Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Beyond: Two Souls Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3
Aaron Sampson on Google+

A tale of ghostly intrigue.

There are spirits all around us. Are they ghosts or demons? Malevolent or nice? What matters is not their nature, but rather how we react to their presence. In Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie's life is colored by an invisible force who never strays from her side, and we follow her down a volatile path in which her identity is constantly in flux. Those around her grapple with the existence of these entities, trying to use them to fulfill their own selfish needs with little regard for the ramifications of their actions. Jodie is the one link between the human race and the mysterious apparitions. And through the struggles that she undergoes, you examine the fragility of human nature and develop a strong bond with the beleaguered protagonists.

Aiden has been a part of Jodie's life as long as she can remember. An invisible entity, he hovers nearby, connected to Jodie although with aspirations all his own. You view the world through the eyes of both characters, switching between them with the push of a button. As Jodie, you move like a human does, inspecting items, walking through rooms, and talking to people. Your actions are restricted, giving you only a modicum of different objects and people to interact with as you're continually ushered down the story's path. Aiden has more freedom in how he traverses the world. Not bound by ordinary rules, he flies unhindered through the air, gliding through walls, flinging objects in anger, and inhabiting the bodies of oblivious people. The overarching plot is filled in by your curiosity. Communication gives you a better understanding of the people in Jodie's life, and Aiden can eavesdrop on conversations outside of Jodie's earshot.

At this point, Jodie needs a bandage a lot more than she needs a friendly entity.

By shifting your control between both characters, you understand each of their perspectives. Jodie is often exhausted by having this ethereal presence connected to her at all times. She's desperate to lead a typical life with healthy relationships, but feels as though Aiden prevents her from doing so. She may mutter to Aiden under her breath, urging him to stay quiet when she wants to be normal, such as when she's cooking dinner for her date. Other times, she asks for help from her companion; she wouldn't be able to corral a horse otherwise. She's kind to Aiden, but clearly resents that she doesn't have complete control over his actions. Aiden is trapped in a plane of existence that is not his own. Unable to communicate freely, he resorts to destructive behavior to get his point across. Maybe he wants to help Jodie and violence is the only path he knows, or maybe he just wants attention. The challenges both characters face are easy to relate to, helping you form a connection to them.

Choice plays a role in each of the 20 vignettes that make up the story. You decide whether Jodie responds aggressively, sarcastically, or in some other way to a question, and she can evade the truth or be honest when people ask about Aiden. Major plot points play out no matter which decisions you make, but depending on what kind of character your Jodie becomes, you find yourself in different situations. When invited to a high school party, do you flaunt your powers or shrink from them? Jodie can use Aiden to terrify those around her, but whether you take that route or present a more respectable facade is your choice. Most events take place in a vacuum. No matter how cruelly you react to others, the slate is wiped clean when the next chapter starts. This lack of permanence limits your role in constructing a story unique to you. However, there is enough flexibility in each scene to let you shape what kind of person Jodie is.

During my sole playthrough of Beyond, Jodie was a guarded woman whose trust was difficult to earn and easy to lose. When her morals were violated, she reacted with righteous anger, readily unleashing Aiden onto those who would dare to cross to the dark side. She treated those she allowed into her life with kindness. She gave a man lost after the death of his wife a chance to live once more, and forgave her parents when they caused her harm. She was as balanced as you could ever hope for a woman put in her tenuous position, always searching for the greater good beyond her immediate needs. You could construct the antithesis of my portrayal of Jodie if you desired, or find another path to venture down. So even though the story was not my own, the character was, which made me care dearly for her as the situations became more troubling.

Fight sequences interspersed between quiet scenes of introspection encompass the wild tonal shifts that that are an exhausting but common part of Jodie's life. During these confrontations, you fend off close-quarters attackers by tapping the stick in the correct direction during slow-motion sequences. Trained in hand-to-hand combat, Jodie is a formidable opponent, although her slight stature gives her a physical disadvantage against the men who fight her. To go on the offensive, you must tap toward your opponent, while tapping in another direction dodges. With fluctuating camera angles zoomed in tight, it's not always easy to understand the best course for success. This can be frustrating if you think you should win unscathed, but it feels like an accurate representation of how Jodie would fare in combat. If you try to be aggressive when positioning is against you, you will get hit, so you must be smart to avoid bruises.

Dinner isn't going to make itself.

Beyond: Two Souls does an impressive job of not breaking the narrative when you fail. At no point does a game-over screen shame you for performing poorly, forcing you to redo a difficult section. Rather, the story continues along no matter how ably you fight. Whereas more skilled players may punch and kick all those who stand before Jodie, others may be blindsided enough times that they fall down. Maybe you get whisked away to a holding cell where the opposing forces hold you captive, or maybe the police who were in hot pursuit are able to surround you. The malleability of these endeavors injects an air of believability that furthers your connection to the world. Every success and failure is yours to live with, molding what kind of person Jodie grows into as you make your way through the lengthy story.

Your controls in Beyond are limiting, letting you perform only the specific actions that each instance demands. Jodie cannot walk everywhere in a building because of locked doors, and Aiden can fly only as far as the tether tying him to Jodie can stretch. And don't expect to have access to every item or person in a room. Beyond forces you to play within tight boundaries. However, such restrictions don't hinder your engagement. You need quick reflexes in the action sequences, which makes it easy to become immersed in the back-and-forth fights, and there is even freedom in certain segments that lets you attack or avoid gun-toting soldiers, depending on how violent you want Jodie to be. The greatest strength of the confining controls surfaces during the quieter moments. Instead of watching an awkward, silent dinner play out, you're a part of it, and you can feel the suffocating atmosphere as you cut steak and drink water.

Beyond: Two Souls is a gripping adventure that doesn't get lost in its supernatural setup. It's Jodie's transformation from scared child to confident adult that's so mesmerizing, and you grow to care for her as you become invested in her plight. The story's biggest failing comes in how it handles dramatic sequences. Heavy-handed music often lays the emotion on too thick, which is a shame because the outstanding acting performances are more than able to invest you in the experience. Top-notch acting makes the characters you interact with sound believable, and their faces are expressive enough that you understand their thoughts even when they remain silent. Beyond: Two Souls so easily melds story and mechanics that you become enamored with this young woman and her extraordinary life.

The Good
Well-developed characters with evolving personalities
Grounded story that examines human failings
Controls help draw you in to Jodie's plight
Choices let you develop Jodie and Aiden as you wish
The Bad
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tom vehemently defends David Cage's previous game Heavy Rain--plot holes and all--and wishes more developers would break free of industry conventions to create wholly unique experiences.

Discussion

485 comments
ironicfool
ironicfool

I am playing Beyond right now, i must be near the end of it, and all i can think of is how simple the concept and storytelling could be, yet they just made it all super complex with a seemingly random scatter of the narrative (witch difficults our immersion and emotional connection with the characters because it keeps us a little lost all the time) and the incredibly limited, unnecessary and pointless gameplay that they drenched the "game" with, in a desperate attempt to create the illusion that we actually have a choice (when we don't!!). You can literally let go of the controller in many interactive "action" sequences and they will play out just fine without you. Go make some popcorn if you like.


I mean, i'm just writing this review because i respect - more than graphics and gameplay - the story and i was looking forward to this game for that reason, however i was also looking for a gaming experience, not an interactive super-lengthy movie pilled up in small sketches.


A "story" game should be a game that makes the player feel he needs to progress mainly to feed the emotional attachments he created with the characters and their stories. He needs to feel that he is part of the the story and that the story progresses harmoniously with his own development as a character. But specially, he needs to believe that his decisions taken in a moment will affect the next step he has to take on a continuous evolving narrative (not a randomly shattered one). All this through a dynamic, simple and fluid gameplay that doesn't "get in the way" of the storytelling but rather strengthens it.


I'm commenting this because i find an evaluation of 9/10 ridiculous. I mean, some parameters are "for the taste" but others are pure technical and creative flaws that can be objectively evaluated.

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

I played this one through when it first came out and loved it.Last night had after a long day at work I felt like playing a "story" game - put this one in and ended up playing for 5 hours. 


