Beyond: Two Souls Review — Supernaturally Bad Storytelling

A note to would-be storytellers who might be inclined to find inspiration within Beyond: Two Souls, the latest work of “interactive fiction” by David Cage and Quantic Dream: When you leave huge plot holes, when you introduce significant developments with no supporting context, when you ask your audience to accept a certain relationship exists between characters despite providing no evidence or justification for such a relationship in the material, you’re not being deep. What you’re doing is asking your audience to do your damned job for you. No matter how big your ambitions or lofty your concepts, when you force your audience to fill in the blanks, you have failed as a storyteller.

That strange combination of authorial laziness and unfocused ambition is at the heart of Beyond: Two Souls.

Rest assured, the game is not terrible in a strictly play-oriented context. It boasts exceptional performances from a stellar cast which includes Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, as well as supporting players that is, at least partly, well worth the enormous amount of money it (probably) took to secure their services. It retains and refines Quantic Dream’s signature control mechanics (mostly successfully). It has beautiful visuals, and incorporates several exciting, almost flimic moments.

But, good god. Beyond: Two Souls is full of cool concepts that are half-baked, poorly combined, and used in service to a story whose mediocrity is only matched by its incoherence. Its exciting sequences fail to have impact because they appear to have been designed because they sounded cool, not because they serve the story. Adding insult to injury, the actors’ excellence is mostly overshadowed by the limited and inconsistent characters they portray. And in case this wasn’t made clear, Beyond contains perhaps the worst story seen in a game all year, if not the last several years.

A muddled, pretentious mess, Beyond: Two Souls defies the patience and affection of everyone who played Heavy Rain (or its predecessor, Indigo Prophecy) and thought perhaps Quantic Dream was in the process of creating the future of storytelling in games.

Beyond: Two Souls
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: Oct. 8, 2013
MSRP: $59.99

It’s likely this review will leave readers feeling like we’ve just delivered a painful spanking to Quantic Dream studio founder David Cage, so it’s important to re-emphasize that Beyond: Two Souls is, in fact, not a full-on disaster.

For one thing, Quantic Dream continues to improve on its signature control scheme. If you’ve played Heavy Rain or Indigo Prophecy, then the controls of Beyond: Two Souls need little explanation, but in case you haven’t, note that rather than a free range of movement and a fully positionable camera, the game is a series of discreet instances in which you essentially partake of interactive cutscenes. This most frequently means quick time events requiring quick taps to the X or square buttons, or pushing the left and right analog sticks in particular directions at particular times, in order to react to an attack or pull off an impressively difficult action such as “walk quietly.”

I kid, but only slightly. Every Quantic Dream game makes an effort to defy gaming conventions wherever possible, up to and including making even mundane tasks — like, no joke, putting on shoes — into tiny challenges. But Beyond: Two Souls see further refinement of this. In part, this is thanks to the game’s central conceit — Jodie (Page) is connected by some unexplained spiritual tether to a spirit she calls “Aiden” (pronounced “Eye-Den,” and no, I have no idea why that is).

Through Aiden, Jodie is able to telekinetically interact with, and impact, her surroundings. This includes picking locks, hacking computers and, occasionally, engaging in combat. During normal play, the player controls Jodie, but at any moment aside from certain scripted scenes, you can switch to Aiden. At these points, the game becomes first-person as you look around from Aiden’s POV and potentially cause mischief or simply help out, depending on at what point the story happens to be.

Aiden is also accessible in the game’s two-player mode. Installing the Beyond Touch app on your iOs or Android mobile device, you can control Aiden via these devices and enjoy potentially easier controls than with the Playstation 3′s dual-shock controller. It’s not really an essential feature, but as far as mobile functionality goes, it’s one of the more novel approaches.

Beyond: Two Souls also improves on previous Quantic Dream games by making the mundane tutorial aspects less tedious. There’s no need to make Jodie go to the bathroom or brush her teeth. Instead, you learn the ropes by actually putting her abilities and Aiden’s powers to work. Not that you need very much tutorial; commands are somewhat less complicated than before, easier to pull off in a pinch — certainly compared the nightmarish driving or the almost-possibly-could-be basement murder scenes in Heavy Rain. The control scheme still has problems, but this time it’s a matter of application rather than conception.

