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Review: Beyond: Two Souls

David Cage’s Beyond: Two Souls is the new action adventure game for the Playstation 3 from Heavy Rain creators Quantic Dream. Beyond tells the captivating and emotional story of Jodie Holmes, a girl who is “tethered” to a supernatural entity named Aiden who helps you out along the way throughout different points in Jodie’s life. Sound interesting? Well it gets even better if you are a fan of non-linear storytelling, as unlike Heavy Rain‘s straightforward crime thriller storyline, Beyond Two: Souls is presented to you as a non-linear science fiction thriller with some fantastic full facial motion capture from the likes of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Also Available On: PlayStation 3
Release Date: Out Now

Quantic Dream’s David Cage seems to have the right idea of producing a vastly different story to his previous game Heavy Rain. In a lot of ways I found Beyond‘s story to be much more emotionally involved and found myself playing for hours on end just wanting to find out what happens next. The story revolves around Jodie Holmes who has been tethered to an entity since she was born, and of course the government wants to exploit this for military applications. Alright so far you may be thinking it sounds like a fairly typical B grade straight-to-TV movie, and yes you would be right that the premise of the story on its own is nothing to be going crazy over, but it is the non-linear way it is presented along with the actual writing that make this story shine. I have always stuck with the opinion that if a game can surprise you then it is going to be at least a fairly decent game. With Beyond Quantic Dream weren’t afraid to add in some elements that surprised the hell out of me, for instance a little bit into the game I found myself as young adult Jodie in what can only be described as an almost fully fledged horror level where a few of the moments were extremely tense and made me think of the first time I booted up Condemned on Xbox 360 all those years ago.

In classic Quantic Dream style there are 11 possible main different endings that you can get depending on various choices that you make during the course of the game. Including those 11 endings there are 23 variables that will alter your ending slightly, for example you might save one person but let another die during the story. This leaves you with a very personalised story and gives you a great sense of emotional attachment, so much so that when I got around to attempting the other endings I felt really bad for choosing something that “my” Jodie would not have. Be warned: you will have to endure this and finish all 11 main endings if you are aiming for the all important platinum trophy.

One of Beyond: Two Souls‘ main achievements is the work that Quantic Dream have done on the engine. They have managed to push the PlayStation 3 hardware to squeeze out as much graphical juice as possible from the 7 year old console, with the result of some truly amazing visuals. This is hands down the best looking game I have seen running on any current gen console. Quantic have gone so far in visual fidelity that when characters are crying the tears dripping on their face have a realistic reflections, which looks simply amazing and adds more depth to the story.

The sheer scale and the variation in the environments throughout the game is a real testament to how much work went into the game itself, including a massive desert, a snowy run down city and an immaculately detailed woodland area; however, there are a few moments where you can really tell they were struggling to get as much performance as they could out of an ageing system.

A combination of the graphical capabilities and the performance of both Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe with full facial motion capture provides a massive amount of authenticity to the emotional scenes and I often felt like I was watching an interactive movie. With the addition of great performances by both Kadeem Hardison and Eric Winter, the cast for this game interacts brilliantly and effectively.

The gameplay in Beyond: Two Souls is similar to Heavy Rain and usually involves using quick time events to initiate actions, with the addition of controlling Aiden as an entity able to fly around through walls. This is a required part of the gameplay as you will help Jodie fight off other entities, possess various people and of course do what any good ghost like creature would do by throwing chairs around, breaking mirrors and even crashing a helicopter. The quick time events have been significantly improved and simplified when compared directly to Heavy Rain‘s control system, gone are the sometimes crazy hard button combinations where I often had to contort my hands into an impossible shape, in favour of less complicated combinations with the addition of simply moving the analogue stick in the direction of the action you want to perform. There is also a simple one button cover system used within three levels of the game that I found to be uncomplicated and had no problem using during these sequences. It is also worth noting that this game can be played by two players, one controlling Aiden and the other controlling Jodie, but I haven’t had the chance to test this out as of yet.

Performances, story, graphical fidelity and the fantastic musical score produced by Hans Zimmer, which adds some fantastic suspense moments, seems to all meld together into one gigantic mix of awesome which is what makes Beyond: Two Souls one of my favourite games of the year. Perhaps the only problem I could find with it is that the game left me wanting more. I wanted there to be at least 3 or 4 more hours of gameplay.[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]Amazing visuals
Fantastic performances
Emotionally in-depth story

[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]The game left me wanting more time with it

[/tab][/tabgroup]

Official Game Site
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Dylan is an ambitious digital artist and game developer, often heavily caffeinated, Dylan has been an avid gamer since Crash Bandicoot and is currently developing a sci-fi horror game titled "Caffeine".

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