Sunday, October 13, 2013

Beyond Two Souls Review: A Trip to the Otherside (Contains light spoilers)

Beyond Two Souls - A Trip to the Otherside
Originally Copyrighted and Published by Blast Away the Game Review on 10/13/2013
Review by Dustin Murphy

Reviewers Note: Please note before reading this, the review may contain some spoilers, and could possibly make some gamer's stray from playing this game, but nothing pertaining to a full blown story mess up.

  • Displays the true raw power of the Sony PlayStation 3 with this games graphics engine
  • Amazing story that will not leave any players with questions remaining
  • Controls that can at first be a bit of a challenge for some, but can easily be learned
  • Multiple endings, allowing for a great reason to revisit the game
  • Some of the best acting seen from names such as Ellen Page, Willem Dafoe, Eric Winter, and Kadeem Hardison.
  • A seamless blend of video clip and game play.
  • The ability to select chapters so that players can revisit each ending as needed, which is nice. To choose a ending scenario, players will need to revisit "Black Sun" chapter.
  • Cooperative mode, which allows one player to assume the role of Aiden, unfortunately I've not gotten to try this out with another player, just myself.

  • At times it can seem a bit difficult to figure out what direction needed for right thumb stick interactions.
  • Needs a sound setting for surround sound, stereo, or headphones. 
  • The plot at times can be lost among all the side story chapters, but comes full circle somewhere, and leads to a satisfactory ending.

Overall Rating: 9.75 out of 10

Final Thoughts: When it came to choosing this game, it was not a hard choice thanks to Quantic Dream having games such as Fahrenheit Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, and now Beyond Two Souls under their belt. Much like the previous two, players will be able to choose their endings, their decisions, and discover an amazingly fascinating world. This is truly a game that shows what the future of gaming can expect from a written script, acting, story, and of course graphically. With Academy Award Nominees such as Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, this game portrays a story unlike any other, and for some - that's just enough. Ellen Page as the lead lady has put her best with this, returning to a prime example of what acting is, and taking as her own. Quantic Dream has once more amazed the gaming world with such a well developed title and hopefully this is one all PS3 owners get their hands on. We hope to see them collaborate with some if not all these actors in the future.

A Display of Aiden's raw power.

 When it came to Beyond Two Souls having been announced at E3 2012, it was not hard to stare in awe at the television screen as the feed of the games trailer came across screen. All that came to mind was that the game itself is beautiful, and by beautiful; realistic. From characters animations to how the actors are portrayed, it was easy to see that Quantic Dream once more would display a story unlike any other, especially being written by David Cage. 

  Beyond Two Souls takes us on the journey of Jodie Holmes (Page, Juno and her new film The East; now showing), who is raised by Dr. Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe, The Hunter and upcoming film Out of the Furnace) and her mentor Dr. Cole Freeman (Kadeem Hardison, Zerosome and White Man Can't Jump), a girl with a very special power, something that none had ever seen before. At a young age Jodie was able to discover her power through moments of anger, sadness, and the need for protection as something was out to get her in the dead of night. Be it spirits, creatures from the beyond, or even other people, Jodie displayed a special attribute that none had ever seen; Aiden. The question was quick to show itself to me as I played through, wondering how each of my reactions to situations would be displayed, much like we've seen with previous Quantic Dream titles. In one situation we were are presented with Jodie as a teenager who wants to go out to see her friends, in turn she throws a temper tantrum, which means so does our mysterious entity; Aiden. In the scene we get to use Aiden to thrash her room, break surveillance equipment, and of course make a general mess of things like any teenage woman would if they were kept to seclusion because of their gift. In this instance we are given the ability to see how Aiden truly responds to her feelings, how it protects her, and how it looks out for her by their shared link. After the scene moves on we get to see her go to a bar in an attempt to be a normal teenage girl, and unfortunately the scene that unfolds can be good or bad, based on your decisions once you take over as Aiden. This can be seen as reflections later on in the game, giving an idea of how much detail they paid attention to something, which is truly astonishing.