For one, the style really isn’t suited for an action/combat game, which Beyond: Two Souls sometimes is. The fixed camera makes certain QTE commands difficult to pull off. In certain combat situations, you’re prompted by slow-motion triggers to press the right analog stick in the same direction as Jodie’s action to complete it. Simple enough, but when blocking or counterattacking, you’re often not spatially oriented in a way that makes the command feel natural. This means more often than not, you’ll find yourself being beaten up and not understanding what you did wrong. That it’s very difficult to fail a mission makes this problem even more inscrutable. Related to this, Quantic Dream still hasn’t figured out how to make normal, basic movement feel natural. You’ll find far too often that you accidentally walk into a wall because you keep missing what you’re supposed to interact with to open a door. These problems may vary from player to player, but they’re worth keeping in mind.

As for graphics, this isn’t a game that pushes the PS3′s graphical capabilities to the limit, but it takes every opportunity to treat the player to some stunning visuals and absolutely riveting scenes. From the landscape painting beauty of desert wilderness on a Native American reservation, to the doom landscape of a rift between the spirit world and the world of the living, Beyond keeps giving you a reason to look. Several scenes are as frenetic and intense as anything we’ve come to expect from middling blockbusters, at least in terms of pacing and scenario. And these scenes — like one set in an East African shanty town — feel textured in a way we normally see only in Naughty Dog productions.

There are a few serious issues with Beyond’s graphics, though. It’s glitchy, and errors include characters disappearing from scenes for several seconds. The color pallet is a bit on the pastel side, giving everything an unnaturally cartoonish look, even when ominous and dark. And the motion capture technology used here proves that facial mo-cap really isn’t there yet, at least in games. Faces look far too big for the bodies they’re on, and those bodies never seem to inhabit the environments. Frankly, it puts large chunks of the game firmly in the uncanny valley and it’s occasionally enough to take you out of the story.

Fortunately for Quantic Dream, the cast is excellent. Page and Dafoe are, of course, unsurprisingly excellent. They deliver nuanced performances that avoid the curse of major actors taking a video game job, and as one colleague of mine noted, make good use of the crazy motion-capture style Quantic Dream is built on. These performances are certainly nothing like the tortured mediocrity of previous games. Page and Dafoe are joined by a decent supporting cast that includes Kadeem Hardison (“Cult,” “A Different World”), and the result is perhaps the first-ever instance of a game packed with celebrities that never once feels bogged down by stunt casting.

So there’s plenty to like. But when your schtick is “interactive fiction” instead of “video game,” then the “fiction” part has to be exactly perfect. Beyond: Two Souls comes close. It’s a perfect example of everything wrong with the way game developers approach story.

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38 Comments on Beyond: Two Souls Review — Supernaturally Bad Storytelling

Swcloud99

On October 8, 2013 at 8:48 am

David cage needs to remain a director but he desperately needed a talented writer on Heavy Rain and it sounds like he hasn’t gotten any better.
Disappointing since his games are some of the most original big budget games out there. They are sadly brought down by one man’s ego.

Tardy

On October 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

Surprise surprise, Phil “people who hated the Mass Effect 3 ending are entitled homophobes/racists who don’t understand binary” Iwanuik of OPM has basically sucked David Cage’s anus dry.

Hiyoooooooo!

On October 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

As usual with David Cage, it’s smug, superficial rubbish that tries to shame its audience into liking it with pretty visuals and fiat emotion. On the plus side, at least the acting is acceptable this time (you can thank Enslaved: Odyssee to the West and the Uncharted series for setting the bar so high) and Ellen Page is a total cutie. And Willem Defoe is as ever just about engaging enough to make it worth suffering through. But really, how long are mainstream media sycophants going to continue kissing this hack’s rear end like he’s the second coming of ens or Salinger? He’s only about one step above Vince Russo. He should stick to directing (which he’s actually very adept at) and leave the writing to someone who can actually write. So, basically anyone other than Casey Hudson or Mac Walters.

Hiyoooooooo!

On October 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Really, guys? You sensor the word ‘D-i-c-k-e-n-s’? Why even bother having the censor on to begin with when Jim Sterling swears in most of his articles anyway?

Hiyoooooooo!

On October 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Really? You sensor the word ‘D-i-c-k-e-n-s’? Why even bother having the censor on to begin with when Jim Sterling swears in most of his articles anyway?

Tardy

On October 9, 2013 at 1:50 am

Forgot to include the link to his review, if you fancy a laugh.

http://www.officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk/review/beyond-two-souls-review-official-playstation-magazine/

Also, how come it says there are eight comments but only three (four after this, I hope) are visible?