The teen party cracks me up cause it's a total take off from the movie "Carrie". 

Zacmaccraken
Zacmaccraken

One of my top 5 games of all time! It is THAT good. Please, do yourself a favor and play this masterpiece!!!

Zacmaccraken
Zacmaccraken

Best damn graphic's on gaming history. PERIOD!

55584623
55584623

started playing this game last week and i am enjoying a lot.

Quantic Dream still is a little messy on the gameplay elements but aside from that i find the storytelling very strong.

and like Tom mentioned the characters are very well played and developed.

gamers looking for a "breath of fresh air" should try this.

LeMental
LeMental

Now, that's a good review for a great game! Thank you GameSpot. Great story, great characters, a lot of emotions, more choices to make than other videogame sites think... 

Gopstop2222
Gopstop2222

so i dont realy understand there are no - only + and it gets 9.0? why its not 10? there have been games with - and yet they get 10 you just showed your nature gamespot how you put scores=randomly

TarkatanWarrior
TarkatanWarrior

My problem with this game, and heavy rain is that as much as I love how interactive EVERY element of the game is, there are certain aspects that just plain don't need to be. In Heavy Rain do you REALLY need to use motion controls to put a plate on a table carefully? In real life I do that without a thought, so why should something like that in a game become so in depth?

As far as Beyond two souls, it was definitely a step in the right direction, and I enjoyed the game a lot more than HR, but I still find the same issues with it.

camichan
camichan

This game is a 10.  One of the most poignant, moving games in memory -- likely since Shadow of the Colossus, yet you also get intense action, and very satisfying feeling of participation in the story.  Many games I play, I end up focusing on trophies, or just finishing it and moving on. Many games have filler elements that either are not inspiring, or just feel like grind work. You get zero of this with Quantic Dream's approach. This is the first game in a while that I actually soaked in every minute. I wonder if Ellen Page could be nominated for acting awards for her performance here. Her acting in this game is among her best, and more interesting than many movies in recent memory. The story is remarkable as well. The climaxes are more memorable in this story and Heavy Rain than were for me in M. Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock's films. I wish more games could be like QuanticDream's games. This formula works. 


I'm excited to imagine where QuanticDream could go in the future -- and I believe they are closer to the way future games will be than most design houses. Could you imagine what a stealth/espionage game like in the spirit of the Metal Gear Solid series could be done by this team? Or a truly dark story? In any case, I will be following this design team closely from now on.

Disturbed_88
Disturbed_88

Just finished it. Yes, not a mainstream gaming experience, but Quantic Dream have delivered again. 


A truly great story and characters, with amazing messages. An overall brilliant experience...

Jasurim
Jasurim

 Just finished this game myself, personally I don't think it wasn't too great.  Sure enjoyable enough most of the time, but nothing special.  Due to the way they presented the story it was literally all over the place and so it was harder to connect to the characters and care about what they are going through.  Further into the game when you have more of the pieces in place the story and immersion become a lot stronger, but it's almost too little too late.  Also the impact you have on the story doesn't feel all that strong, whether that is an actual reality or not I'm not sure as I haven't done another play-through yet.


So overall for me, a good game that just felt like it was trying a bit too hard, with a story that was a little too all over the place and overly complicated for my liking.


R6ex
R6ex

Just brilliant! Simply brilliant! My personal GOTY. Its a most unique interactive movie; filled with the most interactable life-like character models in any games out on the market. I was touched by The Last of Us, but I was moved to tears with Beyond Two Souls. Though there was too little action to be like most "games", with a weird way of story-telling (where events are jumbled up), Beyond Two Souls is a greatly-improved Heavy Rain. It tells a story like no other games. You simply need to experience it! I'm eagerly awaiting a sequel to this game. Well done, Ellen Page! Well done, Quantic Dream!

jdc6305
jdc6305

I just finished the game an hour ago. It's was awesome from start to finish.

Newklear_PHIL
Newklear_PHIL

This game got a better rating than over half of the games on Gamespot's People's Choice list, and yet somehow it's not even a candidate? Why do you turn your back on a "superb" game now, Gamespot?!

