Beyond: Two Souls is a game that follows the life of Jodie Holmes (Ellen Page), a girl who has a permanent connection with an unknown entity named Aiden. The game consists of 24 chapters taking place during different periods of Jodies life. We see the struggles of her growing up with her ‘gift’, including the great things they can achieve and the not so great consequences. We travel through many different settings and environments in many different situations. The game falls into the interactive movie category with elements of action, adventure and a little bit of stealth set in some environments the size of a room, and others in quite open worlds. Ultimately though, this is completely a character and story driven game.
I would say the main genre is sci-fi but there are bits of literally almost every genre included in places. Most prominently are the drama, supernatural and horror with some mystery, thriller, spy-thriller, political and even a bit of western. It felt like a mashup of the Sixth Sense, Resident Evil, Edge of Tomorrow, Titanic, James Bond and many many more examples that won’t come to my head but you will know what I mean when you play it. Each chapter has its own feel. The variety means that, chances are, there is a part that you will love and a part that you don’t so much. I personally enjoyed the quieter chapters more than the action heavy ones but others may disagree. I hadn’t realised before I started that there was a touch of horror to it, I was playing in bed at night in the dark all alone and suddenly I SHAT myself! It’s not by any means a horror game but I think you need to be aware if you are a big wimp like me. Don’t let it put you off though! It’s mainly one chapter and you’ll know which one I mean when you get to it. It’s not so bad it just seriously creeped me out.
Gameplay was quite basic. Walk around and interact with the environment whenever there is a white dot. Press certain buttons as instructed. The combat was strange. When fighting the movement would turn to slow motion and you had to move in the direction that Jodie was already going. That got confusing at times. Sometimes I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, sometimes I didn’t know if I’d done it right or wrong, but either way I didn’t see too many consequences for getting it wrong the odd time. Jodie is played in third person but you can also switch to Aiden most of the time by pressing triangle. Aiden is played in first person and is attached to Jodie by a spiritual cord which restricts the distance you can go with him. He can float through (most) walls, floors, doors, ceilings and can go some places where Jodie can’t. He’s very useful, whether its scouting the area, breaking doors, controlling people or just causing trouble. Combat using Aiden was a bit confusing at times as well as sometimes you couldn’t see what you were doing but it was still easy enough. You have to be quite quick to make dialogue decisions otherwise it will choose something for you. The Graphics were stunning and the music was great. The pacing was a bit weird, I understand why they did it the way they did, it eases you into the combat and the story and creates some mystery. It probably wouldn’t have worked as well chronologically but it just felt a little clunky at times.
I feel like it’s inevitable to compare Beyond to Heavy Rain – same devs, same interactive movie style – however I also feel like they cannot be compared. They share their own genre away from FPS or RPGs but they are also nothing alike. Beyond is supernatural fantasy story following one girl for 15 years where as Heavy Rain is a murder mystery thriller following 4 different people for around 4 days. Heavy Rain was my personal favourite, it was more my genre and I feel like I was more attached to more of the characters than I was in Beyond. I also didn’t feel there were as many choices in this game. It was more dialogue changes than anything else so I didn’t agonize over my decisions like I did in Heavy Rain, or even Until Dawn for that matter. However, the game made up for it in its own way. While I was playing I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t completely gripped like I was with Heavy Rain, that might be because there isn’t a clear aim. In Heavy Rain you are on the path to finding the boy and identifying the serial killer – we know what the end goal is. Where as in Beyond it just felt like we were filling in the blanks jumping between gaps without the full intrigue of what’s going to happen. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t like it as much during my play-through. I did enjoy the payoff though. While I was playing I couldn’t see that there was going to be a payoff moment like THAT moment in Heavy Rain. But I was wrong. I didn’t see it coming but when it did, I just started crying like a baby. I love when there’s a twist that you don’t see coming but it smacked me right in the feels, I was so emotional. The second game in a row I’ve completed that made me cry (the first was Red Dead Redemption).
So overall, I wouldn’t say that if you loved Heavy Rain you will love this game, or if you loved this game you will love Heavy Rain. They are so different tonally, stylistically and narratively. However, if you enjoy the continuous, no ‘game over’, story focused, character driven, follow your instincts, choice making, multiple endings style then you will probably enjoy both games for different reasons like I did. I personally adore the Interactive Movie games and I cannot wait for more in the future.
As far as replayability is concerned, its a little bit slow. The full story is around 10 hrs long. Once I finished I decided I wanted the platinum trophy and worked out that it would take me another one and a half playthroughs to get them all. Once you finish there is a chapter selection page where they are all in chronological order and you can choose where to go back to. Don’t assume that you will play them in chronological order though. The prologue is near the end chronologically but expect to have to play all the chapters again if you choose it. I think the main trophy path is going to be the same for everyone, do your first playthrough on your own. Then go back as far as you need to to change the ending. Once you’ve done that play through again from the beginning getting the rest of the trophies in the process. If you have still missed any after that you can go back to the relevant chapter and mop them up.
A hint for everyone if you are looking to get platinum. Play your first play-through in Duo mode. Then if the trophy doesn’t pop you can do it again on your next play-through. I have every trophy except the Duo mode one yet I played the full game in Duo mode on my second play-through. It will have to wait though because three full play-throughs is a bit much. I did enjoy spending more time in the games universe but it was still very tedious. For the Seen All Endings trophy you have to play the final chapter at least 5 times and watch through the whole epilogue and credits at least 9 times. And it’s not short. I did find the message at the end of the credits touching though. I enjoyed the action scenes a lot more the second time around, probably because I knew what to expect. Basically, on your second play-through it will feel a lot slower, so it’s worth having a break and coming back to the game a while later.