Ron Whitaker

On October 9, 2013 at 5:12 am

@Tardy – Sometimes when other sites link back to us, the site interprets those as comments. They’re not, and they go away after a short while.

Tardy

On October 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

@Ron: Thanks for clearing that up.

Michael

On October 9, 2013 at 11:05 am

I enjoyed this game for its unique experience. Everything that was released this year besides NI NO Kuni and Tomb Raider was so stale an dry. Games like GtA 5 and soon to be Batman Origins, Assassins Creed Black and Battlefield 4 are just carbon copies of its old predecessors. Its like eating pizza but all you do is change the topping. In the end its still a pizza. Stuff like this is boring. But my biggest disappointment was the Last of Us. That games writing was pure laziness. The game lacked multiple endings and exploration. All the set pieces were exactly the same just moved to a different are on the map. Coop will have worked well in this game and it lacked it. I can keep going. I just dont get why people take a risk in trying new things. Guess that’s why there’s so many idiots out there who buy iphone’s every year.

Geffon

On October 9, 2013 at 11:26 am

@Michael – vapid comment. Just because something doesn’t have multiple endings doesn’t make it ‘pure laziness’. By that token every single film every made is lazy because it only has one ending. If anything, the fact that David Cage continuously uses the illusion of choice as a crutch to disguise his weak, plothole-riddled, pretentious storytelling is the real laziness. Rather than actually make sure any single one of his games makes sense, he just adds a bunch of skin-deep features and histrionics to try and convince people he’s moving the industry forward, when in fact he’s part of the reason why it remains stagnant.

As for certain games being stale copies of their predecessors? Explain how this is any different from either Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain, from a purely technical and ideological standpoint. It’s the same thing – scenes that go nowhere, plot twists that have no build-up and are there just to be there, clichéd dialogue and poorly realised ambition. It’s present in all of his games, so how you can consider this a unique experience is beyond me. The only way it’s unique is in as much as it’s not literally the same as any other game – which is the same for every game ever released.

Sadly, you’re so blinkered by the whole ‘mature storytelling’/'interactive drama’ bs that you can’t see that what’s actually being presented is absolutely meaningless without the pretty visuals and industry snobbery.

Herman Sherman

On October 9, 2013 at 11:27 am

@Michael – absolute gash. Just because something doesn’t have multiple endings doesn’t make it ‘pure laziness’. By that token every single film every made is lazy because it only has one ending. If anything, the fact that David Cage continuously uses the illusion of choice as a crutch to disguise his weak, plothole-riddled, pretentious storytelling is the real laziness. Rather than actually make sure any single one of his games makes sense, he just adds a bunch of skin-deep features and histrionics to try and convince people he’s moving the industry forward, when in fact he’s part of the reason why it remains stagnant.

As for certain games being stale copies of their predecessors? Explain how this is any different from either Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain, from a purely technical and ideological standpoint. It’s the same thing – scenes that go nowhere, plot twists that have no build-up and are there just to be there, clichéd dialogue and poorly realised ambition. It’s present in all of his games, so how you can consider this a unique experience is beyond me. The only way it’s unique is in as much as it’s not literally the same as any other game – which is the same for every game ever released.

Sadly, you’re so blinkered by the whole ‘mature storytelling’/'interactive drama’ bs that you can’t see that what’s actually being presented is absolutely meaningless without the pretty visuals and industry snobbery.

R.J.

On October 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

What I’ve been reading largely confirms the concern I had from the preview material, which is that the game’s focus shifts around so much that the story suffers for it. Watching gameplay videos, etc. always left me wondering what the plot actually was. That isn’t exactly encouraging when it’s a game coming from David Cage who seems to think he is patron saint of innovative plots in games.

Michael

On October 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

@ Herman

What plot holes? I understood the whole thing. Maybe since you picked different choices you may have not understood some important key points. I understood the style of story telling he tried to do. He didnt want the game to be linear story. That would be boring. He Jumped around the timeline because the character Jodie was losing her mind and everything she was writing was random events. If you would pay attention to the ending you would have understood that. But you didnt. I don’t get when people try to invent new ideas they get bad reviews. Just dont play it. Go play GTA and enjoy getting your character deleted. But no one complains about that. What they do is be a bunch of apologetic sheep. Oh its ok it happens blah blah blah.

