Beyond: Two Souls (PlayStation 3)

Quantic Dream returns with another psychological thriller

Quantic Dream  Beyond: Two Souls
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Interesting premise for the story
  • Great production values and actor performances

Cons

  • Interactivity is somewhat minimal overall
  • Some of the dialogue could have been a little less cliché

Bottom Line

Beyond: Two Souls is an ambitious title that pushes the boundaries of interactive entertainment, to the point where the narrative overshadows the actual gameplay.

Would you buy this?

French developer Quantic Dream has made a name for itself pushing the boundaries of interactive fiction in titles such as 2005’s Fahrenheit, and, more recently, 2010’s Heavy Rain. The latter was particularly noteworthy for its high production values. This year’s Beyond: Two Souls brings even higher production values, thanks to the inclusion of established Hollywood talent.

Ghost in the girl

The narrative of Beyond: Two Souls focuses around Jodie Holmes, a girl with a unique psychic ability. This ability manifests itself as a psychic link to an invisible spirit called Aiden. This ghostly entity has followed Jodie all her life and is prone to all sorts of behaviour, though it also follows her commands. Government researcher Nathan Dawkens has spent his time studying Jodie’s condition, as well taking care of her at the same time.

Hollywood actress Ellen Page, who has appeared in movies such as Juno and Super, lends her likeness and voice for Jodie, while Willem Dafoe, who starred in Spider-Man and Auto Focus, does the same for Nathan. It’s not often a video game packs high calibre talent such as this, and the motion capture done by Page and Dafoe also helps to make their in-game performances more believable. Combined with the high production vales already displayed with Heavy Rain, you have the most atmospheric game since 2011’s L.A. Noire.

Entertainment over interactivity

Like Heavy Rain before it, Beyond: Two Souls can be classified more or less as an interactive movie. The focus is entirely on the story and interactivity is relegated to second place. That’s not to say that there is no interactivity at all, it’s just a simpler form of interactivity compared to that of other modern games. The appeal of the game essentially lies in Page’s story, which switches regularly from her experiences during childhood to her adventures as a young adult.

Most of the time, you’ll find yourself absorbing the in-game dialogue and then choosing responses from a list of available options. The most interactive sequences in the game are the ones where you investigate environments with Jodie and Aiden, as you have full control of either character during this segment. The heavy narrative focus also means that there is a fair share of quick time events, which relegates you to pushing buttons according to on-screen prompts.

Beyond gameplay

In many ways, Beyond: Two Souls wants to show the industry and players that games don’t have to be about the technology, but more about the narrative. This approach may not appeal to everyone, but it will provide several hours of memorable fiction for those who give it a chance.

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