Blashbuck
Blashbuck

does it deserve to be nominated for an award for best story? sure.

but all arguments about whether or not this is a game or interactive movie aside, there just wasn't enough gameplay, and what was there wasn't compelling enough. quicktime events can help immerse you more in the story being told, but regardless of what you did, everything was scripted. there needs to be more interaction and freedom, and innovative/interesting gameplay for it to deserve a nomination for GOTY.

sa_786ali
sa_786ali

IT IS OF COURSE GAME OF THE YEARS.

sa_786ali
sa_786ali

I swear, i have never seen the game like this before and never played. i love it n waiting for part two. and the story has emotions, love and everything. creator are genius.

__Kaine__
__Kaine__

I'm disappointed this game didn't even get a nomination in GOTY..

AtariKidX
AtariKidX

Beyond: Two Souls is a Masterpiece for the PS3.........amazing game and a lot better than Heavy Rain.I hope for Beyond: Two Souls 2 on PS4.

Ehggsz
Ehggsz

I just finished this game.  I look forward to David Cage and Quantic Dreams next project!

kopolkabir
kopolkabir

beyond two souls is the best game for ps3  but the gameplay is not good

firdauslatiff
firdauslatiff

The game was fun but a little bit slow.for aiden we could only use the right analog.for the girl it was too slow.the shootind need aiking.the fighting is less interesting.the fighting is also not like splinter cell or assasin

AtariKidX
AtariKidX

A Masterpiece for the PS3.... Awesome graphics, beautiful gameplay,excellent characters,great story.

Sagem28
Sagem28

I thoroughly enjoyed this game.
Going for a second playthrough soon. 

I was genuinely sad when the credits rolled. I wish I could experience this game for the first time again...


simo_tmm
simo_tmm

Let me help Tom McShea with something.

THE BAD

- Illogical and confusing plot

- Bad direction

- Terrible editing

J-Lowe
J-Lowe

Great story, but the gameplay was lacking. The fact that there is relatively no consequence for your actions (or inaction) makes the gameplay pointless in my opinion. This robs any sense of real achievement from the gamer. I was highly involved in the plot and progression of events and took each scenario very seriously, however, in the back of my mind I felt disappointment in the truth that I was basically watching a mini-series rather than dominating a console game.

tonytheninth
tonytheninth

This game is simply amazing. I have been searching a fair review all over the internet since I finished this game with my friend, I went to visit GT and IGN they both sucked on reviewing this one. Finally I ended up here. I checked other reviews like GTA5 and bf4, I found out that this media has some interesting point of views. I will visit game spot more often from now on. 

NickD84
NickD84

I understand the reviewer and plenty of other people really got a lot out of this game, but to just flat out not list any bad points at all is just ridiculous in the review above! 

A few things based on the game play seemed to be some people's main gripes (None of them really bothered me so much), but for me the plot just got absolutely ridiculous by the end, some of the directions things went off in got to the point where it literally made no sense. I don't want to spoil things for anyone, but some things happen at the drop of a hat with no real explanation and just come off as pure cheesy.

This game really is made for the story and that is the hook. So for so many parts to be so poorly written seems just crazy to me.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

It's been a while since I played a game in one sitting. It was one hell of a journey though. I couldn't put the game down. I can see how people might not like this game. Too short, not traditional controls but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was more than what I thought it would be. Definitely will play it through again. There's time in the game (not always) that blurred the line between game and real life when it came to the graphics. If they're pulling this stuff off on the PS3, I can't wait to see what they come up with when they fully tap the PS4 and Xbox One.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

I doubt they'll make a part 2 to this game so I hope they add some DLC to expand on the ending with Zoe. All the endings left me wanting more.

derezzzed
derezzzed

Beyond Two Souls is one of the greatest gaming experiences I've had in a long time! And yes i said gaming experience and not game because thats really what it is, an experience. And a game but not in traditional sense but still a game none the less. In Beyond Two Souls its difficult, at first, to let yourself give up the ideas of "standard" controls and gameplay and let the game lead you into its world. Once I did though, i connected with the character of Jodie Holmes and her intriguing life more so than any other character in a long time. I literally was immersed in her world and found myself on the crazy roller coaster of her life. I feel as though I lived those 15 chaotic years with her. Every step of the way; every happy time, every smile, every betrayal, every death, i was there...

