Reviews: Beyond Two Souls

Immersive, but Frustrating

I have yet to play Heavy Rain or Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy (at least until their PS4 release), but Beyond: Two Souls feels very similar to the descriptions people have of its predecessors. I found myself getting pulled into the story in a way few games have done, but I didn't like how the gameplay was handled.

I often misread the visual cues necessary to accurately do the quick time events, causing a variety of bad outcomes (and then when the chapter was over, I got tormented by the screen announcing I was in the ~20% of players that messed up the gameplay). Even outside the quick time events, the controls often felt awkward and I often didn't know what the game wanted me to do. Despite the aforementioned problems, the gameplay did help the game's immersion. Being able to make Jodie hug a stuffed animal, drink a soda, play the guitar, or look out a window made me feel very involved in the minutia of the story in a way few games can effectively pull off. Actions taken by Aiden not only affect the story, but Jodie herself, preventing moments of controlling Aiden from feeling like a mini-game. The one-take approach to the game made every mistake or bad decision I made feel even worse since I knew I was stuck with whatever wrong call I made. Much of the gameplay could have been done better, but it does a good job of making the player feel very involved in everything that happens.

I found all the characters interesting and compelling. Jodie's experiences with them were effectively framed so that the player can easily form relationships with them, greatly improving the last third of the story. I loved the plot initially, but eventually, the game stopped being about experiencing moments of Jodie's life and focused on moving the story forward. The cinematic design of the game makes it really immersive even if some events feel a little contrived. The PS4 graphics were excellent and I liked the voice acting.

I enjoyed Beyond: Two Souls, but I have a hard time recommending it without caveats. If you can't stand But Thou Must or bad controls, I'd recommend staying away. On the other hand, if you don't like the lack of immersion in many story-driven video games, consider giving this one a try. There aren't too many games quite like it.
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