on October 14, 2013
So, you liked Heavy Rain?
You loved the story and the gameplay, right?
You thought that even the simple tasks like changing the diaper was fun, right?
Here's the thing about Beyond: Two Souls. The gameplay feels like a step backwards. You interact less so that the game can look more cinematic (that's the official excuse, more or less). For me, not only is there less for the player to do (there aren't even as many action scenes), but also, the new gameplay controls don't seem challenging. And that's just Jodie's controls. Aiden's have to be better, right? Well, they're definitely not more exciting than hers. Sure, they're definitely unique, but the problem I have with his controls is that it feels more limited than it should be. During the big stealth level, the game pretty much tells you exactly which enemies to take out and in what way. Aiden can choke or possess enemies, but instead of letting the player strategize which enemies to choke, which to possess, and which to leave alone, the game only gives you one way to interact with each enemy. If he is glowing red, you can choke him, but you cannot possess him. It gets silly when you see a lone enemy, but you can't choke him, or when you see a group of enemies, but you can't possess one to shoot the rest.
But, now that I have my gameplay rant out of the way, let me explain to you why I still rate this game highly and why I will still praise it:
1) The story and the acting are great.
2) The graphics are great and it is very cinematic.
3) While player decisions aren't as complex as you would hope, I was still quite impressed by the way the various endings are handled.
4) The game is accessible to those that don't play video games through either the easiest difficulty and a PS3 controller OR through a smartphone/tablet app that serves as a controller for those that are more used to casual, touch-screen gaming.
5) A local two-player co-operative mode is available.
So, why is my rating so high? I love good stories. I am a movie junkie. The only thing I like more is sharing my favorite stories with others. This game is perfect for that. After your first-run through (or during it), you can play it again with a friend or a family member or a significant other and experience their journey with them, even if they don't usually play video games. You can help them make decisions or let them choose everything on their own.
So, in conclusion, if you love experiencing and sharing stories, this game is probably for you. If you need to be first-person shooting Nazi-zombies or drive-by shooting hookers in order to be entertained or if you disliked Heavy Rain, stay far, far away. If you liked Heavy Rain, prepare to be slightly disappointed. In the end, just know that this game isn't for everyone, but, I will always consider it to be a cinematic masterpiece.
on October 13, 2013
I'm shocked at many of the negative reviews for the video game Beyond Two Souls. It's obvious that those who would criticize it don't understand that video games aren't just about shooting at bad guys and looting bodies. Games can be so much more than that. They can, in fact, be art. And Beyond Two Souls is a perfect example of that.
Beyond Two Souls tells the story of a girl named Jodie, who has a special gift. She's tied to an entity from the spirit realm that gives her special abilities. There are those who want to help her learn to use her abilities and there are those who would exploit them. Jodie must navigate a world where she learns who she can trust and who she needs to be wary of.
But Beyond Two Souls is so much more than that. This game has more story than most Hollywood blockbuster films. In its 10 or so hours of play time, you will find yourself not wanting to sleep so that you can keep playing to find out what happens next. Using an unconventional storytelling technique, the game is divided up into chapters. Each chapter covers a certain event in Jodie's life. The chapters aren't put together in a linear fashion, but are given to the player as puzzle pieces. You might learn something about Jodie's childhood, but then you'll experience her later adult years, followed by her teen years. These puzzle pieces create a whole story that is not only compelling, but downright beautiful.
Yeah, I'll admit it. This game made me cry - several times. That's how good it is. But it's so much more than story. The gameplay itself is an interactive experience unlike anything I've played before. It doesn't require standard gaming technique, but you do need to be quick with the controller to carry out certain actions that will affect how each chapter, and the game itself, plays out. There are often multiple choices available and each determines the path that Jodie's life takes. The overall effect is one that immerses you in the game unlike anything you've experienced before.
A lot of this has to do with the fine voice acting. Obviously, putting Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe behind the voices of the two main characters is going to guarantee excellent acting, but even the secondary characters feel real and natural. Add to that some of the most beautiful graphics you've ever seen in a game (seriously, you can see each freckle on Jodie's face), and this game feels more real than anything you might find on television.
To those critics who just didn't get this game, I have to ask: what is wrong with you? After all, the video game industry keeps arguing that video games can be artistic. With the arrival of Beyond Two Souls, we have just that: a wonderful piece of art that brings about complex emotions as well as any painting, book or film.
on October 11, 2013
David Cage and the fine folk at Quantic Dream have become known for creating unique and different games (and yes, they're games), however some people tend to love them and other people find it their mission in life to hate them. Whichever side of the fence you're on, it's undeniable that they offer something different from the status quo, and variety's never a bad thing, especially when it's this good.
