Beyond is a great game and unlike most games out now on the market, only a handful have similar offerings and the majority of that handful spawns from the same studio. Saying that, Heavy Rain fans won’t be disappointed. The game has often been dubbed ‘Ellen Page simulator’ which in some sense is true but there’s a bit more scope to it than that.
‘The gameplay comprised of QTE’s is extremely similar only a little more painful involving action moves you execute directing the main character Jodie which can end up a clumsy mess if you have difficulty reading her body movements. Quantic Dream have essentially created a new way to play with this technique which some may find is taking away player freedoms while others will enjoy the similarities to films. Beyond isn’t the Holy Grail when it comes to storytelling either. You can see David Cage’s ambition in the way he sets out to convey emotion in his characters but emotions often run too high in situations where it just feels unnatural. Some of the script also hits the ear wrong which could be a result of translation. But you can forgive Beyond for delving into unfamiliar territory and trying to accomplish movie-like production values which are rarely pushed for at this level. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe are essentially pioneers in this field and expanding art-form and actually do an excellent job acting-wise to keep the story moving. But I never felt a connection to any of the supporting cast which in Beyond, should have been extremely important. Some scenes are just magical and remind you just why you’re playing and exactly why you are investing your time in this interactive entertainment. It’s the little scenes such as having a snowball fight or roaming the streets homeless looking for money to buy food that make the game shine and what it should have concentrated more on. Instead, it drags you all around the globe and doesn’t give you a chance to keep your feet on the ground. The ending is also plagued by a similar problem.
As far as graphics go, it may very well be the best looking game on Playstation 3 minus a few technical hiccups. Lead game character models look scarily accurate even portraying pores and facial hair close up. These are uncanny valley proportions for the main characters at least. Some of the background NPC’s however, look more like they were lifted out of the previous game, Heavy Rain. Particle effects make an excellent environmental attribute really adding to certain levels with snow or fire. There are a few nagging performance issues such as FPS hits and screen tearing during certain scenes but it’s nothing too serious. Especially achieving so much on such old hardware. Sound design is good throughout. I didn’t really notice any repeated dialogue that I always found in Heavy Rain and everything sounds crisp and clear. A game such as this begs the question whether we are actually playing a game or are we just acting a scene that David Cage is forcing us to play. It’s both in essence, we are essentially controlling Ellen Page around a set full of boundaries, and it can feel a little restrictive at times giving you only one path to follow. You might not want to be told to complete a task for example but you have to follow the instructions you’re given in order for the scene to progress. You either love David Cage’s work or you don’t. The game emphasises on Cage’s ability as a story-teller even more so and has you pondering whether it’s time for someone else at Quantic Dream to be given the chance to take the reins or rather Mr Marmite has just had a rather hit and miss project in Beyond.
Whatever opinion you have on Beyond, you have to consider how remarkable technology is getting to be able to create a project such as this, even on old hardware. And just what it means for the future.
Even looking at all the problems Beyond has, you have to admire that it’s completely different and an extremely refreshing experience to most other games on the market. If you’re a fan of Heavy Rain, you are recommended to pick this up but don’t go in expecting absolute perfection.
Beyond: Two Souls is available now exclusive to Playstation 3