Herman Sherman

On October 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

@Michael: Sorry, I refuse to humour anyone who resorts to the pathetic “durpy derp you just weren’t paying attention and you’re just too dumbz too understand it doodz.” I understand Cage’s writing perfectly, thanks. It doesn’t give a damn about continuity or consistency. It’s a sequence of disconnected set-pieces that, if YOU knew the first thing about storytelling, you’d recognise immediately contradicted each other in literally dozens of ways. He got away with it to some extent with Indigo Prophecy because it was supernatural (though, of course, being a hack he didn’t introduce the supernatural element until more than halfway through the story), but there was no excuse for it in Heavy Rain which was supposed to be naturalistic.

And your GTA V comparison is meaningless. Compare the stories of both or give up. The story in GTA V is basic, but it’s far in advance of anything Cage will ever be capable of, if for no other reason than it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. What you’ve done is essentially the same as saying a musician should be judged by the standards of a book. It’s beyond desperate to try and compare poor writing in a story-driven game to a poor online mode in a predominantly single-player game.

Finally, you once again go with the “whenever developers try something different der der” handwave, but you continue to ignore the fact that this ISN’T different. It’s the same as Cage has already done, but with marginally better acting and even worse writing. It’s not even that original as a concept because there’s been plenty of ‘press the button to continue the story’ games dating as far back as the 90′s arcades. Most gamers have now realised that choice and consequence is not in and of itself a selling point, it’s usually just a cynical means of trying to pad out a game and artificially increase replayability. Plus, you’re wrong about ‘different’ games anyway – the last several years alone has seen LOADS of interesting concepts get massive audiences and critical acclaim. Braid, Limbo, Journey, Okami, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Killer 7, and countless others have succeeded, not only artistically but commercially. Cage just gets a nice graphics engine, makes the actors cry, gets you to play QTE sequences of characters eating their breakfast and calls it “mature storytelling.” He’s no more of an artist than Michael Bay.

You appear to have a massive chip on your shoulder that prevents you from separating what you WANT a game to represent and what it actually achieves. If you honestly think Cage is a good writer then I would suggest you go and read a few more books and study literary devices before casting any further judgements as you don’t have a clue. Either that or get the chip off your shoulder and stop trying to look like you have sophisticated taste when what you’re favouring is the equivalent of a bargain-bin pulp novel.

Herman Sherman

On October 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

@Michael: Sorry, I refuse to humour anyone who resorts to the pathetic “durpy derp you just weren’t paying attention and you’re just too dumbz too understand it doodz.” I understand Cage’s writing perfectly, thanks. It doesn’t give a damn about continuity or consistency. It’s a sequence of disconnected set-pieces that, if YOU knew the first thing about storytelling, you’d recognise immediately contradicted each other in literally dozens of ways. He got away with it to some extent with Indigo Prophecy because it was supernatural (though, of course, being a hack he didn’t introduce the supernatural element until more than halfway through the story), but there was no excuse for it in Heavy Rain which was supposed to be naturalistic. Generally, however, when people like yourself say “I understood the whole thing” what you’re actually saying is you filled in the gaps for yourself. That’s what happen with Heavy Rain, where I actually witnessed someone ‘explain’ 16 completely legitimate, watertight plotholes with nothing more than conjecture and guess work, then claim it was the other person’s fault for not creating the same canon.

And your GTA V comparison is meaningless. Compare the stories of both or give up. The story in GTA V is basic, but it’s far in advance of anything Cage will ever be capable of, if for no other reason than it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. What you’ve done is essentially the same as saying a musician should be judged by the standards of a book. It’s beyond desperate to try and compare poor writing in a story-driven game to a poor online mode in a predominantly single-player game.

Finally, you once again go with the “whenever developers try something different der der” handwave, but you continue to ignore the fact that this ISN’T different. It’s the same as Cage has already done, but with marginally better acting and even worse writing. It’s not even that original as a concept because there’s been plenty of ‘press the button to continue the story’ games dating as far back as the 90′s arcades. Most gamers have now realised that choice and consequence is not in and of itself a selling point, it’s usually just a cynical means of trying to pad out a game and artificially increase replayability. Plus, you’re wrong about ‘different’ games anyway – the last several years alone has seen LOADS of interesting concepts get massive audiences and critical acclaim. Braid, Limbo, Journey, Okami, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Killer 7, and countless others have succeeded, not only artistically but commercially. Cage just gets a nice graphics engine, makes the actors cry, gets you to play QTE sequences of characters eating their breakfast and calls it “mature storytelling.” He’s no more of an artist than Michael Bay.

