I enjoyed the individual moments and scenarios of Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls but when I looked at how everything stitched together, I couldn’t help but wish it was more like Heavy Rain. For the second time this year, (God of War: Ascension was the first), I felt non-linear storytelling hurt a game.
It wasn’t because story was too complex to follow, in fact, I had an idea where it was headed within the first third of the game. I didn’t like the time hopping because it highlighted the fact that my choices didn’t really matter — I knew for a fact that several key characters could not die.
One of the highlights of Heavy Rain was knowing my decisions had some weight. Yes, most of those decisions forked and merged back into the same plot point but I didn’t know that during my first play through. Beyond: Two Souls didn’t even bother trying to mask that fact and I found the game suffered because of it.
Realizing my actions didn’t matter had the unintentional benefit of downplaying the importance of nailing those quick time events. In an effort to minimize the number of on screen button prompts, they decided to slow down time and have the player follow Jodie’s movements with the right thumb stick.
That would have been a fine solution if I was able to correctly read Jodie’s movements. There were plenty of moments when I thought Jodie intended to dodge rather than strike. I fumbled many encounters and watched her get pummelled numerous times because of mistakes. In the end, it didn’t matter though. The cuts that Jodie suffered never turned into bad ass scars in the long run.
So what was the point of all of following through with Beyond: Two Souls? What kept me going? Ellen Page, Willem Defoe and all the other performers. I wanted to see more of their performances and the potential wacky situations that David Cage would put them in.
I also wanted to see what mischief I could get into as the ethereal entity, Aiden. I thought the integration of Aiden was clever and felt I was making the most impact to the story as the specter. I kept hoping there was more gradation to his possible actions though. My choices usually ranged from being a nuisance or a real dick towards the living. I felt like the decision to cook something spicy was already made and I was just there to add the extra kick if I wanted to.
The cover of Beyond: Two Souls promised Willem Defoe, Ellen Page and a game experience involving two souls. The game delivered on all three but not in the way that I wanted. I believe the ideal Quantic Dream title would have been Heavy Rain with the performance talent of Beyond: Two Souls. I hope David Cage and his team learned from both titles and eventually develop something that encompassed everything he had learned thus far. I have no problems with high budget adventure games, even if they didn’t amount to much in the end.
Worth a try
For more information on Beyond: Two Souls, visit the official website.