No one’s dissing the impressive performance showcased by Ellen Page and nor the amazing facial animation which Beyond: Two Souls has done to perfection. However, reviewers have been pretty harsh when it comes to the story’s narration and it’s inability to connect players on an emotional level.
We ourselves gave it a good score of 8 though and you can read our review as to why we liked the game just the way it is.
Here’s a review round-up which pretty much is all over the place with some liking it and some showing disappointment.
Great lead performance and tech, wasted on a lacklustre story.
With Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream has smoothed away nearly all the rough edges in how it presents its stories. The other edge of that sword is that it lays the stories themselves bare to be judged entirely on their own. With so many of the traditional elements of gameplay stripped away, like challenge and exploration, a tremendous amount of weight is put on Beyond’s story to carry the day. While it’s exhilarating to see a team that has worked so hard to perfect a new way of telling stories, I couldn’t help wishing they had a perfect one to tell.
The studio’s commendable dream – of a marriage of mechanics and storytelling that takes videogames to new emotional heights – remains out of reach, and the rivers of photorealistic tears aren’t quite enough to make up for it.
Beyond’s approach is no less valid than any of those. But the film stars, the motion capture tech, the black borders, all that expensive striving to look just like a movie, don’t make it any more valid either. Perhaps what David Cage and his dream need are limitations – limitations that Sony’s blank cheque has singularly failed to impose on this sprawling, over-reaching game.
The narrative’s problems feed into the mechanics. Aiden’s powers – and how they’re exerted – are woefully inconsistent with the story, and the game is utterly straightforward in its moment-to-moment interaction with the player. Which would be fine if the game’s narrative hooked you in. But it doesn’t. There are bright moments, but when a game sells itself on a story, said story better be good. This one isn’t, and anyone expecting Heavy Rain 2 is going to be sorely disappointed.
For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond — and they can be leveled in feckless abundance — the overwhelming problem with it is that it’s just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they’re feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing.
Scene by scene, Beyond: Two Souls is compelling enough, principally thanks to a remarkable performance from Ellen Page. But never before have I felt like such a passive participant in a video game, my choices and actions merely icing on a dense, multi-layered cake. Playing Beyond is a memorable experience, yes, but a good video game it is not; and while the credits were rolling I admit to thinking I would have been happier to sit back and watch a movie version that was eight-and-a-half hours shorter.
Beyond: Two Souls is a fascinating experience that expertly links story and mechanics to further your connection to the world.
Digital Spy: 5/5
Plot and cinematics are its greatest strengths, but when you factor in some of the finest graphics ever seen on the PS3 and the level of originality on offer, Quantic Dream’s masterpiece is worthy of superlatives.
If David Cage was aspiring to be like a Hollywood director, he’s succeeded with Beyond: Two Souls. Perhaps he can be best compared to George Lucas. Both are visionaries, with exciting views on the future of cinema and games, respectively. However, neither are particularly skilled storytellers. With Beyond, Cage shows us what the future of games could be–but ultimately fails to take us there.