Beyond, much like Quantic Dream's past games Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, is a very cinematic game that marries both cinematics and gameplay so that the two aren't disjointed but interwoven. While you often have free control of the character, this isn't merely a quick-time event game like some claim, however they are an important aspect to the game. But I'm fine that this isn't a game like most games where you see an amazing cutscene that builds up the characters and shows the more mundane, perhaps emotional, moments in a character's life, while the actual gameplay sections interspersed between the cutscenes have you shooting guns and whatnot. Quantic Dream games have the player doing exciting things but also more mundane things that build the characters and makes you care for them since you're an active participant.
As for the graphics, they're the best this generation. There are a few texture oddities and whatnot, but it's overall the most impressive game I've seen this generation. The character models and animations are absolutely best in class. Some of the subtle animations of the characters make them feel like real human beings and not merely video game characters. Ellen Page and everyone else involved gave great performances.
Beyond: Two Souls is an emotional journey where you get to truly experience the roller coaster ride and not just watch it play out. If there's one game you play to finish out this console generation, please make it this one.
on October 15, 2013
When I see a 5 star game getting 1 star reviews, I know something is def wrong. Well, don't take my word for it, take it for the word on people who have BOUGHT the game and played it. I've never seen this kind of greatness in a video game in a long time.Heavy Rain fans, rejoice. Beyond Two Souls is here! Quantic Dream, oh how I love thee. All I can say is wow. I was on the fence about this game with the negative activity I've seen on the web on how "it's an interactive movie" . So that's a bad thing? lol. About 2 hours in the game last night and I was instantly sucked into it's glories. I can't say enough about the graphics. Is this next gen already? LOL! I was seriously floored and I was imagining what these studs are going to make for the Ps4 one day. My wife was glancing up at it while I was playing and she was like, "oh my". I think I said the same about Heavy Rain at the time, but this is really one PUURRRRRTY Game. Storyline, fabulous. Characters, fabulous. The abilities you learn is very addicting especially the times when you can just raise Caine! I love it how it gives you the option to be a crazed out nutcase or a nice girl with good intentions. haha. I didn't want to put it down but I had to turn in for the night. I can't believe any self righteous gamer out there would have anything bad to say about this game. Perhaps the lack of apparent interaction at times when it's telling such an awesome story is a turn off for some people, but I just was enjoying the ride. I think I might be enjoying it more than Last of Us at the moment. And that is one of my GOTY potentials. If you're on the fence, do not even think about it. Turn out the lights, crank it up, and get yourself some Beyond Two Souls immediately! And please, ignore the 1 star reviews. Anyone who gives a game of this greatness 1 star hasn't truly played it or has something against Sony making awesome exclusives. I call it jealousy. :)
Beyond Two Souls is the latest work of Quantic Dream, who make the curious decision to place story, environments, and characters beyond gameplay upgrades. You play a duo of a little girl and her pet poltergeist soul-bound hanger on as you work through her life of being experimented on and the happy trails that follow. Or maybe you're trained by the CIA for "perfectly normal" work.
Gameplay is awesome with Aiden, the poltergeist. You don't have much beyond scouting and knocking things over, but you'll be surprised how absorbing that can be, and how difficult it is to keep in mind when you're fleeing police or are wracking your brain about a piece of info you need. What makes it awesome is there is real choice. You can even be a brat in the tutorial level and the game will just move on rather than go "you must prove that you're paying attention." Combat is a bit frustrating even though its simple. You tap in a particular direction or manipulate the controller itself. Whats annoying is you are supposed to gage which motion is being made while its happening. Is that straight kick to the groin a right motion, or technically up? And when you make a wrong choice, it doesn't give much in the way of notice what should have been correct. Balancing this is at least you have to slipup several times to really be punished.
Voices and environments are wonderful if a tad narrow in scope. Some stages flee like a set of canal locks, but while you're drifting along the current stretch, its awesome to stop and smell the roses. Characters have full side conversations and don't stop to bask in you PC glow when you get close enough to hear what they're talking about.
Nits are few and far between with one exception. While the super simple interface is nice, its so simple that its sometime a trial to find the white dot that you actually can interact with on that white door. You have to be standing in the right spot and push in the right direction, though this doesn't happen nearly as often during crucial moments, just during exploration. Other than that limited and still workable flaw, this is a highly polished, basically flawless diamond.
Update: I tend not to play the entire story start to finish before writing a review, but the ending for this was so hollow it lost two stars just for it. Its not as bad as ME3, but the final run up is remeniscent of Quantic Dreams massive story failure with Indigo Prophecy. The end doesn't tie in with the rest of the story well, the premise is really destroyed by trying to explain it, which just opens up massive amounts of plot holes. The main villian shows up in a total of 3 scenes, and you don't even realize he was supposed to be the villian until moments before he dies, and on and on. Its obvious that they intended to include 10-20 hours more story, because there's just so, so much that's not explained, but its slapped in your face to the point that it still demands an explanation. Trying not to provide spoilers, but when you finally learn how Jodie got her powers you're just like "What?.... That happens all the time!" QD had a massive hit with Heavy Rain, but nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory with this.
on October 10, 2013
Fantastic! Graphics were great, playthrough was fun and interactive. it felt more like a story you were apart of as opposed to a game. The story developed non-linearly and very well done. I just beat it and can't wait to play through it again to get all of the other endings.
on October 21, 2014
... but I merely liked it. This is a very hard to score game. On the one hand, the production values are amazing, and there's a lot of effort put into this. I can't accuse the game for being lazy, perhaps for trying to be too much at once?
Beyond: Two Souls is the story of Jodie, a girl who since birth has been mentally linked to an unstable, intangible and telekinetic entity called Aiden. Suffering from a lonely childhood she is then studied and recruited as a special agent, using her special ability to do missions no one else can. But when she's forced to do something that hurts her very soul, she abandons and becomes a fugitive.
What to say about this game? First, let's go with the positives. The main draw of this game is, of course, the presence of celebrities Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, both of whom do an amazing work of acting their respective roles, magnified by the amazing motion capture and animation work, making these characters seem really alive.
The visual style of this game is superb. Sometimes the realism achieves impressive levels, and you'd swear this was actually filmed instead of animated (I can already picture some creeps kissing their TVs. Don't do that, it's mentally and physically unhealthy). Of course, the cinematic nature of this particular genre helps this feel like a movie, which was surely the intention. The story has an interesting subtext (more than one), and it's very easy to grasp, so it's nothing that feels unnecessarily complicated.
Unfortunately, that's where the good stuff ends. Not to say the rest is bad, but it's mostly mediocre, which frankly, I think it's worse. Let's start with the control system. As a fan of the developer's previous game in the same genre, Heavy Rain, I was really excited for this one. And, at the beginning I thought it'd be a better experience. Heavy Rain's control system was simple, but sometimes required playing Twister with your fingers. The system is even simpler this time, which is a blessing at first, but ends up making the gameplay feel even more than a collection of Quick Time Events, so this largely escapes the category of "game" and enters "interactive movie" territory.
Second, the story. It's not bad or anything like that, it's just unoriginal and extremely convoluted. In fact, instead of one interactive movie, it feels like several, many of them belonging to a different genre. At a point you're in the middle of a slasher flick, then you're in a war movie, then in a fantasy film, then in a romantic one, then in a family drama, then in a sci-fi adventure, etc, etc, back and forth. This is no error of the developing team either, as they have claimed it was intentional, to make it feel more like real life. Problem is, real life has no narrative, that's why films, games and any other entertainment media are divided into genres.
This problem is exacerbated by the curious decision of presenting the story in chapters out of order. So the game asks us to get emotionally involved with characters we don't yet know much about. I guess it's not really that much of a problem since almost all of the characters are incredibly tired stereotypes. You can easily recognize after just a few words of dialogue in which films you've seen this character already. And it's not just that they're tired, they're unrealistic. Villains who do things just "for the evulz", kids who will act like psychopaths rather than normal bullies, a person who lost her voice in an incident and spends the day staring at the nothingness, etc.
The situations and dialogue suffer from the same problem of excessive familiarity. I'd say that too many times throughout the game you'll feel a strong sense of déjà vu, but a déjà vu implies a possibility, while here is patently obvious that you've already experienced most of this.
The only character that's not technically a stereotype is Jodie, and that's because, unfortunately, she's a Mary Sue. Each and every one of the character's problems are caused by someone else, as she seems incapable of making bad decisions or having defects (save for one incident, that feels too shoehorned due to how different the rest of the game is). If someone is against her, that person is either evil or wrong. If there's a place where people have problems, she will show up out of the blue to solve them. Whenever she does something wrong, it's because she was tricked into doing it. This absolutely robs Jodie of the ability to be sympathetic. It's a testament to how likable Ellen Page is that you don't feel so infuriated that you'll throw the game's disc away in disgust.
Then there's the gameplay. While it seems just the same as it was in Heavy Rain (specially as it uses the same control system), they've stripped away a major part of what made it so good: choice. This game is extremely linear, specially compared to Heavy Rain. Here, almost nothing of importance is left to you. Let me present you three situations in the game: a) you have to get ready for a date; b) you have to socialize with other kids in a birthday; c) you have to kill a warlord.
