Beyond: Two Souls review
Beyond: Two Souls is an interactive story in the same form of a previous Quantic Dream title, Heavy Rain. The game has a heavy emphasis on telling an engaging story with a minimum amount of player input.
Beyond: Two Souls tells the story of Jodie Holmes a girl that’s connected to a spirit entity called, Aiden. Since Jodie has this gift she is taken from her parents to live and work with the Department of Paranormal Activities (DPA). Here in the DPA Jodie works closely with two scientists called Nathan Dawkins and Cole Freeman. Because of her powers Jodie is closely watched by more than just the DPA, but the entire government has an eye on Jodie as they attempt to use Jodie’s power to visit the world Aiden comes from, The Infraworld.
Jodie’s story is told isn’t told in a straight line as the game jumps to various points in Jodie’s life. This jumping gives us a better understanding of the character and helps us understand why she is the distant, cold and scared character we see at the start of the game.
Beyond: Two Souls’ story is truly touching and emotionally draining as you see the world through Jodie’s eyes. You see the world isn’t all glamorous and cheerful, you see that is has a dark and sobering side. The game touches on a good number of themes that will lead you to pausing the game and simply think about what you just saw or did. I think it is safe to say what you see in the game might resonate with the player. I know I felt it with moments in the game causing me to tear up. I’m sorry if I am being vague, but I’m trying not to spoil the story. A story which can only be described as an emotional roller-coaster, as the journey takes you from joy to sadness to anger.
While being an incredibly emotional game, the game does a great job of making you think about life, death and where we go when we die. While the game doesn’t give you answers, it poses its own ideas on the subject. The idea the game brings to the table is rather interesting one. It is grounded in the idea that an afterlife exists and that the afterlife could be bent to suit the needs of those who live. The most impressive part of the game is Aiden; he is a character that is tough to figure out. We know he a supernatural entity, but what does that mean? Is he a ghost from the otherside or is he something else. I had many theories about Aiden while playing the game, but it took me until near the end to finally realize what Aiden is.
When you reach the end you are left with a choice. A choice which at the start of the game would have been easy is, now incredibly difficult because of everything you experienced. The choice you make leads to another choice, and I have to say once again the choice I made would make any cold hearted person cry. Player choice isn’t only available at the end of the game. There is choice throughout the game, but I felt the choices I took didn’t affect the story except for the final two choices.
What is a great story without great cast of characters? The characters in Beyond: Two Souls do a brilliant job of selling the world and story. At first I thought the characters would be weak since the story jumps back and forwards to different points in Jodie’s life, but this jumping doesn’t affect them. The jumping makes you understand and empathise with the characters. Jodie Holmes (Ellen Page) is by far the standout character for me as you grow to understand her and why she is seems bland, alone and distant. Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe), DPA scientist is another highlight. You really see him caring for Jodie, but deep down you feel uneasy around him.
There is also Ryan Clayton who plays a CIA member who I had a love hate relationship with as there were times I times I wanted to hug him and other times where I wanted to see Aiden kill him. Lastly there is Cole Freeman a DPA scientist. Cole is my favourite character next to Jodie, he is really lovable and despite what he has to do he truly cares for Jodie with him called her, princess. Aiden does deserve a mention as despite not having a voice or body you can see his emotions clearly in the way he interacts with Jodie. There are numerous smaller characters in the game which I won’t name for spoiler reasons, but there is a group you meet who are the most heart warming lovable group of characters in the game.
Speaking about the characters, the voice acting was amazing in the game. Both Ellen Page (Inception and Hardcandy) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man and The Boondock Saints) did brilliant job bringing the emotions of both Jodie and Nathan to life as people who have struggled through life. Kadeem Hardison (A Different World) also does a fantastic job of playing the lovable DPA scientist, Cole Freeman.
When it comes to gameplay there isn’t much to say since the game is an interactive story. Gameplay is limited to pushing, tapping and holding buttons when the game tells you too. The best part of the game, gameplay wise is when you control Aiden, because with Aiden you have various powers – these include: hitting objects so that Jodie can enter an area, mind reading, controlling and killing enemies and creating a shield for Jodie. While you have all these amazing powers they can only be used when the game tells you to use it. Now while this is an interactive game there is combat in the game, I mean if you can call it combat. Combat is basically a round of quick time events with you moving the analog stick in the right direction, however there is a catch, the prompt to know which way to move is done by looking at the way Jodie is moving. If you fail to guess the right direction Jodie gets hit and you continue fighting until you succeed.
I do have to point out there is at least one gameplay issue and that is to do with the controls. There are times in the game where you have to press and hold up to four buttons at once and honestly I felt that holding so many buttons at once was more of an inconvenience and a hindrance to my enjoyment, as it was an unneeded addition to the game. Thankfully there are not many of these sequences.
As I stated earlier the story is an emotional roller-coaster, the music and immersion helps sell it. For example when there are scenes of sadness a slow melody is played to help draw you in.
With regards to issues there are only one or two. The most obvious issue I saw was some texture pop-in which pulled me away from some experiences. Another issue, which is likely a personal one and that, is the look of some characters. When looking at some of the children the faces seemed to be on the wrong side of the uncanny valley, but when you looked at some of the older characters, the faces were much better and didn’t seem to break my immersion like with the children.
For those who like behind the scenes videos. The game does offer this, so once you finish the game you can take a look at how they made the game.
Beyond: Two Souls is an incredibly moving and thought provoking game. It has a story that pulls on your strings, but it also poses thought provoking questions which includes what happens to you when you die.
Beyond: Two Souls Information
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Interactive story
Rating: PEGI 16+
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release date: October 8th (North America), October 11th (Europe)
*The below video contains possible spoilers*
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.