?

Not really. It’s an interesting story told an interesting way but the actual playing can be rather tedious.

Is it worth the money?

I don’t think so. Others do. Do you like story-driven games that shove you in the direction you’re supposed to go but occasionally you get to make a big decision? This one’s for you.

Why not?

I’m hesistant to fault Beyond: Two Souls for the game’s mechanics being so underemphasised in comparison to the story. The Walking Dead from Telltale Games was similarly simple, but the choices you made were so entrenched in the story being told that it didn’t matter.

In Beyond, the emphasis is more on events than relationships, and as a result, I felt disconnected from everyone throughout. You can make the occasional choice but you’re mostly there for the ride and to occasionally help Jodie out during QTE battles or cover-based stealth sequences.

I don’t mind that part. The bits I could do without are the ones where you walk around slowly, trying to figure out which objects you’re supposed to prod in order to trigger the next cutscene. Or even worse, the parts where Jodie goes to bed and my job was to decide if she rolls to the left or the right first.

At one point I helped her drink a cup of coffee, because I didn’t want her to seem rude to her host. Nothing happened. She didn’t even comment on the taste of the coffee. This section could have added some nuance to her relationship with her host. It could have revealed her taste for morning beverages. Instead, it was just me watching not-Ellen Page cradling a cup. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I didn’t make her drink enough coffee.

You would think that these moments were there to contrast with the action sequences. Some clearly were and did a great job.

Beyond Two Souls Jodie Child CardsTrying to prepare Jodie for a date was superbly done but while the relationship after that particular scene was referenced, it was never really explored. Sometimes it feels like the time-jumping nature of the game was conceived just so that Cage could skip past all the tedious character-building and progression parts.

Poor character interactions aside, the story itself is a fine bit of supernatural theatre within a near-future sci-fi world. Thankfully, it’s not as left-field as the end of Fahrenheit. Each of the scenes is an important chunk of Jodie’s life and we get to see the massive advantages that come with having a handy spirit hanging around. However, there’s little benefit to them being out of order.

This is no Memento where your understanding of a sequence changes as you learn more of the story. Hell, Heavy Rain did that better, even if you hated the final outcome. It feels more like each scene was designed to show a standalone facet, no more, no less. Beyond’s is a lesser story because of this.

I wouldn’t call Beyond: Two Souls a terrible game but I’d be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone at full price. Stick it on your Christmas list and hope someone else buys it for you.

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