**********************This review may contain spoilers for the reader*************************
I have played Beyond: Two Souls twice over since its release and I am defiantly a huge fan of the game. It doesn't overpower in action, horror, drama, comedy but instead blends all of that perfectly into a psychological thriller.
STORY: Beyond: Two Souls story is centered on Jodie (the protagonist) and this mysterious “entity” that she has a connection with. From beginning a new game it starts with Jodie explaining that she is filled with memories that seem to be scrambled up. This makes for the story to jump back and forth rather than a fluid start to finish motion. Some players may not like this inconsistent “leap-frogging” with the story but I believe it fits into unraveling the story (of her broken memories) very well, and the creators made great use of still adding the introduction, the introduction of the conflict, the rising action, the falling action, and then the end of the game.
This game can be closely related to a movie in many ways, and I would consider it both game and a movie (game that is played as a movie) in my personal opinion but many players will have particular views on categorizing Beyond: Two Souls. I don’t think there is particularly a wrong answer on which one it is, however I believe there is a particular type of gamer who will enjoy this style of game. A gamer who is mainly focused on the story of the game and doesn’t need a full control of the player is this games main customer. By this I only mean players that need an action packed game, or find that they can’t do what they want, when they want may not take a liking to this game due to its occasional low points (i.e. no action, just building story). Simply put anybody who has played Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain (or prior games) and fully enjoyed it, I would strongly recommend this game for you.
This game does have multiple endings, although there is still a linear path the creators made for the players to hit certain points for narration purposes. So yes you can end the game in the certain way of your choosing, the path there isn’t (for the most part) too flexible, but it is still an enjoyable experiance any way you play it.
Interestingly enough Beyond: Two Souls seems to hint to a follow-on project. This is done throughout the game foreshadowing to future events that haven’t happened yet, as well as statements made about organizations (in the game) that will continue to repeat these actions over and over again. Whether this is a future DLC or a future Beyond: [next title] is unknown at this point (as far as searching the internet for Quantic Dreams’ statements on the subject). As Quantic Dream is working on their next title called Kara (among other things in the works I’m sure) they will eventually release some news on follow-up ventures in the Beyond world.
My only complaint for the story is that it is fairly short. I believe in all I completed the game in roughly 10 - 12 hours and this included looking for all the secrets you can can pick up playing as Jodies "entity" to unlock bonus features.
GAME MECHANICS: As I’m sure many fans that have played Heavy Rain will find the controls in Beyond: Two Souls extremely familiar. The basic controls throughout the game are exactly that of that of Heavy Rain with a few tweaks built in, so many of the basic commands to interact with the world by pushing the right stick, tapping buttons in certain situations, and holding down buttons for certain situations all make for familiar controls. There have been a few improvements along the way that Quantic Dream has added to make the game play more fluid or cinematic in a sense. They do this by using a “slow-mo” caption while the action is taking place and leave the player controlling Jodie take the appropriate action needed, which leaves the screen clear of any button commands throughout the action. This is done rather well with the fact that early on in the game the player goes through a tutorial of control actions before the game fully opens to more complicated situations where the speed of the action is increased slightly. Overall I really like the controls of this game and they are extremely simple due to only half of the control is being used most of the time (meaning your usually only pushing buttons or controlling the sticks, but not both in most cases), and once you know commands for certain actions they stay consistent through the game.
However the only two minor dislikes I do have for the controls are that in certain ‘combat actions’ it can be tough to know which direction Jodie is intending to go and react in time, leaving the player pushing the wrong action in its place or missing the timing. As well as the fact that the controller is based off of Jodie’s position (where she’s stand in relation to the object) doesn’t always seem to move 100% in the direction that the player would assume it would. An example is you have a white dot (an action icon) to Jodie’s right but the player pushes right and interacts with an object they weren’t intending to. With that said, again these are MINOR control difficulties that I only noticed a few times throughout the game, and even getting button commands wrong doesn’t kill you or change the story much, and a few missed commands will only result is a couple more baddass cuts and bruises on Jodie’s face.
GRAPHICS: Beyond: Two Souls is beautifully rendered and there are only a few titles I can think of that have the same visual beauty in comparison (that being the former Heavy Rain, as well as the outstanding The Last of Us game, among a few other titles like Metro: LL, Bioshock Inf., etc.). There really isn’t much to say other than that, Beyond: Two Souls is as beautifully rendered as the PS3 can handle and the only way you can get more graphic awesomeness is playing this title on a PC or a next-gen console (which I do not know if either is confirmed to happen). In a related note, due to how outstanding the graphics are, I believe this to be the cause of the game ‘hiccupping’ occasionally (more so during action scenes when a lot is going on). As well as having scenes load and the graphics aren’t fully rendered right away, so objects look somewhat dull. Again this happens very seldom and the game renders extremely fast for how much detail is going on the screen so hiccups and dull rendering issues happen for only a second or two of time before the game catches back up. I just believe this game is pushing the limits the PS3 is capable of in certain areas, which is actually a good thing in some ways.
MUSIC/SOUND: Beyond: Two Souls has a top notch musical score that is incredibly rendered. When Jodie is feeling sad, the music accompanies that feeling perfectly; when the scene is trying to scare the player it definatly does a great job in building that suspense, along with that shock that follows; If Jodie’s angry the music picks up with a heavier beat for players to jam out to as the unleash havoc with Jodie and her “entity.” The sound is equally as good, and being that an all star cast did the voice acting of this game puts the perfect polish to an already great game. This, in my opinion is the only thing that makes this game better than that of Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain. I must add Heavy Rain was no slouch when it came to their music, sound, or voice acting either but I personally believe Quantic Dream has fine tuned their abilities better since then and a known cast of actors/actresses add just a dash more familiarity to the cast of the game to polish off a bit better.
MULTIPLAYER/CO-OP: This game apparently can be played with another person playing as Jodie’s’ “entity” as the former player is playing as Jodie herself. I have yet to play this game with a friend so I am unsure if it’s an online process or split screen type of co-op. However, I believe this is a good addition for this particular game. Anybody who has tried this please let me know what you think of this feature.
I would personally recommend this game as a must play, however I am aware that there are many players who feel restricted to the style, or lack of constant action that Quantic Dream does for their games. So I will safely say if you’re a fan of any of Quantic Dream’s older work you must play this, if this game intrigues you then at least rent or borrow it from a friend, and if you are not a fan of their prior work then this genre of game unfortunately is not for your style.
I rate this game as 9 out of 10. The only real downfall I see with this game is that it seems quite short. I would still rather have a game that is short and sweet rather than a game that drags on too long with a generic story. However I do feel that they could have added at least a few more hours worth in there. Maybe, I just like the story enough that I don’t want it to end. Regardless, in combination with a short story and a few occasional hiccups I think a 9 is a respectable rating for a outstanding cinematic gaming experience.