Retro Review | Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)

Retro Review | Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)


Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe star in this engaging science fiction tale on PlayStation 3, Beyond: Two Souls


Beyond: Two SoulsName: Beyond: Two Souls

Format: Sony PlayStation 3

Released: 11th October 2013

Developer: Quantic Dream

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

 


In a recent retro review, I took a look at a game I recently played through by developers Quantic Dreams. The game in question was the PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain, released in 2010.

Despite some now slightly dated graphics which were impressive for the time and a slightly clunky control system, I was won over by the story.

Three years later, Quantic Dreams returned with another story to tell. That game was entitled Beyond: Two Souls.

The story starts with the introduction of Jodie Holmes, a young girl who seems to possess a supernatural ability.

As the game opens, Jodie is under study in a small room with a one-way mirror. In a similar room next door, a female volunteer is choosing from various cards, each one with a very specific pattern.

Here is when you are introduced to the control system which has been significantly tweaked since Heavy Rain.

When there is an interactive object nearby, small white dots will appear over the item. A simple push of the left thumbstick towards the relevant dot will cause Jodie to interact with your selected choice. This feels more streamlined and easier to use than their previous game.


Jodie (Ellen Page) is having problems with one of her CIA missions

Beyond: Two Souls also offers another level of gameplay as you can control Jodie’s supernatural ability. By pressing the triangle button, you take control of a spirit who is tethered to Jodie and who has been given the name Aiden.

As Aiden, you can fly around the environment including through walls, although, you are limited by the aforementioned tether which is shown as a blue flowing line of light. This also serves as a guide so you can see where Jodie is. You won’t be able to fly too far from Jodie as this causes her pain.

This tutorial at the beginning of the game allows you to move between rooms and as a spirit, tell Jodie which cards the volunteer has selected.

As a spirit, you can also manipulate items in your environment like a poltergeist. However, you are also capable of much more. You can possess people and control them or even kill them but these choices are only available when it’s appropriate to the story.

The story in question was I felt better than Heavy Rain which was probably due to the strong sci-fi/paranormal element that runs through it.

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I don’t want to give away too many spoilers as the game was just re-released last year in a combo pack with Heavy Rain. Both were remastered for 1080P high definition and released on the PlayStation 4.

We find out that Jodie was bought up by foster parents. They do the best they can but Jodie complains of terrible nightmares and often wakes to scream with scratches to her arms and face.

Her foster father can’t handle what is happening and this is when she is taken to the laboratory to be looked after by Nathan Hawkins at the United States Department of Paranormal Activity.

It’s here at the DPA that you’ll watch Jodie grow older into a young woman and how the events surrounding her and the spiritual entity Aiden leads the CIA to come knocking on their doors.


 Willem Dafoe co-stars as Nathan Dawkins

To make the story more captivating, it hasn’t been told in the normal linear fashion. Instead, each subsequent chapter of the game is taken from a different time in Jodie’s life.

The three-year gap between Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls shows that developers Quantic Dreams had really got to grips with the PlayStation 3 internals. The game’s visuals are definitely a step up from Heavy Rain, in particular, the characters themselves look more detailed with better animations.

One of the major selling points for this game was in the inclusions of two Hollywood stars. Jodie is played by Ellen Page (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Umbrella Academy) and her surrogate father Nathan Drake is played by Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Aquaman).

As they have been scanned into the game along with their performance being motion captured, it brings a touch of gravitas to the game and their performance shines through. This is not a knock on the other performances in the game which are all excellent with one chapter in particular that touched me quite emotionally.


Another day at the Department of Paranormal Activity for a young Jodie

If you’re a hardcore gamer, then this may not be the game for you as I’ve seen these titles described as interactive dramas. However, if you prefer something more casual and easier going, I highly recommend Beyond: Two Souls with its engaging tale.


Four out of Five

4.5 stars for another excellent game from Quantic Dreams. Even though I gave the same star rating to Heavy Rain, I enjoyed Beyond: Two Souls a lot more.

 



John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves the movies and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990's. Whilst the web page idea became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. Now he's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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