Beyond Two Souls review

Beyond Two Souls review

T3 3
  • Beyond: Two Souls is a game that tells a gripping and compelling yarn, but the gaming medium may not be the best way to tell it.

    Beyond Two Souls review

    Love

    • Great actors
    • Emotional punch
    • Unique vision

    Hate

    • Dull set-pieces
    • Disjointed plot
    • Boring mechanics

    Beyond Two Souls is a typical David Cage game and, if you don’t know who David Cage is, it’ll be like no other video game you’ve ever played. Anyone who is familiar with Cage’s previous works will know what they’re in for.

    Like Farenheit and Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls eschews traditional gaming mechanics and priorities (high scores, leadboards, multiplayer modes) and aims, instead, at making a human connection with the player. While it does this successfully, for the most part, too often this consideration comes at the cost of the player’s enjoyment of gaming engagement.

    You seldom have fun in Beyond Two Souls, even if you happen to like the plot it contains or admire it as art that reaches for some lofty heights.

    Beyond Two Souls: Plot

    Beyond Two Souls tells the story of a young woman named Jodie Holmes (played by Juno's Ellen Page). From as young as she can remember, Jodie has been linked with a spiritual entity called Aiden, who is both a blessing and a curse in her life.

    On the one hand, his supernatural abilities make Jodie a formidable opponent. On the other, Aiden’s existence tends to freak out other folk, casting Jodie into the unwanted role of the perennial misfit.

    The narrative zings back and forth across the course of Jodie’s life, revealing salient details. Her upbringing was hard; after Aiden’s shenanigans proved too much for her foster parents she was placed in the company of Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe) a government scientist who acted as her surrogate father. It’s largely through him that Jodie’s able to better control Aiden’s powers, and once she comes of age, the CIA comes calling.

    Beyond Two Souls: Characters

    The game benefits immensely from the superb motion captured performances of its cast. Page is something of a revelation here; she is totally convincing as Jodie in every stage of her life, running the gamut from confused, angry teen to intrepid recruit to battle-scarred refugee.

    While the plot takes her places that, at times, seem preposterous, Page never comes across as anything less than utterly genuine.

    The supporting cast are equally good; Willem Dafoe is solid as Jodie’s father figure, while Kadeem Hardison provides a warm presence as Dafoe’s lab assistant. Ryan Clayton is suitably enigmatic as Jodie’s CIA handler.

    The rest of the cast is made up of actors players won’t necessarily recognise, but they do a great job anyway – particularly the four who play the close-knit group of homeless people Jodie finds herself in the company of.

    Beyond Two Souls: Gameplay

     

    Beyond looks great and contains some good performances. It also has some moments guaranteed to tug at the player’s heart-strings, provided they aren’t entirely without pathos. The main problem the game has is the fact that it’s not very much fun to play.

    For the most part, players are limited in their approach with Jodie. They can pilot her around interacting with certain items in her environment. Occasionally they’ll be called on to pick from an array of responses – sometimes vocal and sometimes not – and while all of this sounds compellingly like Heavy Rain’s splintered narrative mechanic, one gets the sense that Jodie’s path, to a large degree, is set in stone.

    The real mis-step occurs when the Beyond tries to become a stealth game with the odd bout of gunplay thrown in; the controls offer neither the agency nor the depth to convince in either case.

    There are instances where players can use Aiden, Jodie’s spiritual familiar, but in most of these cases, they simply pilot him to marked items he can tamper with or characters he can possess. The most exciting examples of this occur when Jodie’s on the run and Aiden becomes the edge she needs in a stand-off between her and the authorities.

    Too often, however, the gameplay seems to skirt the edges of the narrative, rather than contribute anything meaningful to it. In one scene, for example, players are forced to spend a lengthy amount of time preparing a dinner.

    In another, they spend about a half an hour carrying out chores on a ranch. In these parts, the momentum of the plot stalls badly and players would be forgiven for thinking that they weren’t playing a game so much as using their controller to nudge a movie along.

    Beyond Two Souls: Verdict  

    In the end, Beyond Two Souls feels more like an interactive movie than a game – more so even than either Fahrenheit or Heavy Rain did. David Cage deserves some credit for trying to build an emotional connection between his characters and the player, but it’s just a pity the mechanical side of the game keeps them at arm’s length.

    The game looks gorgeous and its premise isn’t exactly what you’d call run-of-the-mill, but between the simplistic gameplay and legion of quick-time-events, players may get the impression that they are surplus requirements to David Cage’s admittedly unique vision.

    Beyond Two Souls release day: Out now

    Beyond Two Souls price: £39.99

    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-lead-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-1-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-2-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-3-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-4-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/be/xs_Beyond-two-souls-5-624.jpg
  • Beyond: Two Souls

    Best deals

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now