Beyond: Two Souls (2013 Video Game) Review

btscover

For a very long time I’ve been saying that video games are the new movies.  The cinematic storytelling you see in video games these days is absolutely fantastic when done correctly.  When you allow a director and writer with a vision the ability to put their willpower and desire behind a project you will be moved and entertained all at the same time.  A very good example as to how far this new venue in video games has come is Beyond:  Two Souls.  A fantastical event that puts you into the very movie where your choices can have epic consequences as the game/movie plays out.

Beyond:  Two Souls was hammered like a magical blade straight off the Anvil of Crom.  Writer and Director David Cage held the hammer that pounded the life into this brilliant take on video game cinematography.  If David Cage was the black smith then Quantic Dream was his hammer, and the result was a fine game with a beautiful polish, great music, and just the right amount of over the top action with a tear jerking story in between thanks to some awesome music by Hans Zimmer.  Yeah baby!

This game should have been titled, “How To Get Your Hot Girlfriend To Be a Gamer.”

When you first fire up the game, if starts off a bit inconsistent.  You’re really not sure what in the hell is happening until the ball gets rolling on this thing.  After the third chapter you’ll be in the loop however, I feel it shouldn’t have taken that long.  However, once you’re at the birthday party you realize that you are actually the driving narrative of the story itself with a little help from Aiden.  You’re not actually being told a story, you’re decisions make that happen for you in the game.  For this we have to thank Ellen Page, a fantastic Canadian actress who is able to make the main character believable, even though the events unfolding around her are taking place, sometimes at a reckless pace.

bts1Jodie Holmes, the main character, has her life unfold before you in various chapters.  Actually I wouldn’t call them chapters but more like events with a title.  These events are not in chronological order and they span over 15 years of her life.  At first you feel like your wading through a mud pit of direction.  The haze disappears once you have some fun with Aiden, a demonic-like entity that torments Jodie’s life.

Jodie Holmes you’ll find has more baggage than your baby’s mama (or daddy).  She has a connection to the infraworld, or afterlife.  She also is a pawn of the CIA’s Department of Paranormal Affairs, various government conspiracies, parental issues, and of course a sometimes devious entity that haunts her.  The main character is like a wild animal placed in a cage and when she gets loose, watch out because the shit really hits the fan.

A plus with Jodie Holmes is they didn’t make her into a blonde bombshell femme fatale.  She is completely average and Ellen Page’s voice acting is fantastic.  Every sound clip she has emotion and a certain intensity that the other voice talent can’t match.  Even Nathan Dawson (voiced by William Dafoe) has a hard time being on her level.  Unfortunately you sometimes see the Green Goblin pop out in his acting, but it’s okay.  He still gives it that extra polish that makes this cinematic event worth a try.

The only real issue I have with the game is that it can’t make up its mind what genre of a game it is.  One chapter it’s scary as hell, another chapter you think you’re playing Modern Warfare 3.  Doesn’t really make too much sense and I get it that through out our lives we’re different people but when you’re trying to convey a story, I’m not so sure I would put Fox Mulder in a cooking show, or Dean Winchester in a submarine.

Though there are times when this works.  For instance when Jodie is homeless and has to scratch up enough money forbts2 food.  Sure it isn’t much for storytelling but it makes you emotionally invested in the character and once you are, then you begin to care more for the main character than you do your dog.  Whom I’ve forgotten to feed several times, damn it!

As for the game-play, I can honestly say this is probably one of those games that you absolutely do not need a walk through for.  It is super newbie friendly.  The entire game is basically contextual, sometimes too much like when you’re cooking or something, gets a little monotonous.  But guys, seriously, if you’re looking for an excuse to play video games and hang out with your significant other than this is your move!  The two player aspect of the game is fun and it let’s you hang out with your significant other and veg out at the same time!  You won’t get yelled at!  FTW right?

Playing with Aiden is also fun however, being a super powerful entity with the ability to crash helicopters, possess people, stop hearts, pick up cars and throw them kinda wears off.  The real action is playing Jodie, as you’ll see she isn’t all about opening doors and walking around a creepy laboratory.

There are a few instances where in combat, if you mess up, Jodie will literally get the crap beat, tore, shot, or sliced outta her.  Almost to the point where you’re like “She should be dead!”  It gets to the point finally that when your come to your senses that you’re immortal, you are at least thankful for the good story telling to keep you playing.

The game allows you to make many different decisions that can change the entire outcome of the game.  It’s cool but there are some decisions that you cannot make and that you are just forced to accept.  I understand that from a story teller’s perspective but once you give a person the ability to make all these choices but not for others it almost doesn’t make much sense.  It’s a worthy try though.

bts3For Graphics I have no complaints.  Zero.  There isn’t much exploration, which normally I would kick a score for, but for this game I won’t because it’s more like a movie and they want to keep you sailing through the plot rather than let you lull yourself to exploration.  But every area was beautiful in its craftsman ship and is just a wonderful thing to look at.

The game also has lots of Achievements/Trophy’s for you trophy hunters out there.  Boasting an incredible 24 different endings you could be playing this movie for quite some time.  Though to be honest this game probably isn’t for everybody.  They could have easily just made a television show outta this thing and it would have been enjoyable also if you can keep those Hollywood big shots from coming in and stealing a writer’s ideas and perverting them to promote some stupid agenda…

Which is why I am glad to see that this new era in story telling has arrived.  Quantic Dreams has given us a vision of what’s to come and we’re better off for it.  Though the game wasn’t perfect, but for what it was, it’s an awesome adventure and it was one I was more than happy to share with my wife.

The CE Score Sheet (1-5)bts4

Production Quality:  5

Cast: 4

Cinematography:  5

Soundtrack:  5

Story:  4

Game-play:  2

Replay ability:  4

CE Metascore:  4 BUY IT!

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