Tom Plays: Beyond Two Souls (PS4)

They’re coming thick and fast now, another edition of Tom Plays – another Quantic Dream title this time as Beyond Two Souls gets the ‘thingstomtypes’ treatment. Read on for my thoughts on this excellent game.

Yep, it’s another Quantic Dream title (following on from my Tom Plays on Heavy Rain – check that out here if you haven’t already) on my blog but that’s because I purchased the double-pack collection thingy that gives you both that and this game; for just over £20, it seemed like a bargain and, considering how much I have enjoyed both games, I’d consider it money well spent. Plus there’s tonnes of replay value in both, which just makes it even more of a worthwhile purchase.

So, anyway, Beyond Two Souls is YET ANOTHER game that was on the Playstation 3 that I never got to play but heard things about. I mean, it’s a game that has big name movie stars Willem Dafoe and one of my many movie star crushes Ellen Page (good job I didn’t get those two muddled up…) involved as the two main characters. Page featured prominently in all the game’s media and promotional materials, so it instantly got my attention. What can I say?

Two big-name Hollywood stars fronting a video game? Sometimes you’re lucky to get one big-name person involved in a videogame but two, fair play to the developers. I read they were the only people they wanted for the project so even more kudos for getting them both involved. No doubt it cost a lot of money…

Sarcasm aside, the presence of Dafoe and Page in the game gives it a feel of your actually playing an actual movie that’s disguised as a video game. It’s of no surprise to see that it was only the second time that the Tribeca Film Festival (a big deal in the film biz, apparently) allowed it to be premiered there back in 2013 when it originally was released on the Playstation 3. The other game it allowed was the underrated L.A. Noire, in case you were wondering/didn’t know.

Fast-forward to now though and I got to experience the game for the first time on the Playstation 4 as a remastered version of the game. Might look a bit shinier and things like that, again I have no comparison so I’ll believe it.

One thing new with the Playstation 4 version of the game was the option to be able to play the game in chronological order – as opposed to the nonlinear narrative which it was originally played out in.

I was sorely tempted to play it that way but I was glad that I opted to go with the muddled-up timeline and, though it seemed weird and confusing to one moment be a young child version of Jodie and then the next you’re a homeless fugitive on the run from the CIA – yep, this would be a perfect time to use that ‘boy, that escalated quickly’ meme – it was how the story was meant to be played out, so I stuck with that way.

Of course that makes for recalling moments from the story that bit more difficult, so I guess I’ll have to talk about the game in more general terms rather than specifying exact points in the game’s narrative.

So, the main idea behind Beyond Two Souls is that you’re controlling both Jodie and a mysterious entity called Aiden – how the pair came to be “paired” wasn’t revealed until right near the end of the game and was a plot twist that I didn’t expect. So I guess I should give the writer some props for that then.

Aiden is a fascinating character to control – only Jodie can see him, allowing you to mess with the heads of other characters by knocking things over. Endless fun…sometimes. There’s a more sinister side to Aiden as well in parts as you can choose to hurt people and, though Jodie pleads with you not to, you can ignore her and just carry on being a dick. I did. A few times. Sorry. Not sorry.

Beyond Two Souls can be played through a lot of different ways – yes, another ‘choice’ game that I’ve suddenly became very fond of (I’d blame Life is Strange for that if I was bothered about it, but I am not) and it would be interesting to go back through the game and try to play it out a different way next time.

Have to admit, there were some moments where I was unable to do what the game asked me to do and I was in the small percentage of people who failed it. Oops. So that already gives the game some more replayability…unless I continue to fail at the part and I’ll never be able to experience the good side of the decision that I always fail to get.

The games’ story, whilst confusing in its muddled delivery, isn’t too hard to get into and I found myself once again immersed in the game and feeling good/bad about the decisions I was making Jodie make. Like one chapter as a child, you get to go to a party – the other kids are cruel towards Jodie so I used Aiden to get my revenge on the little bastards.

Sadly I was unaware that you could burn the house down with them in it…had I been aware that was a scenario you could play out, you’re damn right I would have done it! Nobody locks Ellen Page under the stairs and gets away with it!

The game does a good job of moving the story along by usage of ‘chapters’ – some are short and sweet, others are time-consuming with lots more to find and do in them. I prefer the longer ones as they tended to be a lot more interesting than the short ones which didn’t consist of much.

Throughout Beyond Two Souls, you have some tough decisions to make and the storyline has some very dark and emotional moments sprinkled throughout. Saying that, thinking back, there’s a lot of dark themes in the game and hard-hitting choices that could lead to the death of many of the characters you meet along the way.

Perhaps the toughest decision comes right at the end of the game – you basically have a choice to either go ‘Beyond’ or head back to life and live out the remaining years of Jodie’s life with either one of the people you’ve met along the way or alone.

Whatever combination of people survive/die during the playthrough of the game brings with it a different ending to the game – there are 11 different endings and all are tied more to who survives rather than the decisions you make in the game; though I guess they’re kind of decisions you make anyway because you can either choose to save some or let others die. Depends how much of a twat you want to feel.

One of the endings you can get sounds proper bleak – have everyone you meet die…and then fail the endgame so badly that Jodie also dies along with civilisation. Brutal. But, hey, it gets you one step closer to getting a Platinum trophy…so…

Final thoughts on Beyond Two Souls because I’ve seemed to ramble on an awful lot so far – again, I have to say that I enjoyed the playthrough immensely. The story was good and gripping, the characters were brilliantly acted (but what do you expect when Hollywood stats get involved?) and the game had none of the technical gremlins that plagued ‘Heavy Rain’.

It’s certainly by no means a perfect game though – the Quicktime Events in the game couldn’t seem to be failed no matter how bad you were at them…and, boy, I was terrible at a fair few of the fighting ones! Well, aside from the very last one, you can fail that one and get the worst Bad ending imaginable.

Have to say though, I never once felt bored playing the game. I enjoyed playing through the game and would happily play again at some point to try to right the wrongs of my first playthrough.

Another satisfying video game experience from the Playstation 4.

T.

 

 

 

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