Beyond Two Souls Goes Beyond The Typical Gaming Experience

Review: Beyond Two Souls shows just what video games are capable of.

Review: Beyond Two Souls shows just what video games are capable of.

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 ┬áis 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.

2 thoughts on “Beyond Two Souls Goes Beyond The Typical Gaming Experience

  • December 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I started this game Friday night and played 3+ hours a day until I finished it late Sunday night. After finishing the game, I looked at reviews and was absolutely astounded at them. This prompted me to look for alternative points of view which is how I found this review.

    I agree completely with the review. The game isn’t perfect but I can easily look past it’s failings such as the bad quick time events that seemed to fail for no apparent reason or cheesy dialog like “Consider this my resignation!”.

    Most of the bad reviews focus on the controls or the fact that it’s an “interactive movie”. It’s an adventure game and that entire genre is basically defined as an interactive movie or book. As for the controls, there is no game over so the bad controls weren’t that big of a deal. If you got a game over screen for failure then it would be really annoying but without that it’s not a big deal.

    Most reviews of this game are done by men and I have to wonder if they have insecurities with helping Jodie date a man or have problems putting themselves in her shoes during many of the game’s best parts (non-action sequences). I’m comfortable with who I am and have no problem with playing as a female protagonist and wish there were more of them. It’s impressive when a married man with kids is nervous about Jodie’s date and hopes it goes well (will he like the dinner I made? Did I pick out the right outfit? Etc). Speaking of being drawn in, my wife isn’t a gamer but she watched me play this game and I wasn’t “allowed” to play unless she was there.

    This game really shines during the life moments and I could have actually done without any of the action parts. Just give me a coming of age story and I’d be more than happy to play it. This is the best game I’ve played all year and one of the best for the PS3. I know this game didn’t sell well but I hope we get some DLC for it anyway. Oh and I’m not afraid to say, my wife and I both got teary-eyed at several places in the game. This game isn’t for everyone, those men that don’t want to play as a woman, those gamers that hate adventure games, gamers that don’t like art games, or guys that put an emotional brick wall around themselves should steer clear. Otherwise get this game and enjoy the hell out of it.

    • December 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks for chiming in. This is easily my favorite game of the year. I love that it was different and I love that it was focused more on story than gameplay (although there was enough to keep it interesting).

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