Ellen Page. Willem Dafoe.
These two names alone would have you thinking that the stars of Inception and Spider Man would be co-starring in a new blockbuster movie. Instead, both are appearing in a game entitled “Beyond: Two Souls” developed by Quantum Dream and published by Sony, exclusively for the PS3.
In recent history, Sony has had some powerful exclusive titles on the Playstation 3 including Uncharted, God of War and Heavy Rain, to name but a few. With Sony having such a strong back catalogue however, I believe that the strongest exclusive Sony has had may prove to be a hindrance on the success of Beyond: Two Souls. This “strongest” exclusive game I am referring to is The Last of Us. I have only played around 30 minutes of Beyond but, within that time, I have managed to see some comparisons between both Beyond and TLOU and why I think Naughty Dog’s latest hit could hurt Beyond: Two Souls.
A quick overview of what the game’s story involves; Jodie (Ellen Page) has paranormal powers due to her mysterious entity, called Aiden, and you explore what effect this has had on her life from childhood to adulthood. Jodie is the only person who is able to communicate with Aiden and he has been with Jodie ever since she was born. Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe) is a government scientist who works with Jodie studying her power but also acts like a surrogate father.
Even before I had played any of the game, the first thing I thought of when I looked at trailers for Beyond was, “Why is Ellie from The Last of Us in this game?” The build-up I remember to this game was the fallout between Ellen Page and The Last of Us after she claimed that Naughty Dog had, “Used her likeness,” when creating Ellie. While this isn’t direct comparisons between the two games here, I believe that this may have an impact on some sales for Beyond as die-hard fans of TLOU may think that Ellen Page is overreacting when she made those claims and TLOU fans may have become disinterested in the Beyond.
Moving onto the gameplay for Beyond, I played the short demo that was available from Wednesday 2nd of October via the PSN Store. As I had played it last night, I had seen some people comparing the game to Heavy Rain which I have never played. Although the sections I had played were only on the demo, I could still grasp an understanding of the controls and the way which the game worked. The game doesn’t use much of the controller for the majority of the experience, which may suit some due to its simple control system.
The game looks excellent; graphically wise it is one of the best looking games this generation. That being said, the game suffers from this as Beyond focuses too much on the quick time events (QTE’s) and takes away the freedom of playing a game how you want to play it. At times through the demo, I was reminded of a certain Resident Evil 6 which terribly returned to our consoles a year ago, yesterday. The buttons are constantly coming up on the screen telling you what to press and it feels as though the game is holding your hand through the game, as far as I played anyway. In the times where you do have full control of Jodie, you are allowed to explore certain things and it feels as
though you can play the game as you wish. This feeling doesn’t last as you are constantly watching and interacting with QTE’s.
In the brief demo I have played, it is clear that the game has been designed to make you care for and have an emotional bond with Jodie. As you have to play as Jodie when she is a child, through her teenage years and into adulthood, it is clear that emotion is a huge part of the game. With what I have played so far, it is clear to see that Beyond may be trying too hard to try and make you care about Jodie. The Last of Us looked at a relationship between someone who had seen it all (Joel) and someone who grew up and all they had known was this apocalyptic world (Ellie).
The Last of Us allows you to feel so many different emotions in the game and which is why it is one of my favourite games of all-time, never mind this generation. At times you feel angry, sad, happy, anxious and concerned for things going on around you. With Beyond, I feel as though they have tried to depict Jodie as an innocent character all the way through the demo and tries to make you feel sorry for her from the word go. It doesn’t show you too much of this in the demo as it mostly looks at the gameplay but, in a trailer contained in the gameplay, it shows you briefly what Jodie has to overcome.
With the game having two blockbuster names as the leading cast, Beyond had huge potential to be a great send-off for the PS3 before November. The story seemed interesting, the graphics and voice acting is wonderful. But, similar to TLOU, the demo may harm sales of the game as it isn’t what everyone thought it was going to be. TLOU did go onto sell vast numbers after originally receiving some mediocre reactions to the demo early on. I feel as though I am experiencing the same with Beyond but in terms of an overall package, however, I still feel as though TLOU will offer you more.
In regards to both the storytelling and gameplay of these games, they revolve around a hugely in-depth story that looks at different themes and ethical decisions the character makes. Beyond looks as though it has a brilliant story but, along with a great storyline the game must have at least decent gameplay to complete the experience.
TLOU had both the amazing storyline and great gameplay to make the game the complete package and that is why I think TLOU has stolen some of Beyond’s thunder. TLOU is the complete game and allows the player to play the game as they wish. Beyond seems as though it was made for the big screen and scaled down for the PS3. The QTE sections require some work sometimes but, everything feels so scripted. After playing through the demo once, I wasn’t eager for more or looking to see what I could do next, I was glad that I could play Grand Theft Auto V once again and play a game how I want to play it instead of constant QTE segments.
I can’t help feel slightly let down with what I have played so far but, this seems to be the way with demos these days. They can often do more harm than good and I think that some people may be put off by Beyond: Two Souls. If you are looking for a game to sell you a PS3 this late in the console cycle, I believe that a reduced copy of The Last of Us may be what you’re looking for as it has an all-round Oscar winning performance whereas Beyond: Two Souls, from what I’ve played, could go straight to DVD.