Until I discovered Beyond: Two Souls, I thought I’d never find a game that I loved as much as the Mass Effect or KOTOR series. But then David Cage, founder of the French game studio Quantic Dream, blew my fricken mind. Starring Elliot Page (star of Juno, XMEN, and The Umbrella Academy), and William Dafoe, both of whom were rendered into the game through advanced motion capture that provided an incredibly realistic graphical experience, the game follows a young woman with psychic powers as she struggles to understand her gifts and take control of her destiny. It’s an action-storytelling game with an extra-strong emphasis on storytelling, but far more dynamic than most narrative games on the market today; it provides the sort of dynamic environments and deep player engagement that makes a video game so tantalizing, but never loses sight of what it ultimately is: an interactive story.
Why I love it
For those of you familiar with the Star Trek series’ and their use of a holodeck device to create storytelling experiences… this game feels like the precursor for that technology. David Cage managed to do something utterly different with this game, transforming the possibilities for what a video game could be. Don’t believe me yet? It might interest you to learn, then, where the game first premiered.
Despite its being a video game, Beyond: Two Souls first met audiences at the 2013 Tribecca Film Festival, instantly captivating critics and audiences alike. Plenty of critics were annoyed with the game’s lack of total player control, but those critics miss, in my opinion, the entire point. This isn’t a game where players get to smash the world to pieces whenever they feel like it. The inability to do certain things is less obvious than in some games where specific limitations (on, say, the ability to fire weapons) are apparent. Ultimate, Beyond: Two Souls is about providing an interactive story — a story that remains the focus. The ability to explore the world, to interact dynamically is far superior to many narrative-style games. Still, that narrative remains the core driving force behind the reason to play the game… and that is, to my mind, a good thing.
At the end of the day, this is a game that you will never be able to forget. It’s a game that non-gamers can play and enjoy, but one which will give experienced gamers something different than they’ve ever tried before. It’s a 2000-page interactive script featuring superb acting, a sublime soundtrack, and some utterly gorgeous visuals. It is, quite simply, one of the best games ever made.