You appear to have a massive chip on your shoulder that prevents you from separating what you WANT a game to represent and what it actually achieves. If you honestly think Cage is a good writer then I would suggest you go and read a few more books and study literary devices before casting any further judgements as you don’t have a clue. Either that or get the chip off your shoulder and stop trying to look like you have sophisticated taste when what you’re favouring is the equivalent of a bargain-bin pulp novel.

joe

On October 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

i highly doubt michael’s even played the game yet anyway or at least finished it since it was only released yesterday. even if he has actually already completed it then that only confirms that there’s no way he has had the time to try and evaluate it properly let alone to have seen the different choices he seems to think are so vitally important to gaming. it took people a little while to realise just how bad heavy rain’s writing really was so it’ll probably take a few days at least before the extent of the idiocy in beyond two souls is fully realised. all i know is i trust the considered and elaborated judgement of ross lincoln far more than that of some guy who hasn’t gone into any detail about the game in two attempts and is more interested in just slating everything else for weak reasons.

joe

On October 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

i highly doubt that michael’s even played the game yet anyway or at least finished it since it was only released yesterday. even if he has actually already completed it then that only confirms that there’s no way he has had the time to try and evaluate it properly let alone to have seen the different choices he seems to think are so vitally important to gaming. it took people a little while to realise just how bad heavy rain’s writing really was so it’ll probably take a few days at least before the extent of the idiocy in beyond two souls is fully realised. all i know is i trust the considered and elaborated judgement of ross lincoln far more than that of some guy who hasn’t gone into any detail about the game in two attempts and is more interested in just slating everything else for weak reasons.

Michael

On October 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

@ joe

I preordered the game. I had the day off and focused on this game which took me 13 hours to finish. There are 2 choices at the end and one of those choices you have to pick from 4 alternate endings.
Its a great game and whats expected from David Cage. No one cant be so ignorant that once you played Heavy Rain this game was not going to be the same way. The game was designed that way. So why buy the game or be mad at it.

MarkEMark

On October 10, 2013 at 2:01 am

I share David Cage’s vision… but can’t say his execution has been all that great.

Indigo prophecy and Heavy Rain captured me in the beginning only to disappoint in the 2nd and 3rd acts.

It sounds like this game doesn’t even try to capture the player in the same way.

joe

On October 10, 2013 at 3:08 am

michael, you keep making these statements about how many endings there are as if that’s what makes a story great. as herman sherman already explained, that is a nonsense reason for saying a story is good because by association (and by actual example since you criticised the excellent and far more emotionally investing the last of us for having a linear story) you’re saying any story that doesn’t have a bunch of choices in them are bad. it’s this sort of backwards mentality that is keeping the industry from progressing. instead of improving the writing, developers can just add c&c to the back of the box and say it’s advanced storytelling. black ops 2 had four different endings as well, so by your logic it has better writing than planescape torment because that only had one ending. i doubt even you are silly enough to suggest that.

also, you still aren’t explaining why it’s a great game. there’s an entire two page review here that goes into massive amounts of detail weighing up the pros and cons of the game, and it comes to the fair conclusion that the writing is sub-standard but the game is probably still worth playing. you, on the other hand, have contributed nothing other than “it’s a great game.” without giving any reasons as to why you like it, apart from this obsession you have with choices and the whole ‘but youre ignorant if you didnt like it’ card, your opinion is worthless. plus, you deliberately missed the point about the game being like heavy rain. what was said is that all of david cage’s games share a set list of tropes and clichés, and by all accounts this game is no different. at no point did anyone suggest the setting, characters, or plot were the same thing.

and that sums up your problem, the same as quantic dream has when it comes to these games and the same as the press have as well – you can’t see past the superficiality of the graphics, sound, unorthodox control schemes, scenes in which you do a menial task to try and make you think it’s immersive, and little emotional prods to remind you how grown up it is and therefore how grown up you’ll be if you like it. it plays on your personal insecurities about what it is to be a gamer by telling you it’s different. but the reality is, everything that’s actually important to the game and its story (aside from atmosphere, which cage always does pretty well and is part of the reason why people still seem to think he knows how to tell a story) has not progressed in any way since indigo prophecy. it’s still the same smug, cheesy, inconsistent sequence of disconnected events with choices that are there simply to make you play through the game a second or third time, instead of being there as a tool to test a player’s intuition as in the original fallout for example. cage’s success is based entirely down to gimmicks, and it’s a shame because i think most would agree he’s a decent director who just needs to get his head out of his own butt and hire a proper writer. but by continuing to act as if he’s the shot in the arm the industry requires to move forward when his own work has if anything moved backwards, you’re only ensuring that even more developers use these sorts of gimmicks to try and make their games look more impressive than they are, and it will be at the cost of actual storytelling.

so enjoy the game, i’ll probably enjoy it as well. but get over this lie you’re feeding yourself about it being intelligent outside-the-box thinking that the industry won’t accept, when in truth the industry is absolutely desperate to accept cage’s work even when it’s provably substandard.

joseph blower

On October 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

Your mileage may vary, but for me, the game is transcendent.

It transcends both video games and movies to become something greater than either medium would ever be by themselves. I’m an avid gamer (I have 400+ Steam games, 400+ iOS games, and 100+ console games). Yet–to speak for myself–*I* found this game far more moving, thought-provoking, meaningful, and entertaining than many other games (including Super Mario Galaxy 1-2, Grand Theft Auto 4-5, The Last of Us, and others).

I can only compare it to Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead, or the Metal Gear Solid series: deep rich stories that have themes and messages that convey something of lasting meaning; something beyond the mindless (but fun) shooting and platforming of other titles.

I will remember this game for years to come. There are few works of fiction of any medium for which I can say the same.

If you like a rich deep story line and don’t care about a lack of “agency” (it’s always illusory in video games, anyway–there are always incredibly restrictive rules on game play), then this is *the* game of the seventh generation. The comparably minor errors in execution and direction can be ignored, when viewed in light of the whole.

Indeed, the question of whether this qualifies as a game is, like Dear Ester, a largely irrelevant and pedantic: It entertains. It provokes thought. It is emotionally moving. And it illustrates that games–like cinema or literature–can be taken seriously as a medium to both entertain and enlighten.

It seems to me that most reviewers of this game have profoundly and tragically missed the point.
I’ve tentatively come to the conclusion that most people who dislike Beyond do so because they cannot (or will not) accept the game on its own terms: They have certain expectations of video games, and deviation from well-established norms vexes them. So, for instance, they demand interactivity, even when accepting passivity allows a far more compelling and moving narrative.

In contrast, other people are more flexible (with regards to their expectations of the medium). For instance, the “passivity” of playing Beyond did not bother me in the slightest. I knew what I was getting into, and I knew it was worth the tradeoff: there has been only one other title in forty years of gaming history that provides an experience comparable to Beyond: Two Souls, and it was released three years ago (Heavy Rain).

I believe that many reviewers, given their larger than average exposure to the medium are even less tolerant that other players of certain deviations from gameplay norms. This, I think, explains the large divergence of opinions on metacritic, and the (to me) inconceivably low average the game currently has (a mere 73 for the professionals, and 78 for gamers).

Like the criticism that the game strips the player of freedom/agency, I do not think the others have merit:

I consider the script to be impeccable. I have noticed no plot holes during two playthroughs, and very few problems with the dialogue. It is telling that David Cage took a year of 12-14-hour days to write it and that it is 2000 pages in length.

I consider Page’s acting to be truly and deeply awe-inspiring. I cannot praise her highly enough. She memorized 30-40 pages of dialogue each day. She had very little time to prepare and rehearse. She often had to juggle different emotional responses to the situations (e.g., playing the part one way in a scene and playing it another way in the same scene). Yet, despite these challenges, her acting is consistently of the highest professional quality. I have noticed no flaws in her performance; it is (along with William Dafoe’s performance) very much in keeping with her Academy Award for Best Actress. I consider her to be the most talented actress I’ve seen.

I also think that the myriad ad hominem attacks against David Cage seem entirely unwarranted. He does not try to impose his views on others. Rather, he is merely passionate, has a vision he believes in, and is outspoken in his beliefs. He believes that gaming can, like cinema or literature, change the world (or try to). This is not arrogant; it is noble.

Moreover, the game has other strengths that seem to be overlooked by many:

- The social commentary is entirely warranted, and appropriately biting.
- The graphical quality of the game is the best of any on a console.
- The story is incredibly moving and thought-provoking. The narrative was very easy for me to follow, despite the non-chronological presentation.
- There is a wide range of different locales and gameplay dynamics employed.

