It's been four years since Quantic Dream released Heavy Rain, the PS3 exclusive action/adventure game that blurred the lines between game, movie, and interactive story. Naturally, it rubbed some gamers the wrong way with its linear nature and QTE centric controls, but it received a generally positive reception. Beyond: Two Souls continues that tradition, though with a larger budget, and while utilizing the acting talents of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. Will it eclipse its predecessor?
Check out the critical response below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
"Beyond: Two Souls is a gripping adventure that doesn't get lost in its supernatural setup. It's Jodie's transformation from scared child to confident adult that's so mesmerizing, and you grow to care for her as you become invested in her plight. The story's biggest failing comes in how it handles dramatic sequences. Heavy-handed music often lays the emotion on too thick, which is a shame because the outstanding acting performances are more than able to invest you in the experience. Top-notch acting makes the characters you interact with sound believable, and their faces are expressive enough that you understand their thoughts even when they remain silent. Beyond: Two Souls so easily melds story and mechanics that you become enamored with this young woman and her extraordinary life."
"With Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream has smoothed away nearly all the rough edges in how it presents its stories. The other edge of that sword is that it lays the stories themselves bare to be judged entirely on their own. With so many of the traditional elements of gameplay stripped away, like challenge and exploration, a tremendous amount of weight is put on Beyond's story to carry the day. While it's exhilarating to see a team that has worked so hard to perfect a new way of telling stories, I couldn't help wishing they had a perfect one to tell."
" I wish the story would have focused more on its emotional core than blockbuster theatrics, but I was still struck dumb by the impactful last hour. In the end, you make a truly profound choice, and see its consequences. There are multiple endings – none perfectly happy, each powerful. That’s how I’ll choose to remember Beyond – brilliant and flawed at once."
Thought It Was OK
"All I can say is that in spite of its sometimes dopey script, its slavish dedication to control mechanics that don't always quite fit, and its unrelenting desire to stuff in as many obvious blockbuster movie references and cliches as a single game can hold, I enjoyed the experience of playing Beyond: Two Souls. It certainly won't change the minds of anyone not interested in Cage's particular brand of game, but for my money, I think Cage at his best still earns your attention by sheer virtue of what he aims for, and sometimes even manages to capture, if only for fleeting moments and sequences."
"Scene by scene, Beyond: Two Souls is compelling enough, principally thanks to a remarkable performance from Ellen Page. But never before have I felt like such a passive participant in a video game, my choices and actions merely icing on a dense, multi-layered cake. Playing Beyond is a memorable experience, yes, but a good video game it is not; and while the credits were rolling I admit to thinking I would have been happier to sit back and watch a movie version that was eight-and-a-half hours shorter."
"For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond -- and they can be leveled in feckless abundance -- the overwhelming problem with it is that it's just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they're feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing."
"The narrative's problems feed into the mechanics. Aiden's powers – and how they're exerted – are woefully inconsistent with the story, and the game is utterly straightforward in its moment-to-moment interaction with the player. Which would be fine if the game's narrative hooked you in. But it doesn't. There are bright moments, but when a game sells itself on a story, said story better be good. This one isn't, and anyone expecting Heavy Rain 2 is going to be sorely disappointed."
"The wider problem with Quantic Dream’s whole approach is that none of the stories they’re telling justify the interactive element. There is nothing about Beyond that is improved by the fact that it is (barely) interactive and apart from the multiple choice ending you have very little direct influence on how things turn out."