As I live and heavily breathe because I’m slightly overweight, it’s a Brutlounge review! Hell not only that, it’s one of the first posts I’ve constructed since June. I can’t tell what’s worse, the fact that I haven’t made an update since then or that I’m actually returning with a review for a David Cage game. It’s like coming back home only to see a bunch of weeds sprout in the front yard, and then to top it off your wife is making out with some French dude who watches Amelie or some art shit on repeat. I don’t even want to think about that, I’ve had enough cheap metaphors and artsy pretentiousness with this game already.
Let me explain real quick here for those who aren’t aware, I loathe Heavy Rain and I despise David Cage’s philosophy. And that philosophy being, “Why do games have to be…games? Why not turn my scripts for movies into videogames?!” That’s not just the only problem I have with him though. He calls himself the director for these games, but seems to bestow that title like he’s on the set of some motion picture drama. Furthermore, he seems to be approaching most of his games without a sense of love for the medium.
Now that’s out of the way, what do I think about Beyond: Two Souls? Where exactly does this ‘game’ lie in the middle of this vortex of quick-time event software? As it turns the more I think about it, the more complicated my answer becomes. I don’t have any disdain nor did I consistently facepalm throughout this entire game, but it’s weaknesses seem to originate from my own definition of what I think ‘makes’ a videogame. And I don’t think this fits that definition.
If only Ellen Page could solve this mystery. Quick, use your sass and ironic behavior to get me out of this puzzle! Sadly, she never seems to answer.
Just to actually get into the game itself, I will say this: Ellen Page and William Dafoe do a great job in this game. They do as best as they can with a script that dwells too much on excessive character behavior and sappy lines that can make any tree barf. Ellen Page plays Jodie Holmes, a unique individual who has psychic ties to an entity named Aiden. William Dafoe plays as Jodi’s doctor who looks after her and is named Nathan Dawkins. Along with maybe that one dude who played Ethan in Heavy Rain or the rapist in that game who also played a rapist in this game, I think.
Believe it or not, there are several fascinating story moments in this game. Such as Ellen Page doing an undercover military operation in Africa where she’s sent to assassinate an essential figure and befriends an African child who carries around an AK-47. No I shit you not, that actually happens.
This is one of the games blessings, but also probably one of its biggest weaknesses. There are too many ideas thrown in here, and only a couple manage to mesh well with the story’s theme which is Jodi’s struggle with trying to live a satisfying/normal life. It’s Carrie, no wait its Ellen Page: Psi Ops and now it’s Ellen Page: Spirit Detective. It’s full to the brim with unfulfilled potential, and that’s a damn shame considering David Cage could have had a winner here.
However it would be implied that was the only thing that was wrong with this game. Heh ‘game’.
As I mentioned before, the dialogue is clumsily written and showcases one of Cage’s biggest faults which is his incapability to write villains. Every villain or bully in this game is exaggerated beyond belief and barely have any smooth development. At one point Jodi goes to this birthday party and gets randomly bullied by a group of teenagers, there’s no hint or suggestion that these were the type of teenagers that would abuse an innocent young girl. Even more hysterical is that one point during her childhood years she’s playing snowball with a group of children, and out of nowhere gets smothered by a boy with a snowball. Is everyone out to kill Ellen Page, what the hell?!
If at this point you’re asking yourself, “Why are you talking so much about the story? Get to the game itself.” That’s because there is barely a game here!
There are points where this ‘thing’ thinks it’s a game by allowing us to make choices and go through quick-time events. But here’s the problem with that, you don’t get to make that many choices and the quick-time events are even more annoying here than they were with Heavy Rain. What made Heavy Rain at least fascinating with its quick-time events was the absurd scenes that were happening in the background. Although with here since the writing isn’t as terrible or flimsy, it just makes the game more dull to play. Not to mention since you can’t screw up or start over, the need to actually successfully perform a good majority of these prompts don’t become important at all.
The choices element does come back around at the end, which I was satisfied with since it does make sense within the context of the plot. Okay, this is leading to something I want to get into real quick. It’s just something I want to make my point on, leave, and then wrap up this review.
Sound good? Alright…
Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us have been classified by some as not technically games but more as interactive stories. I don’t have any strong disagreements with that, however here’s why I say that those are games. They keep the player easily invested with the timed dialogue choice system, and adds a more personal touch to the narrative. Along with moments of adventure style mechanics that while aren’t too deep, add some nice variety to these games. Plus these games have a defining art-style that help separate them from the overly realistic titles.
You see what I did there? I basically explained not only why those games work, but why games like Beyond: Two Souls don’t. It’s a (barely) interactive movie that feels unnecessarily translated into an interactive format where the goal is for ‘you’ to understand Jodi’s pain through David Cage’s point-of-view rather than your own. That’s ultimately his downfall, he puts too much of his ideals and ego into his stories. Oh and his scripts aren’t that well written either, that doesn’t sound as eloquent as what I said before but there you go.
Heed my warning, if you buy this game at full price you will regret that decision. Because since the game isn’t that interactive to begin with, you can catch most of these scenes on Youtube without feeling any regret of immersing yourself in this story. Trust me, it’s quick-time event Armageddon here, and nobody should endure that much boredom and suffering by waving your PS3 controller like a goddamn monkey. Although that monkey could probably write better characters, just have to pay him in bananas and that’s it.