Now Talking about Beyond: Two Souls requires a bit of context. However, the developer Quantic Dream has been trying to perfect its distinctive form of interactive storytelling for a decade now — the studio seems to have less interest in traditional games than an Old West schoolmarm. Beyond: Two Souls has no narrative ties to previous Quantic Dream titles Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, but it shares a majority of their DNA.
It is particular attention that on its third pass, Quantic Dream is closer than ever before to nailing a seamless interactive cinematic experience. And Beyond: Two Souls is so refined in its technique, I am actually able to write “cinematic experience” with a straight face. Beyond: Two Souls introduces a gifted young girl named Jodie. Like many tots her age, Jodie has an imaginary friend, but unlike, say, Mr. Snuffleupagus or Drop Dead Fred, Jodie’s pal Aiden is very real, a supernatural entity with the ability to possess people, move objects seemingly on their own and heal wounds. Jodie (played wonderfully by Ellen Page) is left by frightened parents in the care of scientist Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe), who becomes something of a surrogate father to the young girl as he tests the limits of her abilities.
Meanwhile, Quantic Dream leaps chronologically though 15 years of Jodie’s life, but it’s not a straight shot to womanhood. Beyond’s story is constantly bouncing around, hopping from a scene of Jodie training with the CIA to her first night being studied by the government to a party in her teenage years.
But how exactly you interact with Jodie and the world around her varies pretty widely from scene to scene. You may need to choose whether Jodie answers a question with hostility or compassion. You may need to steer a motorcycle through winding mountain roads as you try to evade police. Or you may simply be making dinner for a new boyfriend with a series of timed button presses and thumbstick turns. Of course, Jodie is not the story’s only protagonist — you can also switch control to Aiden at (almost) any moment with a button press. Controlling Aiden is liberating, with his ability to fly at will through walls and ceilings. He is also a great scout who can often pick up snippets of conversations Jodie would have no way of hearing otherwise. Playing as both the lead character and a spirit watching her from a distance effectively establishes a believable emotional connection between the two.
Notably, I probably could have gotten away with grousing about “quick-time events” after Indigo Prophecy. But this is Quantic Dream’s third pass at this formula and it is clear that this is how the studio wants to handle action, and it seems comfortable letting players like it or lump it. [ polygon.com ]