PS3 Review: Beyond: Two Souls

Can Quantic Dream raise the bar higher than Heavy Rain?

Beyond: Two Souls is the latest from David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream. His past two titles Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain were met with great critical acclaim as they offered a huge emphasis on player choice and the impact of those decisions, also resulting in multiple endings for both. Heavy Rain was the better of the two and did well commercially for the PS3, but with Quantic Dream scoring Hollywood stars Ellen Page and Willem Defoe, are they trying too hard to bridge the gap between games and films?
The game follows the story of Jodie Holmes who has been linked with an entity named Aiden from birth; he can move objects with great force, kill people and other creatures, as well as mess with electrical equipment and protect Jodie from harm’s way. The story is played out in a mixed up order of Jodie’s life, one minute you’ll be playing as her when she’s around 10 and the next when she’s older trying to sneak out for a night out dressed as a Goth. She’s under the protective eye of Nathan Dawkins of a group who studies paranormal activities, played by Willem Defoe. Both actors gave their likeness, voice and full motion capture to the game for a realistic performance.

In terms of story, it’s hard to get into if I’m honest. It’s disjointed in the way it’s done and the choices you make don’t seem to impact the story as great as in Cage’s past games. It also feels like the only choices are to either be good or just plain evil, there’s no middle ground. Gameplay controls like Quantic Dreams’ past catalogue with quicktime events aplenty and using the right analog stick to activate situations, switches and so on.
It’s also a damn crazy plot to boot, one minute you’ll be going to a birthday party and years later you’ll be trying to shut down a condenser portal to where the entities come from. It’s all bizarre, even for a game by Quantic Dream. Luckily, the cast save the day with believable performances and great visuals thanks to motion capture tech, it’s not the deepest experience in storytelling…but it’s one that I found intriguing nonetheless. Controlling Aiden to mess with objects and people is amusing at first, but it does become second nature towards the end.

There’s a Duo mode for two players where one will play as Jodie and the other as Aiden, but the only real reason I can see to do this is to earn the two trophies associated with them, as well as replaying the game for the alternate decision trophies and to clean up on anything else you missed. One playthrough should take around 10 hours, but gaining all trophies will probably take 2-3 playthroughs.

The Verdict

Beyond: Two Souls may not have been nearly as memorable as Heavy Rain, but it’s still an interesting albeit, bizarre tale with a memorable cast in Ellen Page and Willem Defoe. It’s hard to recommend for those who didn’t enjoy Heavy Rain but impossible not to recommend for those who did.