Beyond: Two Souls — A Tale Of Lost Opportunity
Quantic Dream. David Cage. Ellen Page. William Dafoe. Hans Zimmer. They seem to be idiot-proof ingredients for a game of the year title, yet astoundingly Beyond misses the mark in the most spectacular of fashions. This is a great game, and despite everything, one which I truly enjoyed playing. The thing is though, some games get developed quietly and without making too much fuss. Some games however want the fuss, and you hear about every trailer, every screen shot and every art rendering months and months before its actual release. Some games get hyped to the point that you think they are the messiah of games. The problem with the latter marketing model is that you better make damn sure that it is the messiah of games else you face a very confused and very underwhelmed fan base after release.
I’m not going to detail all the aspects where Beyond fails to impress. I’m going to try and ascertain why. Step into the shoes of David Cage for a moment. A man who maybe in another life would have been an acclaimed novelist or movie director. In this life though, he is a video game director. Operative words being “video game”. We gamers are confusing; to the rest of the world and to ourselves. We want compelling stories, intricate plots with no gaping holes, we want control over our characters and choices and for those choices to matter, we want immersion and willing suspension of disbelief, we want hollywood style voice action and emotive soundtracks. And married to all of those things, we want intuitive and proper gameplay. You can’t blame David Cage for wanting to try and give us all of that.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
David Cage is ambitious, somewhat of a gaming visionary. Games should not just be games, they should make us feel and question decisions and allow us to invest in characters. His previous title Heavy Rain surpassed all of that. Teething issues aside (aka gaping plot holes), Heavy Rain for most of us was an intensely emotional journey which really did make us wrestle with the question “how far would you go for someone you love?”. It is a game that I would recommend all gamers play. But Heavy Rain had its downsides, it was wonderful and emotive but was just an interactive and gamers want their gameplay. We want combat, we want platforming. Can you have an emotive interactive experience and have proper gameplay? You definitely can, it’s just that Beyond does not succeed at it.
It’s almost as though this is a game which tries to do everything. It just does everything rather averagely. You want combat gameplay so guess what we will do, we’re going to drop you off in some fictitious African country and send you on an assassination mission where you will get to shoot things. You want character backstory and investment so your character will get invited to a birthday party where she gets mocked shamelessly and called a slut (in my choices, I always kiss the boy). You want some stealth as well so we will send you to an embassy dinner in a pretty dress where you can hideout in the bathroom. There should always be an element of mysticism so not only will there be monsters (there are always monsters!) but you will also get to meet some strange shadow guides too. Between being a guinea pig and a CIA operative, there must always be time for romance and so you get to have a boy over too (lucky me). And then the saving the world part, that goes without saying.
The point is that you can’t do everything. You can’t be everything. And yes, gamers will whine and complain about generally every game they play and how or why they fell short in some places. But that’s just par for the course, there is no messiah of games and there never will be because you cannot getting everything you want (there is a life lesson in there somewhere). This is why there need to be defined parameters for what a game is, what it does and how it does it. There have to be limits to what you are trying to do, because if you don’t have that you end up with something which is wildly ambitious and ends up being decidedly lukewarm.
Would I recommend that you play Beyond? I would. It’s a great game and it has so many amazing parts but it is by no means a perfect game or the game of the year (watch me probably eat my words). But I would also recommend that you leave your expectations at the title screen. Personally if I hadn’t started it expecting the world, I would have probably had a more enjoyable experience. But that’s us gamers I guess, always wanting the world (and to save it).
A full overview of Beyond: Two Souls can be found at eGamer’s review of Beyond: Two Souls.