One of the most interesting announcements of last year’s E3 was a trailer for “Beyond: Two Souls.” “Beyond” is the follow-up game from Quantic Dream, the studio that made one of my favorite games of this generation, “Heavy Rain.” The gameplay if very similar to “Heavy Rain,” but the story is very different.
At E3, it was announced that the game was starring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, and the game was going to revolve around 15 years of this girl’s life. The Quantic Dream games aren’t really like any other games; they are closer to being movies, with a series of QuickTime events and button presses to complete all the actions. If you miss a button press or totally mess up a scene, the game continues but the story changes based on how well you do and what choices you make. Just because you don’t control every bit of what goes on doesn’t mean there is no action.
“Beyond” is a third-person action game in which players take control of Jodie Holmes and her other worldly companion “Aiden” through 15 years their lives. The story plays out in all sorts of different scenes and some of the more important moments of Jodie’s life as you guide her actions with button prompts and dialogue options.
As the game progresses, you see all sorts of emotionally charged scenes that take place around the globe. Just like “Heavy Rain,” the graphics, character animations, and voice actors are amazing; “Beyond” looks even better than I could have ever thought, and the acting is superb. The story is told out of order, which sometimes makes things feel disjointed or not as impactful; however, the story is very interesting. I have a feeling that the scenes would carry more weight if they where in order ,but the scenes are emotional nonetheless. The player gets to see her life in many stages, such as when she is a little girl and she first understands she has powers, through her teenage years, and as an adult, where she has her powers mastered and is now a CIA operative.
As a CIA agent, there are many fighting and action scenes, but they feel out of place in the story and aren’t the most powerful moments in the game. Sometimes there are scenes where you get to play as the entity Aiden, and as Aiden, you can pass through walls, throw objects, and even possess or kill enemies. Jodie can also use his powers to look into the past of people she comes in contact with. One of the weird things about this is he can only possess certain people; I guess they are more susceptible to the paranormal than others. These segments are some of the most interesting in the game.
Overall, this game is pretty incredible. The graphics and facial animations are some of the best ever on screen, the voice acting is top notch, and the story is very gripping. The only real downfall I see is that it jumps around and makes some things confusing. “Beyond” has many action scenes, but its real strength is the character development, dialogue, and the powerful choices you have to make. There about 20 or so endings, so completionists will spend a lot of time with this game, choosing different paths, adding a lot of replay value.
It’s not the perfect game by any means; the story is very compelling and the controls don’t get in the way. It doesn’t play like a traditional game. “Beyond” is more of a passive experience – sometimes you don’t know if you are playing a game or watching a movie. If you liked “Heavy Rain” or the other Quantic games, this game is a must-buy, but if you are looking for an action-packed guns blazing kind of game, you probably won’t like this game. “Beyond’s” graphics, controls, and animations make the game more like a movie than a game, but it is very enjoyable.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]