BEYOND: Two Souls Video Game Review

System: PS3, Rating: M, Length: 12 hrs approx.

More interactive story telling, than video game, BEYOND: Two Souls looks to grab a hold of the player and envelop them into a story, that they, in the end, decide how it should play out. Does it work? Unlike what most reviews are saying, yes, yes it does.

Short nitty-gritty plot description from the Official Website is as follows: Born with a connection to a mysterious entity with incredible powers,
Jodie was different. In an adventure spanning 15 years of her life,
your actions will determine Jodie’s fate as she faces extraordinary
challenges, danger, and heartwrenching loss on a journey to discover the
truth of who she is. Beyond: Two Souls™ promises an emotionally-charged
journey unlike any video game before.

Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: BEYOND: Two Souls bounces back and forth through the unique life of Jodie Holmes, a girl who is “blessed” with a special talent. When she was younger, she found out that she has a spiritual guide, by the name of Aiden, who is able to move objects and fly through walls. As her talent starts to get out in the open, Jodie is forced to move into a special research facility, where the government is going to monitor her unique ability and train her for their own special use. However, there is more to the story than meets the eye, as we find out there is more forces like Aiden, just beyond a rift, known as the Infraworld. The government knows about this and is trying to use this other world for their own means. Jodie wants nothing of it and only wishes for a normal life. Due to certain circumstances, we find Jodie on the run for her life, homeless and trying to figure everything out. Will Jodie be scooped up by the CIA again and used for nefarious means, or will she be able to just move on and live a normal life? It’s all up to you on how this plays out… somewhat (more on that in a bit).

Tatlock’s Opinion: Jodie’s story is told to us through several different points of her life. We see her childhood, her time at the research facility, her joining the CIA and later on, her fight to stay out of the hands of the CIA, as they pursue endlessly. It’s an interesting way to tell this multifaceted story and allows us to never get bored with certain points. No player would be interested in playing as a little girl for a couple hours, so instead, the game gives you bits and pieces, mixed with some action. It’s pretty good way to keep you invested, although there are times where you might be confused as to what point of her life you are playing. Funny enough, the easiest way to tell, is by her hairstyle (I’m not kidding, she literally goes through ever style of hair possible).

As I said above, this isn’t so much a video game, as it is a story that asks for your input every once and awhile. Yes, you can move Jodie with the left analog stick and there are small dots that appear on the screen, that when you move your right analog stick, will show Jodie interacting with whatever it was that interested her. The action bits will play out more like a quick time event, where you must move the right stick in whatever direction Jodie is trying to move. For example, if Jodie is about to punch forward, the game will slow down and allow you time to move the analog stick in the right direction. If you miss the timing, or press the wrong direction, Jodie will get hit/hurt, but the game will continue on; there are no game overs in this game.

As there are no Game Overs, it will play out a
little differently for pretty much everyone that picks up the
controller. There are times, where one player may get caught by the police
and another may get away, or you have a choice to take revenge on some
teens, or leave without dealing any harm (I chose revenge and had a
blast going Carrie on their tween asses). Most of these choices will
still result in the game playing out exactly the same in the end, which does take away from having the power to decide how the story will develop. Come
the actual end, you’ll be given several different choices, which are
factored in by what you chose to do throughout the game. From my
understanding, there are 11 different endings, with 23 different
variables effecting the endings and each one will end with a big time
hint, that this could potentially end up being a series.

The most video game like sequences, are when you are controlling Aiden. Whenever prompted by Jodie, the player can press the triangle button to control Aiden, who is able to move through walls, push objects and help Jodie out in several different ways, such as possessing people, or outright killing them. Most of these times that you are controlling Aiden, is when the game tells you to, or you have to. There really isn’t any times where you can just go around and explore and find stuff, Also, not everyone can be possessed, which seems rather odd when you think about it. Another thing, Aiden is tethered to Jodie, so you can only float away so far.

There is no multiplayer in BEYOND: Two Souls, but there is however, a two player local co-op mode of sorts. One person controls Jodie and the other person controls Aiden. However, as I said above, Aiden is really only needed when called upon and when the player is controlling Aiden, the other person can’t move. It’s a neat, but limited idea and I’ve heard from a few people, that it can be sorta fun. As for me though, I’m a loser and played by myself.

BEYOND: Two Souls looks amazing and sounds just as good. The graphics are phenomenal, with character models taking the prize. The main character of Jodie, played by Ellen Page, who does a fantastic job in the voice acting department, looks so much like her, it can be eerie at times. Same goes for Willem Dafoe, who also does a superb job. The music is wonderful, with lots of orchestral  moments, that hit the right cords. This may be the end of the PS3’s era, but man, does this game show you that there is a lot of potential left in that little black box.

No video game can be perfect though and BEYOND: Two Souls isn’t immune to a few issues. For one, the controls can be frustrating and tank-like at times. Your character may move slow, with several times Jodie not wanting to run, but instead half run/walk, which drove me up the wall. Also, I pray to god that Quantic Dream (the developers) doesn’t make a horse game, as the controls are horrendous when on that big steed. I can’t tell you how many times I drove that damn horse in to a wall. Most of these are small nit picky issues and I don’t think they’ll effect your enjoyment much.

Verdict: BEYOND: Two Souls isn’t going to be for everyone and the reviews certainly show that. It’s minimalistic in giving the player control, but what little control it gives you, it makes up for in a riveting and deep story, that kept me glued to the TV screen, for the 10 to 12 hours of gameplay it provided.

Rating: 4/5 (-1 for some control issues and limited Aiden involvement. +4 for giving me a story that had me feeling emotional, tense and providing me an opportunity to choose how I wanted Jodie’s life to end up.)

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