In the end Beyond Two Souls lets you experience the fascinating, mystical, chaotic, life that every gamer wishes they could be a part of. Its a world you can connect with and a world you wish could last forever.

Towmotorseth
Towmotorseth

Usually I disagree with Gamespot reviews, but I'm glad they acknowledge the fine experience both Cage and the actors have created. It's not the most perfect game of all time, but definitely one of the most immersive and emotionally engaging. 

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

Honestly Tom. Honestly. So, you condemn BioShock Infinite with an asinine, off-base review in which you give it a 4 for doing what an FPS makes you do - shoot people - because you didn't understand the game.

But you give BTS a 9 out of 10, which isn't even a game, because it succeeds at not being a game.

Conscrumptured
Conscrumptured

I rarely disagree with Gamespot when it comes to reviews, but this one earning a 9 really surprises me. To each their own, but yeah. It was really not, not that good in my opinion. A 7 at best, and that's being generous.

skidzchannel
skidzchannel

SPOILER ALERT!!!
Beyond Two Souls is a beautiful game. Set aside the simple game mechanics, usual "It's like a movie!" thought in your head because movies are not 10+ hours long and enjoy the story in this game which is a well crafted tale. I just don't get that some people can't understand simple things in this game like the "I just killed the Democratically elected President!" Of course she wouldn't know about that, she's a toy, a weapon and if you were playing the game up to that point it would be obvious. Then we have the people who go on and say that why can't Aiden just kill everybody or control everybody. Newsflash, there are rules people even in the infraworld. In our world there are weak souls and strong souls, weak souls are people who are insecure, have no spiritual understanding and the souls close to death while strong souls are the vigor people in the world. So yes, Aiden can't control the machine gunner but he can control the guy next to him. And the last thing that's just not cool and you can't blame them if they didn't finish the game but some people don't understand the sequence of events and why it's jumbled up. BIG SPOILER ALERT!!! Remember in all life endings she says she can't remember everything correctly in sequence so you have to use your common sense to. This all comes down to the first part where Jodie is talking to you and says "I guess I'll start here." Meaning she is the one telling the story, so the sequences are jumbled up but make sense in the big picture. That's all I wanted to say, PEACE OUT.

eva02langley
eva02langley

@JasurimSeriously... name me one game that can came close to this in the industry for storytelling. Been playing games for 25 years and I don't know many.

Blashbuck
Blashbuck

@AtariKidX 

i agree with graphics, characters and story,

but what gameplay did you find "beautiful"?

Disturbed_88
Disturbed_88

@simo_tmm
Confusing = You can't follow anything else than a straight line (i wonder if it was in chronological order you might have called it 'too linear').
Direction = I'd like to see you list more than 5 games with better directing than this one.

Editing = In a game with interactive environments (although restrictive) and lots of different conclusions, is bound to have some editing mistakes. I noticed NONE but still... for a game like this to come out flawless, it would take even a huge company lots of years to refine.

marcopolo426
marcopolo426

@eva02langley@JasurimWhat I learned from Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy is that Quantic Dream is more interested in 'Interactive Movies' than 'Games'. Look, I get it. To each his own. I'd say my problem with their games is lack of interactivity or gameplay ... But then, I had a quite a good time with Journey. Hmm ... I guess I will try this game too. But I have a feeling I won't be blown away. 


IMO, The Last of Us is the pinnacle of storytelling and pretty damn good gameplay. Bioshock, Uncharted and Mass Effect gets honorable mentions. From the past, KOTOR was my go to title of good story + gameplay. 

