“I really don’t know what to think, I am waiting for things to start moving”
That quote about sums up a majority of the experience my wife and I had with Beyond: Two Souls. The game itself, if we can really call it a game, has been received with pretty mixed reviews. As many people wanted to see what my wife thought of a game due to its more cinematic approach, I undertook the task to take it for a spin.
WARNING: Inferred spoilers below concerning major plot developments and ending(s)
To start things off, my wife found that Jodie’s ghost companion, Aiden (pronounced EYE-den), made her feel a little uncomfortable. This was likely because our oldest son shares the same name, albeit pronounced phonetically correct. Throughout the game, if I slipped up and pronounced Aiden’s name traditionally, I was quickly corrected that I was incorrect.
Vicki seemed a bit confused at the fractured story of Jodie and Aiden, but for the most part she seemed to feel bad for Jodie’s plight.
“It seems like despite anything she does, she always ends up being a victim”.
However, where I decided to take the moral high road in many situations (such as the teenage party), my wife wanted me to be a bit more… vengeful with my use of Aiden. She seemed perfectly okay with me using Aiden as more of a weapon, when able, rather that a disembodied partner.
While we were going through the game, my wife told me that, “Pacing definitely seems to be an issue here, doesn’t it?”. She was right, the game’s story doesn’t only jump around like a sugar-loaded child, but it also likes to go from scene-to-scene with little to know action that are obviously filler to action sequences that you’d see out of a typical Hollywood thriller. “The characters look good though, right?” she added in.
Leave it to my wife to try to find the silver lining.
While playing through a scene, she remarked “It doesn’t really look like you are doing too much during the game, are you basically just moving Jodie or Aiden towards the next movie part of the game?”. I told her that was mostly the case, she said “Well, that is a bummer, I bet you’d rather play a game with a little more going on, but I do want to see where this story goes.”
As we got further into the story, my wife would often remark to me that many moments of the game felt “really forced” or “very predictable”. One of the scenes that came to mind was the scene where Jodie meets a young boy in a war ravaged Africa that requires your help. Not only was she easily able to guess the major plot twist regarding this child, but was also pretty irritated at the massive plot hole that involves the child as soon as the plot twist becomes apparent.
In fact, as she put it so clearly “about 3/4 of the way through the game, the story jumps on auto pilot and really becomes absolutely predictable”. It was pretty rough. As the huge “twists” start to happen, we both were kind of left with odd chuckles and I told you so’s. In fact my wife commented in the last few chapters that “only the Navajo chapter and the chapter where Jodie is homeless have any soul at all.” She also commented that the twist about Aiden “really wasn’t a surprise at all and would have been better told at the start of things than at the end of the game”.
When I got to the absolute end of the game, I was presented with a list of ending options that I could choose with button presses. I’d go back to show her most of them but she already knew what I was thinking, “So even though you had to go all throughout the game and make choices and shape the lives of people that Jodie and Aiden meet, it all ends with you just choosing what ending you want? I am sorry, that’s pretty lame”.
She was right though, Beyond: Two Souls is pretty lame.
Before I get to her opinion on the wrap up, I really want to point something out. David Cage’s offerings up to this point weren’t half bad. Heavy Rain had some quirks and Fahrenheit was probably a bit more ambitious than most players expected but the games felt original and had a massive amount of personality. Beyond: Two Souls really lacks any of that and really comes up disappointingly flat and bland.
So, on to Vicki’s opinion on the game. After wrapping things up a bit and showing her a few endings she gave me her feedback on the game. “I’ve watched you play tons of games while we have done this piece, it’s really easy to tell when you are involved in a game or just trying to get to the next piece of the story. The funny thing about this game is that I felt like that too. Watching the story initially was exciting and I was anxious to see where things went. As the story progressed, it got boring and I just hoped you’d get through the next scene quick enough so I could just see how the story ends. Even with the ending, it really doesn’t make much sense at all. It feels like this was just a prequel to a ‘real game’ but there were so many odd plot holes that aren’t answered at the end that I have to wonder if they just phoned it in to wrap things up. I’m sorry you had to play it.”