Leading up to and surrounding the release of Beyond: Two Souls there were very mixed opinions across the board about various elements of the game. Most notable of which were regarding the so-called clunky controls and schizophrenic nature to the story telling that developer Quantic Dream decided to use. It was these mixed opinions from trusted sources that caused me to start thinking twice about making the purchase for myself after having decided months ago that it was a definite buy. After much deliberation I finally ‘took the plunge’ and picked it up a week after its initial release.
I knew Beyond: Two Souls was going to be an experience more-so than anything else after the roller-coaster ride that was Heavy Rain all those years ago, so I made it an event. I got comfortable, turned out the light and made sure my beer was close by. After a couple of hours had passed and I had experienced a large portion of what the game had to offer I realised that I had no qualms with any of the questionable elements of the game what-so-ever.
The character controls of Heavy Rain that asked you to hold the right trigger to walk whilst navigating your direction with the thumbstick have been thrown out this time around for the more traditional thumbstick navigation that requires you to push the left thumbstick in the direction you want the character to move, whilst using the right thumbstick for camera movement. Surely this is a step forward for Quantic Dream with Beyond in the modern era of gaming that’s filled with third and first-person action-adventures that favour a similar control scheme for a generation of gamers that are more than comfortable with it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say that the character navigation is perfect by any means but for a game that doesn’t hinge on it, it does the job and serves its purpose.
Another popular area of debate is the way Quantic Dream have decided to tell the story of the main protagonist, Jodie. Rather than tell the story in chronological order Quantic has opted for a method that jumps randomly to an event in Jodie’s life before jumping to the next. One minute you’re Jodie in her teens, the next your Jodie as a seven year old and so on, and so on. Now it’s not as if there is no context for this decision by Quantic as the game begins with Jodie talking about how she got to the point that she’s currently at and how all of the events in her life up to that point are so muddled in her head that the current moment might as well be where it all began for her. Personally I enjoyed the so-called ‘schizophrenic’ way that Quantic have told Jodie’s story as it kept me on my feet and made me think about the order in which the events occurred. You are aided with this by a timeline that appears during loading sections that is filled in as you progress through the story.
Much as I did with the controls I would like to stress that Beyond: Two Souls is not perfect as a whole by any means. Maybe the argument can be made that I knew the game wasn’t going to be perfect going in and therefore wasn’t expecting too much from it although I thoroughly enjoyed it and would put it up there with some of the best story-driven experiences out there. I just feel as though Beyond is being picked apart unfairly in areas that it doesn’t deserve to be judged so harshly on. If anything there were multiple moments throughout the story that made me sigh and wish that the moment had been tackled in a slightly more convincing way but they didn’t stop the overall experience from being extremely enthralling. Beyond was a thoroughly thrilling experience that made me feel a handful of emotions and held my attention at every turn.