Omg a new facet of Novelarnia! Game revieeeews. 😀 Super excited to add this, mostly because I tend to play games that give me feelz, and then I need to rant about them. I’ll announce SPOILERS further down, so if you haven’t played this game and don’t want them, stop when you see that tag!
So here we go! Most recently finished game:
Becki’s Rating: 7/10
BEYOND: Two Souls is the story of Jodie, a girl with a supernatural connection to an incorporeal creature named Aiden. Aiden follows Jodie everywhere, but he sometimes has a bit of a temper, which causes problems for Jodie. The game chronicles her life as she explores what Aiden is, exactly.
The game took me about 30 hours. I initially started on their “hard” setting, which is classified as “I play video games often.” Except when you take control of Aiden, his movement was clumsy and awkward, and when Jodie’s combat started, I failed miserably. So I switched to the easy setting, “I never play video games.” Not true in the slightest, but it did make for a more enjoyable gameplay experience.
Other than the awkward movement and weird style of combat, I enjoyed this game. I was riveted by Jodie’s escapades. The story is nonlinear (although there’s an option to play chronologically), and it was fun to piece together the mysteries presented.
My biggest problem came with the multitude of alternate endings. Like, I get that’s hard to pull off. You want to make us feel that actions have consequences… but like in Life is Strange, they just don’t. The story progresses the same way whether you kill the bar-going sleezebags or set that chick’s house on fire or… well, you get it. The only difference is in the very last mission. For a game that insists you have a choice of how things wind up, you really don’t.
That relates to my major issue with this game: the irrelevance of your decisions, and how the developers tried to manipulate your emotions through those decisions.
Let’s look at Africa, where Jodie has to kill the president in her first solo mission. By this point, Aiden has already proved he can strangle or possess whoever he wants. Why did Jodie need to grab that gun and make the biggest mess possible? It was like the game designers trying to throttle me with feels: you made a bad move and you’re a terrible person, Jodie! BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!
Except, oh yeah, she had blood on her hands WAY before that mission, so don’t even. There are so many options to kill before this mission that the emotional payoff here felt cheap and undeserved. Ryan lied, yes. And he was a douchebag for it. But Jodie, you’re the one who insisted on massacring eight other people when you could have quietly strangled the one you needed. So forgive me if I don’t really care about your angst.
Second example: the submarine mission. The way I played it, Jodie drowned. Ryan did CPR, but her lips were fucking blue, man. He laid beside her (awww…. feeeeelz), and resigned himself to death too. Then his teammates found them, and in the next chapter… Jodie’s magically back? No explanation about what happened, or how she survived.
And hence, every decision up to that point was cheapened. After the Dragon’s Den, I lost the game. Jodie died. But her story wasn’t done, so the developers decided to just ignore her obvious death and keep me playing. No harm, no foul!
Which is frustrating, because it basically means that no matter what horrendous things I do with Jodie or Aiden, no one will change their perception of me. The game goes on… the same train barreling down a set track, no matter what.
You want a good example of these multiple choice games? Check out Mass Effect. Shepherd’s actions have REAL consequences, and genuinely change how her teammates react to her. Ruin one conversation, and you can literally close off potential relationships with that character in the future. But Jodie’s story? Meh. Didn’t make a difference in the end, did it?
But here’s the thing. Knowing that, seeing this game’s flaws… it still doesn’t change the fact that I really enjoyed playing it. There were moments when I was yelling at the TV (“Don’t go in there, Jodie! Stop being an idiot!”) but they don’t quite erase the other moments that hit me.
Jodie cowering on the bed, clutching her bunny.
Jodie channeling Nathan’s wife and daughter.
Jodie closing her dead mother’s eyes.
I think what made me feel the most for her was the moment Ryan came to collect her for the CIA. Because when Nathan stepped down and let her go, that’s when you realize Jodie was given away as a child. No home is really home for her. Nathan was her father-figure, but he wasn’t family. She has no one… no one but Aiden. It was heartbreaking to see, and made the ending discovery of Aiden’s true identity–and subsequent loss–all the more gut-wrenching.
So overall, I think my rating is fair. There were moments of poor storytelling, where the developers tried to conjure emotions in a cheap way. But they were equally balanced by heartfelt scenes that stick with you long after you’re done playing. Add in the creative plot and fun player aspects of controlling a ghost, and this game is definitely worth a look!
Have you played BEYOND: Two Souls? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!