Military missions for the CIA such as this prove to be interesting and well balanced

  In the game though we do not just see her story as an adult, instead her story is told through multiple aspects as an adult, teenager, little girl, baby, and the in-between moments that give us a true depth of her life, which gives players a sort of emotional attachment to her character. In parts of the story players will find themselves using Aiden as a distraction from flickering likes, to moving objects, clear to possessing guards or outright killing them. If possible I had always chosen for the lesser of the two evils as I wanted to see how difficult the game could get this way, and in truth - it got too hard at times. Aiden at times can truly be more useful than anything, but unfortunately Aiden is limited in movement range, this alone makes hunting for "soul essence" type hidden items hard when going through large areas of exploration. These extras will give players more insight as to what happened in the game. Think of these "essences" as a a hidden journal or log in a game to expand the story.

 After having been running through a very well written campaign, it was time to revisit the game to find the bad of it, which honestly was hard to do - except for one thing. Players looking to try and do a speed play-through or skip video clips will find themselves having a hard time, this was not implemented in the game, and can provide a bit of a headache. The other is of course as the before mentioned limited range of movement that Aiden has, it seems as if the developers took into count the idea that perhaps players would be limited with how far they would go away, this could be due to the idea Jodie gets headaches if he gets to far away, and to keep that relevant in the story. The other issues that popped up was in fight scenes, high movement scenes, and of course the moments where I had to quickly transition between Jodie and Aiden. These transitions can at times be almost mind boggling when needing to find emergency action commands through Aiden and can provide at times a bit of a headache, which takes this masterpiece apart at times.

 The other part? Controls, lets touch up on these with the fighting scenes I mentioned earlier. When in the fights players will be prompted in some form based on an enemies motions or by quick commands based on Jodie's movements. These actions can truly lead up to a bit of a frustrating time if not careful, and at times can also get Jodie killed, it is cautioned to take your time and get used to them. 

One of the many walks of life players will experience Jodie take as the game unfolds.

 With what little I can say was bad about the game, it goes to show that Quantic Dream was not focusing on letting an untested, half-worked product go out the door, and this shows with the soundtrack even thanks to composers Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2) and Lorne Balfe (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Assassins Creed III, and The Bible with Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard), the music itself has been orchestrated perfectly to push the emotions the characters are feeling and of course match the high quality sound effects used in the game. 

  It's hard to truly sit down and review this game as it is so much like a movie gamer's will find themselves checking their clocks more often than not thanks to the very well written script, the amazingly orchestrated score, as well as the profound performances by each of the respected actors, actresses, and of course motion capture actors in the studio. Of course the team behind the game themselves can not be left out of saying a job well done and we hopefully can expect more from this title. It truly looks as if a series could ride forth from this title. For those of you wanting a very well written story, casting for characters, beautiful graphics, and a theater like experience, you will not be disappointed with the latest project to come out of Quantic Dream. Well done guys, well done. This could truly be the game that shows that Hollywood style performances and gaming can share a medium and truly create something profoundly charming, emotionally engaging, and heart throbbing life-like.

Graphics: It is hard not to say this games graphics stand out, because they do. With top-notch motion capture, acting, and location design, the artists behind this game give us what identifies itself as the most realistic game of this generation thanks to the technology powering it.

Sound: When it comes to music, sound effects, voice casting, and of course voice effects, I was not surprised by this title being as close to real as it could be. The only let down was the inability to set it to surround sound so I could experience it from each direction around me, but thanks to the compatibility to the Sony Pulse Elites; I was not disappointed with this cinematic experience.

Controls: Like any interactive movie as some would call it, the controls did take a bit of adjusting to, and that's simply because of how it is set up. The game is set up so that players will learn the simple queues needed for controlling both Jodie and Aiden.

Official Twitter: @Beyond2SoulsPS3

Official Website: Beyond: Two Souls

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