To put it succinctly (and a little melodramatically):

For me, the game is both a reminder and illustration of the many challenges and the triumphs, the sadnesses and joys that life has to offer. For me, it’s life affirming, and I consider it deep, rich and meaningful. There are almost no other games (and few movies and books, for that matter) for which I can say the same.

Take a chance: play this game.

lol

On October 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

The only thing this game transcends is how much you can phone in a story and still get elitist morons to harp on about how artistic it is.

Dan Miller

On October 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I ran “joseph blower” through an anagram generator, and this came up: “Jew Polo Herbs”

I ran “David Cage” through that SAME generator and got “Caved Gad I”.

Clearly…. Half life 3 confirmed.

Bob

On October 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm

It just sounds like the reviewer has no comprehension as to how life or a story really is about. You push away to much from the content of the review and generally deviate from your points, making it seem as though you are about as intelligent as the movie “Inception”.

Pathological Defence Mechanism

On October 14, 2013 at 2:35 am

No Bob, you don’t get to suggest this lazy, meaningless game is more intelligent than Inception. The game’s story is as devoid of substance as your comment, in which you claim Ross deviates from his points yet you yourself provide absolutely zero points of your own.

Trollolol.

J

On October 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Why would you negatively assess this story line? I haven’t even been able to play the game – I’ve been watching an ongoing play through on youtube – but I am quite gripped by it. I find it refreshing, I find it philosophical, and I find it very deep and spiritually powerful. Moral relativism, framing what is right and wrong given context. Maybe in a way, too, I find myself seeing myself in the main character. Assailed on many sides and at many times by manipulative, bad people only seeking to harm – except I don’t have a second soul to protect me. The bar scene in particular was scary as – I have had too many people in my life try to fight me in bars, and it’s really affected my overall perspective of the human race. It’s really no wonder so much good in the world is perceived so negatively…when people in many instances…will do anything their heart desires…at anyone’s expense…if they don’t feel there is any risk.

Eric Pipedream

On October 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I have to admit, as one who had high hopes for this game, and pre-ordered, so far I am a bit let down. It would be easy for me to hide behind the hyperbole of what David Cage is trying to do, and exaggerate the deepness of the game and the emotions it strives to hit… But the reality, is that I put down the controller and switched back to GTA5 after a few hours of sitting through Beyond. Perhaps BECAUSE I’ve been playing so much GTA lately (and it is superb, and I am a huge fan of GTA and rockstar in general, but this comment is about them…) I’m not in the correct mindset to truly immerse myself in the Beyond world.

I’m also a self proclaimed David Cage fan. I stumbled upon Indigo Prophecy / Fahrenheit when the timing was just perfect. I’ve been playing video games for close to my entire cognizant life, so the adultness of Fahrenheit was awesome and I found the game to be quite immersive – especially as I had never played anything like it at the time. I loved the game, and I played through it many, many times. Probably more times than the game really deserved to be played through, but it really tickled my horror / sci fi fan fancy. The writing was PRETTY DECENT for a video game of the era. It completely falls apart toward the last 3rd of the game, but for the first 3/4′s it aproaches masterful.

Heavy Rain came next, and it built off the success of IP, and was a real technological feat. This game continues DC’s penchant for really great story build ups, that he just can’t quite wrap up properly. I still thoroghly enjoyed the game- but the more scripted nature of the game makes repeated playthroughs not as fun as what I got from IP. I still found myself relatively rivted to the game, and had a lot of fun playing through it. Even though the story has a few glaring potholes (sic) in the story, it didn’t really interfere with my enjoyment or ruin my life.

Beyond I feel like its the culmination of all of these things, but with a really large spotlight on the poor writing and overly simplified linear gameplay. I realize the story is NON-LINEAR (to a fault I would say), but the gameplay is so linear (at least so far) and the story pacing odd and slow that I just couldn’t even force myself to play through it this weekend when I had the very exciting GTA5 waiting to be finished.
It seems like Beyond is simplified maybe TOO much. I’m trying to reserve my opinion until I playthrough it, which I will. But my first impression is that too much was spent on technology and acting, and not enough was spent on interactivity and writing.

It’s hard to justify forcing myself to play through it right now when I’ve got GTA’s huuuuuuge world beckoning me to continue to explore it. I finished the GTA campaign (this morning at 4:30am!! eeps) and I STILL can’t wait to get home and jump back into its world. I wish Beyond had the same allure! After I exhaust GTA at least to the point of feeling satiated I do look forward to giving Beyond another chance.