In (a) you can choose what to cook, what to wear, what music to listen to and wheter to clean the place or not. Most of these decisions have no outcome in your date, as it actually depends on previous and/or later decisions. In (b) you are invited to dance by someone, you can accept or refuse, and all it changes is the dialogue, as you'll end up dancing anyway. In (c) you have no choice. You have to kill the man to advance the story.
So, as you see, you either have total control over small, pointless decisions, or you have the illusion of control even though the outcome doesn't change or you have no control at all, specially in the most important decisions. This might not be a problem with another game in the genre, but when a game pretends so hard choices are important, specially when it comes in the heels of another game which fulfilled that promise, it's a severe step down.
It's really a shame, and I have no doubt that people are giving this game a better score than it deserves (many reviewers here admit as much) due to the fantastic presentation or the star power, but I have to be honest here. This game is good, yeah, but it's not fantastic, not great, not even VERY good. Just good.
on October 10, 2013
The so called experts and reviewers who gave this game anything less than top marks are the very same people who go see movies expecting to be disappointed and no matter how brilliant the film is, they only look for and talk about the flaws. So when trolls, whether on Amazon or (fill in the gameing website or magazine) say they don't like the controls, or this or that, pay them no mind, because they have lost sight of what makes this the most unique and innovative game created in many years. Beyond: Two Souls is the most amazing example of story telling ever displayed in a video game. Personally, I've been waiting a long time for a game developer to come along that is more interested in telling a good story than anything else. I know I'm not the only one either. I feel like there is so much opportunity to take gaming in this direction and satisfy a huge void that exists in the industry today. To me, the story is the most important and enjoyable part of the game. Don't get me wrong, I like pushing buttons too, but without good visuals and a belivable narative, it just seems like a waste of time. Not to belabor the point, but when I played Metal Gear Solid 4 GOTP, I would get sad when the 30 minute cut scenes ended because they were rich and deep and really developed and made you care for the characters.
Why do people start, but not finish so many games? Because they don't care about what happens next, or said another way, they get bored. I can assure you, that will not happen here. The story is for a mature audience. More because of the subject matter than because of violence and language. Children's minds aren't developed enough yet to comprehend many of the themes and emotions this game delivers. So parents, don't buy this for your 12 year old, it wasn't made for them, it was made for you.
I think I will buy two copies of this game just to support QD in hopes they continue to make and release content of this caliber. I sincerely encourage you if you have any capacity to think and feel to pick up this game and not think twice. Focus on and surrender to the story and you will not be disappointed.
on October 15, 2013
One thing that gripes me is that people that rate this game low didn't pay attention to what type of game this is. It's a cinematic drama, not an RPG or FPS. If you are wanting that, then don't buy it! Or at least rate it fairly for what type of game it is!
I'll start out with what I think was a mistake and get that over with. Between scenes of play (I say scene because it is like living in a movie) there are spots on an etheric looking timeline. The typical game play is when a segment is highlighted you click it when you are ready. Well it doesn't work like this in this game and there is no indication of doing anything a-typical. In fact, it just will load in a few seconds. if you start clicking it just gets confused it seems till it freezes up (I'm sure there will be a hotfix for this in time. Other than that I really don't have anything to say about mistakes. it's simple, just let it load and if you want to quit, just hit the start button after it loads and it will save the game there despite the warning you will lose all saved progress. They should have given some sort of small instruction in all that space they have in that screen toward the bottom or something.
The one thing that MIGHT have been a mistake had I chosen to choose what level player I am would have been my own. However, in a new game, though I've been gaming since the early 80s, I chose to be an inexperienced gamer. I have found arrogance in starting a new game, no matter what games I have played before hand, always leads to frustration. I figure once I get an idea of what is going on, if it is too elementary, then I'll go back and start again. No harm and very little time invested. I'm glad I did chose this option! What a neat way to play the game and after you start getting the hang of different things it stops giving you the prompts. The controls are even different, yet some similarities, than in "Heavy Rain". The best thing you can do is just not assume in any game you play that you got idea already. Prevents a lot of frustration.
Past that, the whole game is totally immersion at it's best in storyline. It breaks things up going back and forth in time so that it keeps things rich, exciting, and reveals what you need to know at the right times. The set back periods are never so long if you fail something that it becomes frustrating to play past the "ugh, I screwed up". LOL I have had a great experience in this so far and it has totally captivated me. I never play games anymore past a couple hours at a time in order to obtain balance in my life now a days, but I found myself hooked to the ps3 yesterday for about 6 hours. Enough said! I won't give spoilers or anything like that. The graphics, and way they incorporated the game play was smooth, pleasant, and immersive to the best degree possible.