Team up with Ellen Page for an out of body experience.
The Pitch: David Cage and his studio, Quantic Dream - of Heavy Rain fame - add some big-budget star power to their latest piece of interactive cinema, Beyond: Two Souls, which fleshes out the emotional rollercoaster of a little girl who’s able to communicate with a supernatural entity.
What It Really Is: David Cage’s extremely ambitious attempt at blurring the lines of movies and interactivity falls short on almost every front. Beyond: Two Souls follows Jodie (Ellen Page), a little girl who’s able to communicate with an other-worldly entity named Aiden, from childhood to early adulthood. The premise should make for a compelling story and game, but somehow falls apart on both fronts when you realize that the “game” of Beyond is just a non-existent series of prompted button-presses, and the story, told in a disjointed, non-chronological order, does very little to enhance the user experience or heighten the drama. We did appreciate the excellent performances of both Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe as Nathan, the government doctor assigned to study her. Both actors lend their voices and images to their characters and we loved the idea of the characters looking like their real-life counterparts...until we saw how bad the graphics are in Beyond. For a game that’s likely to be PS3’s final exclusive shebang, Beyond’s graphics are woefully inferior to current games like The Last of Us, and constantly jarred us out of any immersion we felt towards the story. Also jarring? That moment when Beyond forces you to choose whether an adolescent Jodie allows some boy to grope her. We have plenty of experience with being groped, and it’s never been less fun.
Maxim.com Ready-Made Press Blurb: “Beyond: Two Souls did not steal our dog or set our house on fire, and as such, we cautiously recommend it!” -Maxim.com
Fun Fact: As an added option, Quantic Dream created a companion app that lets you control the entity Aiden with your iPhone or iPad. Allowing simple gesture controls, the app’s aim is to allow people who are not typically gamers to have an accessible way of experiencing Beyond. You can snag that app here.
Who It’s For: As flawed as Beyond: Two Souls is, you have to respect its ambition to depart so extremely from the conventions built over the past few decades of video game history. Fundamentally, we have a hard time enjoying games that don’t reward (or require) skilled gameplay, but, as Cage and Quantic Dream continue to toe the line of one-way and two-way entertainment, we are quite interested to see if they approach their next game equipped with the wisdom of Beyond’s mistakes. Until then, we guess playing other cinematic games, like GTAV, will have to suffice.
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