Well we can definitely chalk Beyond Two Souls up as another gem on the PS3. It was one of those games that intrigued me when it was released back in 2013, but not enough to drop so much money on. I later picked it up after the PS4 was launched because it was around $16 and that felt right at the time. What followed was a demi-“scary”, really interesting life-story about a girl who is possessed by a spirit that gives her some funky powers akin to telekinesis (not the full on cool stuff though, but you can force-choke people…) plus some extras. You follow Jodie through her life with this entity in a home for gifted kids as they test her to see what she’s capable of. If only that was it… actually that would be a sucky game. Let’s keep going.
So as Jodie grows up with Dr. Nathan Dawkins and Cole Freeman (the cooler of the two side characters) as they are the ones in charge of raising Jodie because her foster parents (well… her foster-father) couldn’t handle the issues Jodie had growing up learning to deal with the entity attached to her. It was kind of understandable although he didn’t have to be such a jerk about it. The foster-mother was fantastic, but it takes two to raise a confused and entity-possessed little girl apparently. They end up giving full custody to the Doc and she grows up without being able to go outside whenever she wants and more hangs out when the conditions are right… like birthday parties with kids of related families to those working at this… foundation? I don’t really remember what it’s called. It’s a weird childhood, for sure, and I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
That does bring in the main issue I had with Beyond Two Souls. Since Jodie was brought up in a horrible situation (no matter how nice Nathan and Cole were), she did grow up to be an angsty teen and with all the angsty-teen attitude/mood-swings that go along with it. I really don’t like to experience it in real life nor do I watch that on TV. Playing it in a videogame doesn’t make it feel any better. This was only a shortish part of the story, but it was the lowest part of the game. I had picked the game up a while back and had only decided to play it after watching someone else play some stealth elements and it looked pretty cool. That would apparently come later. Until then, I had to play through Jodie’s goth phase with some rock’n solo guitar riffs.
While the time spent as a teen and younger was not my favorite part of the story, it was an essential part of it for character development and I even enjoyed the part of the story at the end (which I won’t spoil) that you spent as a young girl. The game, however, shined when Jodie was older and part of the CIA and when she was “on the run”. This wasn’t an action game as much as it was a story about Jodie and her entity-buddy. This made for some cool action scenes, but I would have preferred more stealth. Sometimes that’s not an option and some of the actions you almost “had” to take really bothered my inner paladin. On the same note, the action/QTE scenes were well done and felt like the right method to go with. Take note game developers, if you’re going to use QTE’s, stick with QTE’s the whole way through. Randomly shoving them in a game and doing it well doesn’t happen very often.
There is a lot of despair in this game as the story they are conveying is a rough one. They touched on suicide a few times in Beyond Two Souls and it felt impersonal in how they conveyed it. It was such a “simple choice” at certain times and nonchalantly put in at others. Having dealt with suicide during my lifetime, this kind of bothered me because it is hard to convey all of the darkness that goes through a person’s heart when they are in that stage of grief. I don’t think that it shouldn’t be in games, but when it is, it should have more context. How would one go about doing that? I don’t have a clue in the slightest, but it still lingered on my heart even a month or so after finishing the game. It’s simply a tough subject to broach.
Further Reading For Beyond Two Souls: Official Page