Game: Beyond: Two Souls
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Interactive Drama, QTE(quick time events)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Game Director: David Cage
Lead story writer: David Cage
Played on: Playstation 3
Released on: 8th october, 2013
Beyond: Two Souls lets you live and experience the story of Jodie Holmes, a girl who has been linked with an entity named Aiden since the very moment she was born. The game follows her life over a span of 15 years and lets us experience all the choices she makes and the consequences she faces.
STORYLINE AND CHARACTERIZATION
Quantic Dream has created a reputation for itself with games like Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. And Beyond Two Souls does a good job in keeping up with this reputation. Quantic Dream has always aimed at marrying gameplay with cinematic storytelling and with Beyond, it has reached a new peak. Storytelling isn’t about telling a simple story in a complicated way, but rather its the art of narrating a complicated story in a simple, elegant and beautiful way. And David Cage seems to be a master of storytelling. The story of Beyond: Two Souls is unique; its the story of a girl, Jodie Holmes, linked with an entity named Aiden, since her birth. Stories like this always risk getting too un-familiar with gamers but the story is narrated in such a smooth way that you ease into the flow without any hesitation. The storyline takes place over a span of 15 years, showing different phases of Jodie’s life which helps the player get more familiar with the character, understand her and see through her eyes. You watch her grow in front of your eyes, see her make choices and face the consequences. The storyline is vastly branched and hence every choice that you make as Jodie plays a crucial role in deciding the fate of Jodie. With almost 25 different endings, the importance of the choices you make is further amplified. And the amazing performances put forth by the star studded cast which includes the likes of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe help breathe new life into the characters. The performances by the cast are very strong; seeing them flinch and smile, cry and sulk, tear and stutter is simple wonderful. The amazing graphics further help the game to directly connect to the gamer. Coming to the characterization, the characterization in this game is very strong and detailed. Jodi Holmes is just the type of female protagonist the gaming world needed right now; strong, independent and non-stereotypical. Her personality is very defined. Not only Jodie, but each and every character has been designed carefully with a lot of detail and depth which is another plus side of this game; the side characters hold their own and aren’t over-shadowed by the dominating presence of such a strong lead character, which has been seen in many recent games like GTA V and Watch Dogs where gamers failed to appreciate the presence of the side characters due to such towering lead characters. Overall, Beyond delivers a story of a kind in a spectacular manner with characters that live and breathe.
Given the genre, the gameplay options are limited. Gameplay in this game is purely QTE based (quick time events) Beyond: Two Souls is a heavy narrative and hence depends only on the choices that Jodie has to make. Hence the scope of gameplay variety is restricted but Quantic Dream has done a good job in making best out of literally nothing.
QTE doesn’t always sound fun but Beyond uses QTE as its basic gameplay element and yet makes it interesting as there is a lot of variety to it. The game has a lot of gameplay than expected and the developers made sure that it doesn’t get too repetitive by allowing the player to play both as Jodie and Aiden. Further, Beyond can be played by two players, each controlling Jodie and Aiden respectively which gives a whole new split screen experience. Also, Quantic Dream found a perfect way of merging fight sequences with QTE in a spectacular and refreshing way. The game is fast paced for most of the time and it keeps you on the edge of your seat, with your fingers hovering over the buttons, waiting for the on-screen prompts to appear. Overall, the gameplay elements are very satisfying and QTE has never been more fun. Another good thing about this game is there is no ‘death’. As in you don’t die and re spawn if you don’t succeed in a mission. Instead not doing something right will affect your storyline and might result in missing whole chunks of the game. As there is no ‘death state’ , the story goes on in one way or another keeping the experience intact and immersive.
During the night sequences, the lighting doesn’t seem good enough; you can hardly see whats going on. The camera is very restricted which is frustrating at times. Also, character movement seems quite restricted and kind of breaks the immersion. The fight sequences and the slow mo sequences are cleverly designed but are really hard to get a hang of. Another low point was that, Beyond is game which plays along according to the choices you make; hence the curiosity of ‘what would happen if I had done that?’ is always there. But unfortunately, the chapters are quite long and the idea of playing through it all again (with absolutely no chance of skipping the cutscenes) just to see a different consequence which doesn’t last more than a few minutes is very tiring and not attractive. And although Beyond boasts of a high replay value with almost as many as 25 different endings, it is not attractive enough to actually play through all of them. The game is rather long and there are only a few key choices that actually affect the ending in a major way; hence the re runs end up being repetitive and boring except for a few changes here and there. It seemed like a cheap way to force the gamers to spend more time on the game than needed. To sum it up, Beyond does have a high replay value but it is not appealing.
GRAPHICS AND ENVIRONMENTS
Beyond: Two Souls is a masterpiece, when it comes to graphics. The graphics in this game are ‘beyond’ description. The amount of detail in the characters or the environments is mind blowing and is reason enough for buying this game. Each and every freckle, every smile and every muscle twitch is shown in a very realistic, organic and detailed way. The graphics in this game do a really great job of further pushing the power of the narrative. In short words, these graphics are a treat to the eyes. The environments too, have been very carefully designed and are interactive to a good extent. The game takes place in different locations and each environment has been perfectly designed not only to look natural and organic but also to reflect the mood of the game.