Beyond Two Souls – Is It Really a Video Game?

Beyond Two Souls Guitar

After an intense roller coaster of emotions while playing Beyond: Two Souls, I left the experience wondering if it really was a video game I just played. As I think more about Beyond: Two Souls, it seems to be more of a movie rather than a game. The storyline is linear and the gameplay is minimal, along with starring two A-list actors, William Dafoe and Ellen Page, Beyond just seems to be a blockbuster.

Beyond: Two Souls follows the story of Jodie, a girl who for her entire life has been connected to this mysterious entity named Aiden. Aiden causes havoc all throughout Jodie’s life during events such as her rebelling in her teenage years, joining the CIA, and living out on the streets. This story is presented in disjointed sections, letting us participate in events from her life but not in chronological order.

The first reason why this game feels like a movie is the gameplay (or lack thereof). It feels like half the time you are just making Jodie walk wherever the camera directs you to while the other half takes away the control form you to show you loads of cutscenes. By doing such a minute thing as walking the audience just participates in the game by watching (I wonder what other medium involves doing that?). Also when you are making Jodie interact with items or move in an action sequence, it only requires a flick of the analog stick. This effortless motion seems to be the defining feature that makes it a game.

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Along with that Beyond Two Souls has a linear storyline which is uncommon for games of this type. Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us all use the same style of gameplay but each lets you carve your own story, making choices by your characters actions and dialogue. The game changes with your every decision, but during Beyond Two Souls each section seems to have the same ending and there are never any references to past choices you’ve made. It sticks strongly to the scripted story which makes you think what do you really do in this game?

It constantly takes the control from you for cutscenes. But you participate by pushing a button or flicking the analog stick. The story is never changing, sticking to a permanent script. By having this lack of interaction in Beyond Two Souls I’m convinced that when my eyes were glued to the TV screen I was participating by watching, exactly like a movie. I can conclude that B:TS isn’t much of a game. What are your thoughts?

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2 Comments

  1. Anna Williams February 12, 2014 5:12 am  Reply

    I think the ending is the only thing you have control over [spoilers] you can choose to go into the beyond and become the tramp’s baby’s guardian as Aiden was to you, or you can choose life and marry Ryan or whatever. Beyond sounds cooler. But agreed this seems to be a movie that failed to make it to the cinema so instead they settled for the gaming industry.

  2. Elliott Mondry February 12, 2014 1:22 pm  Reply

    I like to call BTS, TWD, Heavy Rain, and all of these types of games “interactive movies” rather than video games since they put so much emphasis on the story itself. A lot of times a game can lose its story by being so wrapped up in action and gameplay, which isn’t always bad. However, to make a truly compelling story that won’t be lost in the gameplay these types of titles are the way to go.

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