Jackson

On October 15, 2013 at 3:21 am

@ Pathological Defence Mechanism I think Bob made an Observation not a point.

cris

On October 15, 2013 at 4:00 am

erm, observations ARE points, or at least they’re supposed to have one. all that bob did was cry because the review was too critical of a game he likes, but he didn’t bother to explain why he liked it or give any examples of what he was talking about regarding the review itself. then he made a dumb, unelaborated and pointless comparison to inception.

Frankie

On October 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm

An observation is not a point. Those are completely different things. Though i can see how to someone like yourself would get confused

LOL

On October 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Nope. Frankie, you are a complete idiot. If you’re making an observation, then clearly you’re doing so because you’re trying to make a point. Otherwise, what’s the reason for stating the observation?

Take your time on this, you stupid little moron.

Gamer

On October 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Cage’s first two games are GENIUS. The Nomad Soul (a part of my imagination is still somewhere in Omikron) and Indigo Prophecy are a testament to how great a writer Cage is.

And then came Heavy Rain, which marked Quantic Dream’s transition from being a great game developer to being total crap. I disliked Heavy Rain because a) it was a copycat of Indigo Prophecy b) it had too many plot holes c) there was too much cussing, which is untypical of QD d) too many ridiculous things and people e) a PS3 exclusive.

I knew right from the start that Beyond Two Souls would stink. And I wasn’t wrong.

Cage should go back to the old ways of writing a script. His first two games are MASTERPIECES that everyone should play. They need to be studied by everyone who wants to become a script writer.

His last two games, however, are pieces of crap that should never have happened. Those were my 2 cents.

Fax

On October 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm

@Gamer – please, no. No person should ever be taught that scriptwriting is making something that looks completely normal/psychoanalytical for the first two acts then suddenly introduces unexplained, underdeveloped supernatural elements in the final third – which is exactly what Cage did with Indigo Prophecy. Cage is a piss-poor writer but a good director. He needs to stay as far away from the writing process as possible and just work on engaging atmosphere.

thedog

On October 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

No lol. an observation is not a point. Like cris said, a point is suppose to come with an observation, but doesn’t always make it. The reviewer is an idiot, is an observation, no point included. Now if they elaborated a little more, explaining why they felt that way, with actual points and not just simple opinion, then it would be ok. No one ranting one’s opinion without valid reasons, can be viewed seriously. It’s just emotional opinion.

Gamer

On November 3, 2013 at 5:41 am

I know that in the last part of Indigo Prophecy things went a bit…downhill to put it nicely.

The idea was good but it was poorly executed, maybe because Cage had to meet a deadline.
The same thing happened with The Nomad Soul: the last quarter of the game was underwhelming, but still enjoyable.

Heavy Rain was just an unnecessarily vulgar piece of trash (with good graphics), with too many plot holes (because many scenes were edited out of the game, leaving lots of gaps in the plot) and ANNOYING characters.

Beyond Two Souls is just another LONG cliched story mixing unnecessary violence with bad story telling. And let’s not forget plot holes and unanswered questions like “Why did that woman wait 30 years to reveal the secret ritual?” and ” If Aiden could strangle people, why did Jodie have to risk her butt on the battle field when all she had to do was ask Aiden to kill everyone and get the job done faster and cheaper?”.

As far as I’m concerned, QD has sold out. There is nothing explorable in the last two games. So I’ll just pretend that HR and B2S never happened. I’ll play and re-play Omikron and Fahrenheit and enjoy Cage’s creativity mixed with great graphics and good story telling. I’ll just ignore the two other games.

Ian

On November 15, 2013 at 10:38 pm

This is one of the best games I’ve seen, and I disagree with you as you didn’t give any good examples that would’ve convinced me.

nice

On January 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

100% agreed. You should also tell us other games with good storytelling just for contrast, and because I want to try those as well.

Quantic dream writer has no talent and it showed in Beyond: Two souls. He shouldn’t write for the future quantic dream games.

Funny how this game was supposed to be all about stories and didn’t even pull that one right.

jordan

On January 29, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I don’t understand how they could of failed on it….My room mate bought the collector’s edition for a mere $20 and i seen why almost instantly. Now if you begin on Beyond without playing Heavy Rain (HR) then I can see the fascination but for someone who went through HR and loved every second of it…this game failed miserly.