**There is only a single spoiler that is revealed in the opening ten minutes in this review about the characters you’ll play**
As the current generation draws to a close over the next 18 months some really amazing corkers have been appearing and one of them I’m worried will be lost in the melee is the quite mesmerising Beyond Two Souls. Beyond blurs the line between game and film in a way that is a step up from Heavy Rain and offers plenty of interactivity in a seamless flow much like the very old Dragon’s Lair games. You see Beyond Two Souls is an interactive story where you control the two main characters and their fate throughout the game.
The first thing you’ll notice is the beauty of the worlds and the characters. Detail is an understatement. Sometimes it’s genuinely difficult to tell if it’s a human or a computer generated person. The skin and the water textures are phenomenal and the detail in motion capture is second to none. There’s a fluidity to everyone and their movements. Sometimes I found myself just stopping and watching what the background gets up to. On a TV there’s entire cartoons playing out if you wanted to sit and watch them. Out in the street characters are moving around with purpose. Another shout out needs to be made for the variation of locales too. Most games go for a colour palette and stick with it. Here you’ll cover the globe and enjoy every set.
Of course motion capture is nothing if there is no story or the gameplay mechanics are broken. The gameplay is split firmly into two sections as you swap between characters and the onscreen prompts have been simplified from Heavy Rain. Now instead of symbols there’s just white dots on interactive objects. At first I thought I’d miss out things because the dots are quite small but it’s surprising how your eyes manage to detect them with ease. When playing in action sequences you’ll have the odd button mash or holding down of several buttons but those are far fewer than Quantic Dreams’ previous games. Instead cinematic sequences are played with the right stick to push in the direction that the character of Jodie is going. It is also more forgiving for errors which makes enjoying the story easier to do as in my playthrough I needed no restarts. The character of Aiden is controlled by using both sticks like a floaty flight simulator and that’s because he is a floating soul. It’s great fun to float through walls, people and interacting with objects. His controls involve more patience and sometimes making sure you’ve got the right elevation requires a bit of nifty manoeuvring but in the grande scheme of things, the controls handle well and don’t cause many issues at all.
In fact the story is as much untold as it is given to you and that’s because Aiden is a blank slate for you to paste a personality on. Whilst a lot of your choices don’t initially make a difference until they are presented to you at the end with Jodie, Aiden’s personality can shape a lot of the scene content you get. Without getting spoilerific you can be a good soul or a naughty soul. At the opening of the game you do an experiment of guessing cards through a wall. Controlling Aiden you float through the wall and tell Jodie what the cards are. However you can then go nuts and start overturning tables and freaking out the lady in the other room until she’s screaming and banging at the door wanting to escape. You can also just show off your skills and help the situation out. The beauty of it is that often you’re given no guidance to stop, but those white dots over so many objects tempt you into doing all these naughty things. If you want to be good, you’ll need to exercise buckets of will power! The story’s arc itself is ingenious as it takes place over a 15 year period, jumping around from child to teen to adult as you slowly piece together the puzzle. The acting is A-class. Ellen Page, Willem Defoe and Kadeem Hardison lead the cast with aplomb and never has voice acting being portrayed so well. There’s no “JASSSOOOON” moments here (although they were a guilty pleasure)
Beyond Two Souls is a triumph from start to finish. A delight to play, watch, enjoy, react and interact with. I’ve not tried the two player mode where you play a character each but I can imagine that being amazing if played with the right people. Easily the most cinematic and engrossing game I’ve played from a story telling game/movie perspective. My verdict? Buy, buy and buy.