It’s safe to say that Quantic Dream has a different approach to gaming as a whole. You can tell that by the fact that they don’t say that they make games, but “cinematic storytelling experiences”. It’s a pretty flowery term for lack of gameplay in my book, but despite that they have managed to produce some pretty good titles in Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy.
So now we have the highly touted Beyond:Two Souls that has dazzled us with their impressive motion capture cinematics featuring the acting talents of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. After a series of trailers it appeared to be in the same vein of gameplay that Heavy Rain was, but they surprised us at this last E3 trailer with a very military heavy sequence that made us think there might be more to this game than appears. The question is, would that hold up after release?
The short answer is no. While the controls and interactivity of the game has been greatly improved since the previous QD title, you really are jumping into this title for the story of it. In Beyond: Two Souls you play sad, lonely, and troubled youth Jodie Holmes (Page) as we play through sporadic points of her life. Jodie since the day she was born has been haunted by an entity that she calls Aiden. After having a very tumultuous upbringing in a foster home, Jodie is left under the care of Nathan Dawkins(Dafoe) to monitor her connection with Aiden and in time learn to try to control him.
Graphically speaking the work done with the motion capture might be one of the most impressive I have seen this console generation. This game really does take motion capture to the next level and if it didn’t have the obvious tell-tale look of being an animated graphic it could very well have been a live action movie. It’s handy because it requires the actors to perform some of the stunts to a degree so the animations are lifelike and realistic for the most part, and with the exception of showing teeth, all of the facial reactions are picture perfect.
Throughout the story we are constantly jumping through various points of Jodie’s sad, horrible life as she trudges through experience to experience. While it does manage to come together properly in certain points, it causes the entire experience to feel very disjointed and difficult to follow. On more than one occasion I’d feel I’d start to get a handle on things, and the out of the blue the set pieces would completely change on me.
Most of the play as Jodie somewhat falls into the same type of control Heavy Rain had. Wandering around a room, looking for the interactable elements. They did fix the movement controls to feel a bit more natural, which is a massive improvement over the complete train wreck that the previous title had offered us. But the real I guess “fun” of the game would be when you switch and control Aiden.
When shifting to Aiden you basically can glide around Jodie’s immediate area. Depending on the situation, Aiden’s functions change although pretty linear in function. In some situations you just have to play the spooky ghost and knock things around, other times you can possess people to infiltrate areas, and sometimes if you are lucky you will get to strangle someone to death to fend of an enemy entity. Sadly you usually don’t get much in the way of options of what you can do, you just have to really do what is presented.
And that’s really it. You get this illusion of freedom to make different choices and play scenarios differently, but for the most part it doesn’t seem like it alters the gameplay or the story too much. So is the game any good? Well, I tend to be a sucker for a decent story. I managed to crank out the whole thing in about two sittings. The game features multiple different endings and there are ways to play scenarios differently so I suppose there is a bit of replay value. I would say that I enjoyed my time with it.
Would I recommend you buy it? No, probably not. Not for 60 bucks anyways. There just isn’t enough engaging elements to it keep you glued to the TV to keep going at it. Even sitting through the story a 2nd time was a bit of a challenge for me since the game is nearly a constant wash of depressing moments. I have my own sad life to experience that shit. So I guess I could probably give it a fairly half-hearted recommendation. It’s worth a redbox, or if it came down to 20 or 30 I would say go for it. But definitely not full retail price. If you want to play a good Ellen Page game, play the one she’s not in: The Last of Us. (Johnson > Page)