Overall, I would recommend this game, especially to people that are new to gaming. It has a Duo mode where one person can play as Jodie and one can play as Aiden so I would also recommend it to couples and friends. Don’t expect a constant fast paced thrill ride but do expect a nice enjoyable story and just go with the flow. I was blown away at the end. Don’t read any spoilers on the internet, don’t even read the trophies, just play with your instincts and see where it gets you, that’s how these games are supposed to be played.
SPOILERS AHEAD – ONLY READ ON IF YOU HAVE PLAYED THE FULL GAME
I just like to express my opinions and thoughts when I’ve finished a game but don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. Read on at your peril!
My first play-through went as follows – Homeless people survived. Paul died (I only realised when we were performing the ritual that I should have healed him previously. I literally shouted ‘SHIT’ out loud when I realised). Mercy killed Norah. Ryan lost his eye. No romances. Cole and Ryan survived. I chose life with Ryan. I didn’t even like Ryan (more on that below) but I felt like she deserved to be with someone and I felt sorry for him only having one eye.
Like I mentioned before, I got really emotional at the end, specifically when we found out who Aiden was. It seems so obvious I don’t know why I didn’t think of it but I absolutely love it. I wish I had a camera to see my expression when I realised who he was. It explained everything. It shows why he is so protective over her, massacring the men who tried to rape her and not wanting her to date. Protective brother. I got emotional for a second time at her having to live without him. I found it heartbreaking. Imagine how alone you would feel if you’ve always had someone there, every second of every day, and then they were gone. That got to me, there’s no worse feeling than loss. Then, as the epilogue went on, it got me again. Just those words ‘Still here’ spoke so much. Even though he isn’t connected to her he is still there watching over her. Oh the tears. What a perfect ending.
Again like I said above, I wasn’t as connected with the characters in Beyond as I was in Heavy Rain. I really liked Nathan. I have only ever seen Willem Dafoe play baddies – the Green Goblin in Spiderman, the creepy villain in Speed 2 and the jerk writer in The Fault in our Stars – so I got a surprise when he was playing a good guy and he completely won me over. I loved him, thought he was a great father figure and that they were doing a great job raising her. Then the end happened. I can’t believe he turned psycho! I was so disappointed. I understand that grief does things to you but he should know better than anyone that doing what he did could end the world. On my second playthrough I couldn’t bring myself to like him. Knowing what I now know, I could see that the whole time after his family died he was just using Jodie to get to them. He had no regard for the consequences, it wasn’t just his wife and daughter that he was hurting, he was encouraging the governments research and ultimately sacrificing our world and the infraworld. If he had only realised he would be with them again when he died himself. With all of this I really started to like Cole. He raised her even more than Nathan did, came to her aid when she needed him and was fully prepared to sacrifice himself to save the world. What a guy.
Ryan was an absolute douchebag. Even though I ended my game with him I didn’t think they were a great match at all. He did redeem himself a tiny bit near the end but I still don’t think he is a good person. He was an asshat when he first met Jodie, treating her like shit at a difficult time, then he has a date with her and leaves when she gets upset, then he lies to her, he wants to leave the rift open, he wants to leave the other rift open, he wants to leave Cole behind, he doesn’t instantly give her his containment belt, he continually tries to make a pass at Jodie despite doing nothing to win her affection. However, at the end I chose him because Jodie has lost Aiden, she’s never been alone in her life, I thought she still deserved to have someone. Jay was also a bit of an ass (although I did think the ranch life suited her and she needed to reunite with Ashkii), I didn’t realise who Zoey was the first time (loved the ending with the homeless gang but thought it felt a bit forced that Zoey had gifts) and alone just didn’t feel right (after watching it though, alone is by far my favourite ending, I adore the dialogue). Seeing Ryan sat on the floor waiting to die saying ‘I love you Jodie’ pulled at my heartstrings, even though it was so incredibly unrealistic and they had no romance in my playthrough. Punching the general guy and having one eye helped his cause too.
One other thing this game did other than make me emotional was make me annoyed about real life issues. If the Infraworld was real this is exactly what would happen. Upon discovery, people’s first line of thought isn’t ‘how can we protect it?’ but ‘how can we weaponise it?’. Who cares on the impact this has on our world or theirs, let’s attempt to use it to our advantage. Oops we’ve destroyed everything. We should have left it alone while preserving and protecting it. Yeah right who is going to pay for that. I truly feel like this is such an accurate adaptation of what would happen in the event of us discovering the Infraworld.
Something that I loved was this interpretation of the afterlife. No God. No Devil. No heaven. No hell. I am not religious and do not believe in an afterlife but if I did then this is how I would imagine it. It’s my favourite idea of an afterlife that I have ever seen or read. Ever. I love the fact that there are rifts between the two worlds. You can’t force spirits to come back, doing so causes problems, but there are lost souls all around waiting for their loved ones or trying to make right what was wrong. Jodies description of the beyond was brilliant and the creativity of it is great. I seriously love it, I would read a book about it if they wanted to expand their world.
Lastly, I loved the little details throughout the game, one particular example was in the Norah level. I snuck into some of the other rooms in the mental hospital as Aiden. One of the patients could actually see him! Others were having little breakdowns or sitting quietly but I loved this little touch. Something you could have missed if you don’t procrastinate as much as I do.
And one last complaint – I just wish Jodie could have been nicer to Aiden sometimes, saying please goes a long way! Overall, I enjoyed the universe and the story but don’t feel the need for a sequel. At some points it did seem like they were trying to cram everything they could possibly fit into one game – every weather, every terrain, every genre- at first I thought it was a bad move and felt too stuffed but it grew on me. I will replay in a few months, maybe with a friend to get the final trophy, either way it was definitely worth the £8 that I bought it for.
What did you think of the game? What choices did you make? Were you satisfied?