by Ben Adkins
10 / 10 Banzai!s
Games like this are the reason I still believe the PS4 was a year or two ahead of schedule. This is easily on my top ten list of best 7th generation games.
Beyond: Two Souls takes everything that its predecessor, Heavy Rain, did and does them better. The graphics are outstanding. The controls are simple, but you feel like you’re doing something, which is not the case with many story games on the market.
But what makes Beyond worth full price in a time when the prices on Amazon drop sooner rather than later is the acting and character development.
Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe turn in possibly the best performances of their careers as Jodie Holmes and Professor Nathan Dawkins, and the only people that will experience it are PlayStation owners. Eric Winter and Kadeem Hardison have spectacular supporting roles as Ryan Clayton and and Cole Freeman.
For over 10 hours of game content, their every line and movement were motion-captured for a fully realized story that spans 15 years of Jodie’s life learning to cope with the entity that has been attached to her since before she even learned about it.
Everything flows smoothly as you travel back and forth between significant periods in her life growing up, running from the law, and working with the CIA. The controls are introduced in early chapters and then put to the test, easing the player into the game. You learn basic movements with Jodie, and then how to control her friend Aiden.
Aiden is a spirit or entity that helps (or interferes with) Jodie. You learn that he is her connection to the Infraworld, where ghosts…and other creatures exist.
With Aiden you will be able to interact with the environment in a completely different way than with Jodie, see things that she cannot, and engage in a number of paranormal activities. You’re also able to freely fly around in three dimensions, until you reach the limit of the connection to Jodie (or go out of the bounds of the game.)
And if flying around as a spirit isn’t enough fun, it also enables you to access conversations Jodie would never be privy to. She’s supposed to be settling in to a new residence as the scientists study her powers, but you can use those powers to zoom next door and hear the conversation between her concerned parents and the doctors. You can also possess other characters at various points through the game for good, bad and mischief.
The bottom line is that there is enough content and enough significant decisions in this game to warrant three playthroughs. And you will want to play it at least that many times anyway.
After heaping this much praise on Quantic Dream‘s masterpiece, I will discuss one more thing: The bonuses. Inspecting areas just outside of the normal play area will unlock artwork and making of videos that you can then access from the main menu. Yes, a game with an actual extras menu like a DVD or Blu-ray. It also gives you short films that are running on actual PS3 or PS4 hardware, such as Kara, which they should flesh out into a full game in its own right.
There are even three control schemes: Single player, co-op or “Duo Mode,” and Duo Mode using the free Beyond: Two Souls app for iPhone or Android. In Duo Mode, pressing the triangle button with Jodie, which usually just switches to Aiden, will activate the second controller. Your friend, partner, or family member can then control Aiden. Pressing the triangle button will return control to the first player. This makes for a great co-op game that will have you so engrossed in the story that even in chapters when one character is dominant the other player will never get bored.
Using the app, on the other hand, is not nearly as fun, but useful for people who don’t have a second controller. Firstly, you lose the free-flying aspect that makes Aiden so fun to play as. Instead, you tap the screen and fly to preassigned orange dots. Swiping a direction or holding the screen are similar to the standard controls, but you also lose the Six-Axis motion controls that help the standard player become even more immersed in the game. Any sort of notification automatically disconnects the app, pauses the game on the PS3, and forces you to reestablish a connection with the system. And of course there is the issue of battery management.
What else could have used improvement? Replaying the last chapter five to six times for all the endings was a little excessive. The lack of a manual with the game is a sin too many game companies are committing these days. Some people will take issue with the simple control system and linear storyline. And as far as we have crossed beyond the Uncanny Valley, certain details, such as kissing animation, still need a little bit of work to be perfectly natural.
Those are minor complaints, and they do very little to detract from what is one of the best games available on PlayStation.
I hope you get to experience and enjoy dealing with the Infraworld. I know I did.
Replay Value: 10
Trophy Difficulty: 2