“Ever since I was born, I’ve been linked to an entity.
His name is Aiden and he’s always with me. He’s here right now…”
Beyond: Two Souls is an interactive drama action-adventure video game for the PlayStation 3, created by French game developer Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in October 2013.
The game features Jodie Holmes, one of two player characters. The other is an incorporeal entity named Aiden: a separate soul linked to Jodie since birth. Jodie, who is portrayed by actress Ellen Page, possesses supernatural powers through her psychic link to Aiden, growing from adolescence to adulthood while learning to control Aiden and the powers they share. Willem Dafoe co-stars as Nathan Dawkins, a researcher in the Department of Paranormal Activity and Jodie’s surrogate-father-figure. The actors in the game worked during the year-long project in Quantic Dream’s Paris studio to perform on-set voice acting and motion capture acting.
Beyond: Two Souls is an interactive drama action-adventure game, requiring the player to move and guide the character into interactions with objects and other non-player characters in the scene to progress the story. The player primarily controls Jodie through the in-game environments. At almost any time, however, the player (or second player during a two-player game) can switch to control Aiden instead. Aiden, being an incorporeal entity, can move through walls, ceilings, and other obstacles; however, he is limited to moving only within a certain radius around Jodie due to their spiritual tethering.
Game mechanics for Jodie are fairly simplistic and usually require you to either push the thumb stick in the direction of a white interactive dot, or if Jodie must perform a specific action, icons pop up on the screen to prompt the player to press and/or hold certain controller buttons. You can also be helped along with conversation prompts if you take too long. During combat, the cinematography moves into slow motion whilst Jodie performs the physical manoeuvre; during this time, the player must determine the direction Jodie is moving and push the thumb stick in that direction to complete the action. Other sequences require real-time stealth, which has the player sneak Jodie through environments while coordinating certain actions with Aiden.
While playing as Aiden, the game becomes monochromatic. Amongst the shades of greys, interactive objects are highlighted by an aura shining in one of several colours, with the colour of the aura indicating his potential interaction: orange characters can be possessed, red characters strangled, blue objects (or characters with environmental effects) knocked around, and green characters healed. Jodie frequently calls upon Aiden to provide different abilities, such as form a protective shield around her, allow the dead to speak to the living through her, grant her an ability to see events of the recent past, and enable her to heal a character’s wounds.
The story can be altered to an extent by choices you make, for example the moral choices you make. But, personally for me it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference what I did because I was able to choose any of the endings which to me doesn’t seem right if my choices really mattered.
My overall opinion and rating is a difficult one, as a story this is easily a 9/10 but it’s very difficult for me to actually call this a game. Unlike the Telltale series where you know the game is more story driven and basically a series of prompts, I went into Beyond: Two Souls thinking it was a proper game but ultimately it’s very much the same. I actually got prompted to close Jodie’s eyes and dry her off after her shower…
No doubt visually this game is amazing, the motion capture is incredible and the ending is fantastic. I very much enjoyed being Aiden and the revelation of his true identity (but for god sakes, his name is ay-den not eye-den, bloody French pronunciation) and Jodie’s life story is awesome but I’d have definitely preferred the chance to play it in chronological order as the impact of certain memories get lost in the mix. Although, I have to question whether I’d really just be better off watching it as a film than playing it as a game.
Rating it as a game: 5/10
But rating simply the story as I said: 9/10
Beyond: Two Souls