Known for their focus on cinematicesque storytelling through preceding games such as Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, in 2013, Quantic Dream and their infamous writer/director David Cage came out with their latest offering to date – Beyond: Two Souls. As of last month, it has been remastered and released to the PlayStation 4, promising an improvement both in graphics and gameplay for the re-release.
Primarily, Quantic Dream is is known for creating games with complex narrative – and Beyond: Two Souls is no exception. As someone who played the original release on PlayStation 3, I could appreciate the ability to play the game chronologically from the beginning as it helped make sense of the game’s timeline and where the direction of the story was heading. While I believe machete order can be warranted in the right context, for a game with as complicated a narrative as Beyond: Two Souls, it has lent itself well to having more of a linear storytelling method introduced. Coupled with the addition of the ‘Enhanced Experiments’ DLC that was released on PlayStation 3, it was a welcome addition to add even more flesh to the wide-spanning story.
The story itself is scripted much like a movie with many cinematic elements blended into the overarching narrative. With anything from explosions and gun battles to romance and dinner parties – Beyond: Two Souls has to be applauded for incorporating genre elements that are wide spanning and accessible to anyone. As someone who has been very outspoken about where he believes the future of gaming is heading, David Cage makes good on his promise of delivering a more interactive film sense of gaming than ever before.
Hand in hand with the plot of the game is the ability for the player to direct where the story is going through the choice of dialogue options. Mass Effect 2 was probably the first game I recall which really forced me to emotionally struggle with choice in gaming, and Beyond: Two Souls does this in a very earnest way – anywhere from making life altering decisions about life and death, all the way to deciding whether you’re going to sneak a beer at a teenage house party. Another addition to the remaster which I appreciated was the statistics breakdown of your choices at the end of each chapter in comparison to others – much like the methods employed in games by Telltale, Catherine and others. As mentioned in my recent review for Game of Thrones, I’m very much a fan of this particular system feature. This is because I believe it encourages discussion amoung fans regarding choice and creates storytelling about the game itself amoung friends and fans who want to share their experiences with others.
Regarding gameplay, Beyond: Two Souls has tightened up a fair bit – with the addition of more difficulty in certain fights, it requires you to be more engaged with the task at hand rather than trying to blitz through and get back to the story. Coupled with the improvement of the controls during action scenes, it was nice to see a little more importance placed on the minor events of the game to make it feel more relevant and required to the overall game. Where I feel like the game lacked and still does is the overall ability to interact with the environment in a natural way, as a lot of the actions you perform seem very static and telegraphed which can be a bit jarring in the flowing context of the narrative.
While perhaps Quantic Dream games are often polarising to some given their focus on narrative and the vision of David Cage – I believe that the presentation of Beyond: Two Souls is where the game truly shines. Visually, the game is stunning – and bringing it forward to the PlayStation 4 has done even more for the sheer beauty of the visuals. Actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe look so incredibly lifelike in their roles as Jodie and Nathan respectively, and they help in bringing a sincere gravity to the game through their excellent voice work. The sound work through background noise and arrangement pieces are also spot on, and help add to the atmosphere of the world that Jodie lives in – with perfect pieces set the mood and tempo of the chapter depending on what’s happening at any given moment.
While there are some who might believe that remasters of recent games on new generation consoles might be overdoing it, there’s no denying that Beyond: Two Souls is a worthy addition to a PlayStation 4 library. As a game that is heavily thematic and quite accessible, it’s a title which should appeal to both long term adventure game veterans and the uninitiated alike. If you didn’t own a PlayStation 3 or haven’t had the chance to play Beyond: Two Souls or any Quantic Dream games – I highly recommend the experience, as they are truly unique games of and unto themselves.
Editor Note: As the game in question is a remastered release, the above review is intended as a critique on any updates as well as a second opinion on the game as a whole. You can also visit our original review by clicking this link.