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Beyond: Two Souls Review

Beyond: Two Souls Review

Over the years, Quantic Dream has been working on their own their own video game model. It’s a model that merges the experience of playing a video game with the experience of watching a film and it’s been rather successful – just look at Heavin Rain. For their next title, Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream are looking to take this approach to the next level and in many ways they succeed, but it doesn’t quite have the same impact.

Beyond tells the story of a girl named Jodie whose unusual connection with a spirit named Aiden brings her a lot of attention, both good and bad. Aiden is tethered to Jodie, but has a mind of his own. Should Jodie ask Aiden to do something for him, he’ll do so, however, there are times where Aiden will act on his own accord. For example, if Jodie begins dating someone and Aiden doesn’t approve of the pairing, he will do anything in order to scare that person away regardless of what Jodie says or does. This causes a lot of grief for Jodie and helps to develop a love/hate relationship between the two.

With their properties, Quantic Dream is no stranger to strong female leads. With Heavy Rain there was Madison Paige, a daring photojournalist, and Lauren Winter, a brave estranged mother. It's no wonder that Jodie fits the mold quite nicely. Jodie tackles homelessness, gets chased by the CIA and takes on a range of hostile entities. And we’d be lying if we said that was even half of what she has to go through. Ellen Page's performance as Jodie is fantastic and it's almost surreal seeing her as a video game character. Her sincerity brings you closer to Jodie and her relationship with Aiden, who you never actually hear.

Due to Page’s strong performance, the supporting cast does take a bit of a backseat in Beyond. Although Willem Dafoe’s role is appreciated, it feels his character could have featured a lot more. The relationship between Nathan and Jodie is genuine, but there just didn’t feel like enough focus. The same can be said about the other supporting cast members, but it does make sense given the story the game ends up with.

One of the most important aspects about the story is how many messages there are. This ranges from how Jodie is treated by kids her own age, but also how feeling of desperation creeps in. It asks the question, what is the lowest point in a person’s life before they decide enough is enough? These themes mesh quite well with the game’s overarching theme of choice. What consequences are connected to our actions? Do you take revenge on people who have wronged you or do you just walk away?

Despite all this, one of the confusing elements is how the story is structured. It makes sense when you understand why it’s been done, but it does end up feeling a bit disjointed as you play through. One minute you could be playing as an 8 year old and the next you’re 20. This approach does create an interesting puzzle though. As you play, you develop perceptions about people and what you think their motives are, but these perceptions can easily change. Characters who you liked initially, may not be as great as you once thought they were and vice versa.

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