Game On Review :: Beyond: Two Souls
October 28th 2013
Tell anyone that you shed a tear over a video game and they’ll probably slap you, tell you you’re 26 years old and to get a hold of yourself. Well, that’s my experience anyway.
On the other hand, you can openly tell someone you bawled your eyes out to the end of The Green Mile then receive a hug and a softly spoken “me too.”
But then you’ve got a guy like David Cage, who appears to be on a one-man mission to bridge the gap between the mediums of gaming and cinema. He’s the guy behind the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain, and his newest venture looks into the dark side of the supernatural in Beyond: Two Souls.
Your subject, and indecently the subject of the FBI, is Jodie Holmes: just your average girl that has a guy named Aiden joined at the hip.
Here’s the kicker, nobody else can see Aiden, because he’s an entity from another universe which nobody else can see or talk to. What they can see is the havoc Aiden can raise (flipping inanimate objects, creating distractions and even possessing the bodies of others); hence why the government has such a vested interest in the young girl.
Here is where the game veers off the proverbial binary path. Instead of being set a series of challenges, you’re given a front-row ticket to Jodie and her inner demons. That front row seat does give you the power to make big decisions in a lot of situations, though. Sometimes you’ll want to see a situation play out calmly, and others, well… let’s just say the Streets of Rage isn’t just a game from the 90’s.
With everything this game promises (but without giving anything away), it could have been so much better. It’s almost like David Cage had all of these incredible ideas that they’ve tried to squeeze everything in, but there are still a few things that stop it from being a great game.
The first: when I said they went for the cinematic approach, I didn’t just mean the cut scene direction. Ellen Page plays Jodie and Willem Dafoe plays one of the FBI agents. Performance-wise this is fantastic, however, for the immersion side of things? Not so great. For a good 15 hours I followed a young woman struggling with the inability to live a normal life, wondering why she wasn’t playing indie guitar music while pregnant.
Now to her credit, Ellen Page delivers everything on the page beautifully. It’s one of the best game performances I’ve seen, and yet it’s the contradictions in the script that really let this game down. On numerous occasions, Jodie claims that she can’t control Aiden. He’s a wild animal and makes his own decisions. Yet on every single occasion Jodie asks for help, Aiden’s there to pick up the pieces, only to be told how shit he is and how he’s ruining her life – which I’d be fine with for the teenage years, but she’s never grateful. Come on girl, give a spiritual spectre a break!
It sounds as though I really dislike this game, but it’s actually quite the contrary. I’m just disappointed with a concept that could have been a real shake-up to the industry but has tripped at the final hurdle.
The strengths really lie in the situations Jodie has to face, one moment you’re fighting and running from the police, and then you’re chopping up carrots for a date night.
Slowly but surely, the game chips away at your emotional side and gives you just enough control to feel as though you have an impact on this girl’s life.
In the coming years, this sort of game will be refined and taken to the next level (I hope). But for now, if you feel as though you have the time to invest emotionally, it’s definitely worth a go.
Beyond 2 Souls is available now for PS3.