Review: Beyond—Two Souls (PS4)

Emotionally Drained and Confusing Souls

Developer: Quantic Dream

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Genre: Action, Adventure

Platforms: PS3, PS4 

Rating: M for Mature

Price: $29.99

 

With the intense, choice-making game Detroit: Become Human on the horizon, Sony released Quantic Dream’s preceding game, Beyond: Two Souls for free on PSN. Before Detroit‘s release, it also included a demo as an android negotiator which captured the hearts of many players. However,  Beyond: Two Souls was the experimental foundation which shared the heart and soul of their new product. We take a look at its merits.

Content

Spiritual Theme Content

Beyond: Two Souls focuses on the relationship between human female Jodie and the supernatural being Aiden. Aiden is only seen by Jodie, and could do anything everything that you would imagine a ghost or spirit could do.

Violent Content

There is a lot of fighting, killing, and blood in various chapters. People and creatures being hostile is quite common in the game.

Language Content

Police military folks, CIA agencies, and bad influenced friends have high percentages of using curse words in dialogue.

Sexual Content

There is indication of sexual encounter after intimately kissing a male character in the game. Sexual assault, and partial nudity of women taking a shower are also found in gameplay.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Some characters in game drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.

Review

Beyond: Two Souls turned out to be a much more intense emotionally drained experience than I ever expected. The game successfully connected me with the main character Jodie’s inner world, especially the emotional aspect, to make me actually feel like her and walk in her shoes. However, because it is so intense emotionally drained, I could not play through it all at once; instead, I had to break the game into small sections each time.

When you first enter the game, you will face a lot of options, such as various difficulty levels. The game have options to accommodate new video game players and more experienced players on the complexity of the controls, which means that the latter requires better responses on your controller. You can also choose between your choice to have more or less impact on the story, or how much you want your mistakes to impact your story negatively. And finally, you can choose solo play or co-op play since there are technically two different playable characters in the game.

As soon as the story opened up, it immediately reminded me the TV series Stranger Things, particularly the journey of Eleven, the girl with super powers and connection with the Upside Down dimension. I know the game is not based on the TV show, but they do share a lot of similarities in their content. Jodie is the main female character in Beyond: Two Souls, born with ability to connect with supernatural being Aiden. After being mistreated by parents and peers, Jodie was sent to an institute for training, experiments, and studies. Even after her joining the CIA, her life still has a lot of suffering, pain, and troubles. I know Eleven did not walk the same path Jodie, but if she were not rescued, she might end up becoming a weapon for the government instead.

Like I said before, it is a very emotionally draining journey with Jodie. With all the choices and motion controls, the game really makes me feel like I am connected with the character. It may be good for the developer, but for me, it became heavier and heavier when I progress further the storyline. All the sequences do not occur in order, although you do have option to choose all gameplay to happen sequentially. But just because of the original design of memories in different ages, places, and with different people, it messed with my head in the way that I found myself not knowing what is going on except clinging on the characters that I control. That connected me with Jodie, and I felt what she felt, and thought what she did, with all the fear, stress, anxiety, anger, confusion being on one messy plate. Because of its intensity, I had to limit my gameplay sessions so that  I could handle each time. Even for players who have super strong mental power, I still would not recommend to play it through all at once.

Controls are a little tricky sometimes, especially for the more experienced player option. The game requires you to perform more complex controls within a small time window when all the actions happening on the screen. If you miss an action with controls, your character may get injured or your story may suffer from making mistakes. Therefore, if you care more about the story, just choose the simpler controls options and less impact on mistakes, and that will make your gameplay easier in a good way by avoiding frustration. Camera angles are often quite bad, especially when you use Aiden to move around objects or across walls. Everything turns into a gray blurry mess for a while by using Aiden’s supernatural flying around ability. It will greatly save a lot of time and energy if the camera would respond smoothly and accurately.

As the story progresses, more violence and blood will occur in gameplay. More people die, more bodies found, more creatures attack, and more blood is shed in later episodes. In the same way, the story gets more intense by having more violent, scary, and gory moments. One of the most terrible sections of the game features Jodie investigating a building invaded by the creatures. You can interact with the bodies to see how they got attacked in a scary movie presentation. Honestly, that is not a gameplay experience that I desire for games.

After that section, I simply had to give myself a time out, and try to get all the things that I saw and heard out of my head. I like my video games to draw people in and produce happiness, but not to push people out and cause negative effects. I understand that the game wants to create emotional experience for players, but I do not see the necessary to put player’s mental health wellness on trial. Even as a mental health professional myself, I would not recommend anyone who has trouble on anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or phobias to ever attempt trying on this game, ever.

Besides all of the negative emotional intensity, mature content is another caution here in this game. Sex, drug, alcohol, smoking, bloody gore, intense violence, and strong language, Beyond: Two Souls is NOT for children, youth, and any adults who have strong moral understanding and any conditions of mental health wellness.

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The Bottom Line

Parents do not buy Beyond: Two Souls for your children and youth. It is also not for adults who have strong moral standards and who have any conditions of mental health wellness.

 

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Karen Kennedy

Born and raised in China, living in the Southern United States. Educated with Doctoral degree of Professional Counseling. Passionate to put positive energy to the gaming world, and devoted to Christian ministry for the gaming community. Founder and Leader of Mighty Grace Positive Gaming. Love video games, board games, role play, table top, drawing, anime and manga. Stream on Twitch.tv/mightygrace Favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. Favorite Pokemon is Pikachu. Favorite Game series are the Elder Scrolls, all Blizzard games, Horizon Zero Dawn, Assassin's Creed, and Zelda.

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