Beyond Two Souls is the first video game to feature Hollywood actress Ellen Page, although many have assumed she was also in Sony’s 2013 epic The Last Of Us.
Yes, the lead character was called Ellie and she looked like a younger version of Ellen Page, but she was actually portrayed by Ashley Johnson.
At the time, The Last Of Us had not long since been released, and as I’m reviewing this new PC version, The Last Of Us Part II finally has a release date announced. There’s room in your games library for all of these games.
About Beyond Two Souls and this centres around a young woman, Jodie Holmes (Page), who has supernatural powers and a link to an entity named Aiden. This is something she was born with, but from a young age she ends up in the hands of the government so they can perform tests on her. Clearly no life for a child, let alone a young adult, but when you’re special it seems you’ve got no choice.
Tasked with testing her is Dr Nathan Dawkins, portrayed by Willem Dafoe – one of the best actors around, and who commented in his Metro 60-second interview, in 2013, that working on this game was a great new experience for him, partly because the format meant they could get through recording far more pages of scripts in a day than the average Hollywood movie because no-one had to physically get a set built right or lit right, or for them to be standing in the right place.
Beyond Two Souls gives you options along the way about how a conversation can go, but in the grand scheme of things, for the most part, it doesn’t affect anything important. Later on, different scenes will play depending on your selections giving it some replay value, but one thing that is very annoying about the game, is that some levels, such as Homeless (No.9) and Navajo (No.13) go on for anywhere between just under an hour, and a good 75 minutes. Yet, you can’t break off mid-level and come back to it. Surely, these should’ve been chaptered in some way so you could come back to it at a later point? I remember Assassin’s Creed: Revelations had something like this which allowed it. Given that some of these levels in BTS come straight after levels which have lasted just a few minutes, it makes it feel very uneven.
While it’s worth trying something different once in a while, if I wasn’t playing with Ellen Page, it might not be as interesting. It does seem to have a certain charm, though, as it plays out like a cross between an interactive movie experience and a bit like a modern-day Dragon’s Lair, putting the joypad in certain directions or pressing buttons to get somewhere.
The only problem with the gameplay style in this and Heavy Rain is that, although they do have great storylines, a lot of the early levels end up feeling like one big training level.
All that said, if you persevere with it, this is a game which grows on you – not least as the relationship does between Jodie and Nathan – and which caused me to stick with it until the very end – and there’s not many games that do that for me. Clearly, the early reviews which came out, back in 2013 – and which slammed it for it not having much to do under the player’s control – did not give it the time required to get into this. Metro gave it 2/5, for example. Shame on them.
Beyond Two Souls also attracted me because it has two outstanding guest stars in the two main roles, and two stars who embody their characters and make you feel for their plight in the way the whole thing is constructed, all leading to an experience which is quite an eye-opener if you follow them on their full journey.
That said, even though it’s easier for them both to read their lines, they both prove that they haven’t been brought on just for their star status – they both lend their gravitas to the game and provide a richly rewarding experience that’s all the better for their inclusion.
On PC, the graphics are noticeably better than Heavy Rain, so it shows with the three years how they’ve developed from the original release dates of 2010 and 2013, respectively. Obviously, do bear in mind that these were made in the era of the PS3, so don’t expect ray-tracing(!)
Also, at the end of each level it lists all the different paths you could’ve taken and the %age of people who’ve also taken that path. I’m not sure where it gets the data from, so I can only presume it’s from Epic Games HQ or Quantic Dream, but then since it doesn’t tell you anything of great value, I’m not sure what the point of that is. I certainly don’t remember this happening from when I played the game on PS3, but then that was six years ago, and I’ve had a sleep since then.
Note that the gaming footage is mostly from the PS3 as above. I played it in full back in 2013, but haven’t replayed the entire game on PC. I’ve certainly given it a good go, and if you missed out last time, then definitely get this now. The footage I’ve included in this review is the entire playthrough on PS3, along with the demo sample on PC, so you can see the difference for comparison.
Back in 2013, I used the PS3 joypad, but for the recording of Level 3: The Party, I used the mobile ‘Beyond’ app on my Android for the first – and only – time. It was very difficult to get the hang of. Rather then record it again using the joypad, I left it in so you can see how it’s not easy to use. This never came up as an option on the PC, so I presume that’s been phased out of the game.
- Developer: Quantic Dream
- Publisher: Quantic Dream
- Players: Single player campaign
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.