Quantic dream has produced many masterpieces such as ‘Fahrenheit’ and ‘Indigo prophecy’. ‘Heavy Rain’, which was considered to be a wonderful “interactive novel” was applauded by many. Along with David cage, they bring you yet another Hollywood inspired game (or do I call it a movie with a little bit of gaming?), Beyond: Two Souls. David cage has always known to infuse emotions and drama into his games, but has it work this time around? Let us see.
Release Date: October 9, 2013
Genre: Interactive Drama
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Quantic Dream
Available Formats: PS3
The Protagonist, Jodie Holmes is gifted with a friend from her childhood, Aiden, who is an invisible spirit. Her voice-over is done by Ellen Page, the actress from the movie Inception. William Defoe aka Dr. Nathan (now who doesn’t know him) is Jodie’s father like figure. He is working with the Department of Paranormal Activity, also known as DPA, which is handled by CIA. Aiden, Jodie’s invisible spirit friend, has the powers to move through walls, interact with objects, take control of people, or even choke them to death. He is controlled by Jodie, or when needed, he even does things on his own.
The game starts with Jodie at the police station with an officer asking her some questions. The police station soon gets stormed by the SWAT team. How she ended up there, who she is, nothing is revealed as of now. Just some cut scenes and you go to the next chapter. So, instead of continuing to the questions arose, Jodie is shown as a small girl in some Lab.
‘Beyond: Two Souls’ is apparently a movie about a girl and 15 years of her life as a girl, in her early teens and as a matured girl. Though here is where the frustration arises. Her life isn’t shown in a continuous order. One time you are a CIA agent in Arab country, other moment you are a small girl playing in her house. And this continues for the rest of the game. It becomes really hard to keep track of things.
As Jodie, you get to do some exciting things, such as drive a motor cycle, play with dolls, fetch the cooking oil container from the garage (who keeps oil container in a garage?), shut down portals, play guitar, help a pregnant woman give birth to a baby ( yes, I am not kidding!). Aiden on the other hand can break glasses, open doors, possess people and kill / steal documents, or even kill the bad guys by choking them to death. Though, you cannot kill or possess each and every person you come across. Blue aura indicates you just listen to them, red means you kill them and orange means you possess them.
It is difficult to choose why quantic dreams chose to do this, as it feels heavily scripted, and it’s like taking orders from them to do complete the level in the way they decided.
Gameplay is almost nonexistent since the game if filled with 80% cut scenes and 20% interaction. QTE or Quick Time Events are heavily implemented in BTS, as was the case in ‘Heavy Rain’. Though, ‘Heavy Rain’ felt much more matured than this, even if it was released 3 years ago.
The combat system is what I never got hold of. Yes, they gave training in one of the CIA camp sessions, but it is not necessary that you will remember everything, especially when you have to use them once in a while. The game slows down when you are in a combat with AI, and you need to do some hard work to remember what was taught in the CIA session. I always ended up doing the wrong thing and got beaten up. Though, even if it goes wrong, you still cross the level somehow, and it doesn’t affect your progress. When I was to duck, I always stood straight, when I had to block, I always blocked the wrong hand and so on, and still I managed to complete it. Thank you Quantic Dream!!!
Another thing which I disliked is there are absolutely no pointers or tasks that have to be completed in order to proceed. For example, Jodie has a dinner date in her apartment, and she has only one hour to get ready. I had absolutely no clue on what all had to be done in order to progress, and spent nearly 15 minutes figuring out that I had to clean up garbage, put clothes lying on the floor in the bathroom, wash utensils and so on. Similar thing happened when Jodie was asked to get oil from garage. If only they had a checklist of the things that need to be completed or tasks that need to be done, it would have really helped.
The graphics on the other hand are absolutely gorgeous. Jodie’s facial expressions are wonderful and so is Dr. Nathan (William Defoe). Tears rolling down on Jodie’s cheeks when she was left at the CIA are visually perfect. The animations in the cut scenes are really impressive, and all the rendering is done in real time on the PS3. Yes, sometimes the trees and other objects seem to have compressed textures, but overall the graphics are stunning. The level I felt which was brilliant was Navajo. It feels like you are actually in the middle of native Indians and the level has been designed well. It seems Quantic Dream has spent more of their budget developing breathtaking visualizations on the graphics than on the story line.
The voiceover done by Ellen page and William Defoe are a savior to BTS. They have done it fantastically well. It is the only thing which kept me going on till the end.