Beyond: Two Souls review

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  • joseph-blower - October 13, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    Your mileage may vary, but for me, the game is transcendent. It transcends both video games and movies to become something greater than either medium would ever be by themselves. I'm an avid gamer (I have 400+ Steam games, 400+ iOS games, and 100+ console games). Yet--to speak for myself--*I* found this game far more moving, thought-provoking, meaningful, and entertaining than many other games (including Super Mario Galaxy 1-2, Grand Theft Auto 4-5, The Last of Us, and others). I can only compare it to Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead, or the Metal Gear Solid series: deep rich stories that have themes and messages that convey something of lasting meaning; something beyond the mindless (but fun) shooting and platforming of other titles. I will remember this game for years to come. There are few works of fiction of any medium for which I can say the same. If you like a rich deep story line and don't care about a lack of "agency" (it's always illusory in video games, anyway--there are always incredibly restrictive rules on game play), then this is *the* game of the seventh generation. The comparably minor errors in execution and direction can be ignored, when viewed in light of the whole. Indeed, the question of whether this qualifies as a game is, like Dear Ester, a largely irrelevant and pedantic: It entertains. It provokes thought. It is emotionally moving. And it illustrates that games--like cinema or literature--can be taken seriously as a medium to both entertain and enlighten. It seems to me that most reviewers of this game have profoundly and tragically missed the point. I've tentatively come to the conclusion that most people who dislike Beyond do so because they cannot (or will not) accept the game on its own terms: They have certain expectations of video games, and deviation from well-established norms vexes them. So, for instance, they demand interactivity, even when accepting passivity allows a far more compelling and moving narrative. In contrast, other people are more flexible (with regards to their expectations of the medium). For instance, the "passivity" of playing Beyond did not bother me in the slightest. I knew what I was getting into, and I knew it was worth the tradeoff: there has been only one other title in forty years of gaming history that provides an experience comparable to Beyond: Two Souls, and it was released three years ago (Heavy Rain). I believe that many reviewers, given their larger than average exposure to the medium are even less tolerant that other players of certain deviations from gameplay norms. This, I think, explains the large divergence of opinions on metacritic, and the (to me) inconceivably low average the game currently has (a mere 73 for the professionals, and 78 for gamers). Like the criticism that the game strips the player of freedom/agency, I do not think the others have merit: I consider the script to be impeccable. I have noticed no plot holes, and very few problems with the dialogue. It is telling that David Cage took a year of 12-14-hour days to write it and that it is 2000 pages in length. I consider Page's acting to be truly and deeply awe-inspiring. I cannot praise her highly enough. She memorized 30-40 pages of dialogue each day. She had very little time to prepare and rehearse. She often had to juggle different emotional responses to the situations (e.g., playing the part one way in a scene and playing it another way in the same scene). Yet, despite these challenges, her acting is consistently of the highest professional quality. I have noticed no flaws in her performance; it is (along with William Dafoe's performance) very much in keeping with her Academy Award for Best Actress. I consider her to be the most talented actress I've seen. I also think that the myriad ad hominem attacks against David Cage seem entirely unwarranted. He does not try to impose his views on others. Rather, he is merely passionate, has a vision he believes in, and is outspoken in his beliefs. He believes that gaming can, like cinema or literature, change the world (or try to). This is not arrogant; it is noble. Moreover, the game has other strengths that seem to be overlooked by many: - The social commentary is entirely warranted, and appropriately biting. - The graphical quality of the game is the best of any on a console. - The story is incredibly moving and thought-provoking. The narrative was very easy for me to follow, despite the non-chronological presentation. - There is a wide range of different locales and gameplay dynamics employed. To put it succinctly (and a little melodramatically): For me, the game is both a reminder and illustration of the many challenges and the triumphs, the sadnesses and joys that life has to offer. For me, it's life affirming, and I consider it deep, rich and meaningful. There are almost no other games (and few movies and books, for that matter) for which I can say the same. Take a chance: play this game.
  • Shinn - October 10, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    There are too many quick time events and way too many 'mash this button to make this happen' things for me. The story and choices are kinda cool so far, but there's almost no actual gameplay. I'm guessing things will pick up soon, but the game just doesn't do any of those things well enough for me to like it as I liked the walking dead.
  • EvilWaterman - October 9, 2013 2:44 a.m.

    Sounds like a riveting gaming experience...............not.
  • shawksta - October 8, 2013 5:27 p.m.

    So its basically Heavy Rain 2.0? Nothing really bad honestly, Heavy Rain was neat
  • Darkhawk - October 8, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    This is an embarrassingly poorly written review. I see from the Editor's Note that it's already been "fixed up" a bit, which is just a shame since it's still riddled with grammatical errors and poor explanations. For Shame, 'Radar, For Shame. Why didn't this go to David Houghton, whose review of "Heavy Rain" was the very best?
  • meg127 - October 8, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    That's about what I was expecting. I still really want to play this game, but I'm glad I made the decision to hold off on it until it gets cheaper.
  • Redeater - October 8, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    3.5 out of 5 with "The writing and plot design sometimes feels weak" as a minus. Yup. It's a Cage game alright.
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - October 8, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    The disappointment burns like river Styx. I was hoping for an emotional story that bears down on me with the weight of 900 thousand breeks.
  • shawksta - October 8, 2013 5:28 p.m.

    You say River Styx with feelings of 900 thousand breeks I hear River Twygz and i think of this goddamn music
  • shawksta - October 8, 2013 5:28 p.m.

    Whoops, forgot the link
  • FriedPi - October 8, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    I did love Heavy Rain and I'm sure I'll enjoy this as well, but as a budget-conscious gamer I can't justify paying full price for a few hours of entertainment. If Quantic Dreams can give me a great story with more beef and/or bigger world (I'm thinking of L.A. Noire) then I'd be happy to reward them with my gaming dollars.
  • cricket0 - October 8, 2013 3:35 p.m.

    Well from what I can gather, this game has multiple paths, and potentially multiple endings, so it would take you multiple playthroughs to get all of the content out of it, so more than a few hours worth if your willing to get the most out of the game.
  • HOOfan_1 - October 9, 2013 8 p.m.

    I read an article, where the developer stated that players should only play the game once..... Then again, I read several articles which stated that Beyond Two Souls would not be quick time based....and that is exactly what it is. I don't consider this a game at all.
  • Rhymenocerous - October 8, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    Good review. Finally a writer that picked up on the fact that decisions really do have an impact, but you may not know until you compare to someone else's experience. I expect the actions you take are less black and white (or red & blue in Mass Effect's case) than in other choose-your-own-path games. I'm willing to give this game a shot.
  • Jennero_Rossi - October 8, 2013 10:47 a.m.

    After reading the review it sounds like it is a small update to Heavy Rain.
  • TanookiMan - October 8, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    I started playing this afternoon, having never played heavy rain. I'd say this review is pretty spot on, although I must say I find the game play pretty fun, although simple. Also, it is extremely pretty!
  • StonedMagician99 - October 8, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    Honestly, I think that unless a story is told in a way that really rakes advantage of the fact that it's being told through a video game, this type of genre should just go away. Having taken turns with a friend playing through both Heavy Rain and Beyond, I can say with certainty that neither of us had all that much fun playing them. In HR, you did make meaningful choices, but the plot was badly told and even worsely (I guess that's a word) acted. In Beyond, the story was interesting and better told, but aside from a small handful of choices near the end, your decisions really do not affect the gameplay or the story in any noticeable way. Ultimately, the fact that the narratives of both games (as well as Indigo Prophecy) are almost completely linear drags them down. Also, even if the stories of all three were utterly brilliant, they would be okay EXPERIENCES, but bad GAMES. The vast majority of the gameplay of IP, HR, and Beyond consists of QTEs, making it incredibly hard to feel like you're actually in the game. In all of these games, it would be perfectly possible to play them like other games (meaning: incorporate some actual gameplay rather than just using the four face buttons). But instead, David Cage seemingly finds it impossible to bring himself to trust players, out of the fear that they'll venture even a step off the path. I dunno. They all just feel very pretentious and player-unfriendly.
  • BladedFalcon - October 8, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    Learn what pretentious means first, please. That term gets thrown around way too much these days without merit.
  • duffer00 - October 8, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    I know! People always say other things are like "biased" but it seems like every other comment throws out that word but nobody uses it correctly.
  • BladedFalcon - October 8, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    It's because the internet is filled with ignorant shitheads trying to sound smarter than they are by using words they don't even understand.

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More Info

Release date: Oct 08 2013 - PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, PS3
Genre: Other Games/Compilations
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: Quantic Dream
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending