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 is 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.