Jasurim
Jasurim

@eva02langley @Jasurim  For me, I would say most obvious popular titles do a pretty good job, Bioshock, a good Final Fantasy game, Walking Dead, Red Dead, TLoU, Shadow of Colossus and Deus Ex just from the top of my head.  They aren't quite as cinematic, but I think we should have learned by now that a good story doesn't need fancy graphics to make an impact.  I personally would also say Heavy Rain if you want something a bit more comparable, heck I think I even enjoyed Fahrenheit more.  I don't know what to tell you, the story just didn't draw me in, towards the end it got better as everything started to come together but I found it hard to really connect to many of the key characters.

simo_tmm
simo_tmm

@Disturbed_88 @simo_tmm

Nonlinearity can be cool when used right - with reason and purpose. What were the reason and the purpose in Beyond? Did it improve on the story? I really don't remember if there were any continuity errors but transitions between shots were often awkward. There was neither visual nor thematic connection between the story segments.

Games are generally not very good in those things and they don't need to be because... gameplay. But since Beyond is more like an interactive movie I tend to compare it to movies.

camichan
camichan

@marcopolo426 I agree that The Last of Us had a perfect story. I'd give that game a 10 as well. Where he touches his watch in the last scene -- the brilliant subtlety in the story is remarkable. Perfectly balanced. 


Between The Last of Us, and Beyond: Two Souls I could easily understand a disagreement on which is best. The comical irony of it is that either way, Ellen Page takes the cake --both stories have primary characters designed in her likeness. She definitely wins big this year! 

eva02langley
eva02langley

@marcopolo426@eva02langley@JasurimWell, that's my problem right here. You are relying on what you don't like, but shove all the quality and arts behind this game.


It is easily the most artistic take in a video game that I have ever seen. For me, it's saying a lot, but some critics, who are killing me about this sandbox BS, is comparing other games with this one to make a score... which they cannot do!


I don't have much freedom... Even there, this game offer you choices and different endings depending on your actions and choices. GTA is way more linear in the story telling department than Beyond Two Souls. WHich is ironic from all the critics I have seen.


This game is polished, without bugs, stunning visually, offer an incredible OST, incredible acting and is brought to the level of art... but yeah, you cannot shoot 100 people per chapter and fire a thousand bullets... final score 6.5...

TarkatanWarrior
TarkatanWarrior

@Jasurim@eva02langleyFF8 is my favourite game. You're arguing with someone who asked a rhetorical question without intending on actually taking your answer seriously. Shadow of the Colossus, and Braid are two games that without question totally dominate anything from Quantic Dream as far as stories go. Braid especially.

TarkatanWarrior
TarkatanWarrior

@eva02langley@Jasurimelitists are cute.

1. Everyone knows quantic dream made heavy rain, you asked for a game that was comparable in story, you didn't specify that it had to be from a different studio. On that note, indigo prophecy is better than heavy rain by a long shot.

2. Deus Ex, Shadow of the colossus, Ico, BRAID***** all way better

3. As soon as I read that response I immediately cast your opinion aside and chalked you up to being an average-to-elitist, middle-aged gamer.

Jasurim
Jasurim

@eva02langley @Jasurim  I'm well aware Quantic Dream made Heavy Rain as well.  I actually as a whole, like what they bring into gaming, but they are at the end of the day still two different games.  Additionally I would personally also argue for either FF 10 or 8, but I guess at the end of the day maybe it just comes down to personal taste.  For myself I can't see how they do any less of a good job, yes like I said before, not as cinematic, but the story is there, just explored in a different way.

eva02langley
eva02langley

@Jasurim@eva02langley1. Quantic Dream is the maker of Heavy Rain...

2. I played most of these games and I disagree... it doesn't come close. The only one I can think is The Witcher 2 in the last 10 years.

3. A good Final Fantasy game... there was one since Final Fantasy 6?

Beyond: Two Souls More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    Beyond: Two Souls is a psychological thriller from the makers of the award-winning game Heavy Rain. Players will live the life of Jodie Holmes, a young woman who possesses supernatural powers through her psychic link to an invisible entity. Experience the most striking moments of Jodie's life as your actions and decisions determine her fate.
    8.5
    Average User RatingOut of 683 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Beyond: Two Souls
    Developed by:
    Quantic Dream
    Published by:
    SCEI, SCEA, SCEE, SCE Australia
    Genres:
    Third-Person, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol