Beyond: Two Souls
|Beyond: Two Souls|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Producer(s)||Guillaume de Fondaumiere|
(Score produced by
|Genre(s)||Interactive drama, action-adventure|
Beyond: Two Souls is an interactive drama action-adventure video game for the PlayStation 3 console, developed by Quantic Dream. It was released on 8 October 2013 in North America, 9 October 2013 in Australia, 11 October 2013 in Europe and 17 October 2013 in Japan.
The game stars Jodie Holmes, one of the two player characters. The other is a ghost named Aiden, a separate soul who has been linked to Jodie since birth. Jodie is portrayed by actress Ellen Page, who provided voice acting and motion capture performance for the role; Willem Dafoe co-stars as Nathan Dawkins, researcher in the Department of Paranormal Activity and Jodie's father-figure.
Players primarily control Jodie, moving her through the in-game environments. At almost any time, however, the player can switch to control of Aiden instead. Aiden, as an incorporeal entity, exists permanently in noclip mode and can move through walls, ceilings and other obstacles; however, he is limited to within a certain radius around Jodie due to their spiritual tethering.
When playing as Jodie, interactable objects are marked with a white dot, and can be accessed by tilting the right thumbstick in that direction; additionally, icons may pop up on the screen to prompt players to press and/or hold certain controller buttons. Conversation prompts float in the air, bound to face buttons. During action scenes like foot chases or hand-to-hand combat, the cinematography will sometimes move into slow motion whilst Jodie is performing a physical maneuver. During this time, the player is intended to determine the direction Jodie is moving, and push the right thumbstick in that direction to complete the action.
When playing as Aiden, the game becomes monochromatic, with some objects highlighted by a halo in one of several colors. Aiden can apply himself to these objects, with the color of halo indicating his manner of interaction: orange people can be possessed, red people strangled, and blue objects pushed around. Jodie frequently calls upon Aiden to aid her in her adventures; for instance, in just one operation Aiden might be called upon to: short out some security cameras; knock over furniture to rouse a sleeping guard; possess said guard to gain access to his keycard and unlock a door, and; cause the poor fellow to run into a wall, knocking him out and allowing Jodie free run of the place. Aiden's other powers include: forming a shield around Jodie, protecting her from physical harm; transmitting information from a physical object to Jodie, granting her limited ability to see the past; and healing some wounds.
The game's story is told in nonlinear narrative, with chapters out of order. They are clarified by a timeline graphic, in which each chapter (and its relative place) is highlighted. For clarity and brevity, this article takes events in chronological order.
Eight year old Jodie Holmes (Caroline Wolfson) lives on a military base with her foster parents, Philip and Susan. Since birth, Jodie has had a strange psychic connection with a mysterious entity named Aiden, through whom she can perform many strange and often frightening telepathic acts, such as possessing peoples' minds, strangling them to death, and manipulating certain objects. After an incident with some neighborhood kids results in Aiden almost killing them, Jodie's foster parents seek psychiatric help for her condition. This eventually leads them to doctors Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe) and Cole Freeman (Kadeem Hardison) of the Department of Paranormal Activity with whom they leave her indefinitely.
Under the two doctors' care, Jodie slowly learns to control Aiden and the powers they share. During this time, Nathan learns that his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident, which leaves him depressed. In trying to comfort him, Jodie discovers that she can channel spirits of the dead to help them talk to the living through a psychic link caused by physical contact with the living. Being able to talk to his family brings Nathan comfort. As the years pass, Jodie (Ellen Page) seeks her independence, both from the doctors and from Aiden, and tries several times to live a normal life. Each attempt ends in disaster and results in her having to be saved by Aiden.
At one point, Nathan is informed by his superiors that their condenser, a portal which connects the world of the living with the world of the dead, called the Infraworld, is going haywire and they ask for Jodie's help. After braving hostile entities, Jodie manages to shut the condenser down and warns Nathan not to let them build another. This gets the attention of the CIA, who send agent Ryan Clayton (Eric Winter) to forcibly recruit Jodie. After weeks of training, she passes and is made an agent. She goes on multiple missions, often with Ryan, whom she slowly becomes attracted to. Depending on the player's choice, Jodie can enter a romantic relationship with Ryan.
Eventually, Jodie is sent to Somalia to assassinate a warlord. With the help of Aiden and a young boy named Salim, she succeeds. One of the casualties of the attack is revealed to be Salim's father, turning him on her just as she is picked up by Ryan. On a plane ride back to base, Jodie is enraged to hear on the news that the man she killed wasn't a warlord but the country's benign president. Despite Ryan's pleas, she flees in disgust. Branded a traitor, she flees across the country from CIA forces, whom she has to fight many times. Along the way, she befriends a group of homeless people, one of whom she helps give birth, and a family of Native Americans whom she saves from a malevolent entity.
Eventually, Jodie contacts Cole, who she asks to find her real mother. He manages to find her mother, Norah Gray, in a mental hospital, where she's been catatonic since Jodie's birth. Upon linking with her, Jodie learns that Norah had a similar link to an entity which the CIA feared made her a danger to both herself and Jodie. So after she had her, she was injected with a serum that left her catatonic. Upset by this, Jodie reluctantly has Aiden euthanize Norah. To make matters worse, she's promptly captured by the CIA right after.
The CIA hands Jodie over to Nathan, who is now the executive director of the DPA. He reveals to Jodie that the CIA is willing to let her go and live her life if they do them one last favor. After a briefing, it is revealed that a Chinese military facility is planning to unleash the Infraworld against the United States by building their own condenser. Desperate to keep the condenser technology exclusive to the CIA and its allies, the CIA sends Jodie to destroy the condenser. Ryan and her old colleagues at the CIA are sent in as her support team, where tensions are still present. Trekking across heavily snowing fields, the team manages to follow a convoy to the facility, where Jodie and Ryan, disguised in the uniforms of two deceased soldiers, take a pilfered submarine to the base, only to be captured. To make matters worse, Aiden is separated from Jodie by a containment field meant to keep entities away from the living. Luckily, he manages to deactivate the containment field, unleashing the other entities on the soldiers, and frees Jodie and Ryan. Jodie destroys the condenser and they make their escape.
Back at the CIA, Jodie is seemingly let go and given a new identity. However, before she leaves, Nathan reveals a miniaturized condenser he built to speak exclusively to his family. Unfortunately, when he and Jodie perform the psychic link, she realizes that his actions are making them suffer and leaves him to consider this. When she tries to leave, however, she's recaptured by the CIA. CIA head General McGrath informs her that she's been deemed too dangerous and they're going to do to her what they did to her mother. To make matters worse, Nathan soon appears and informs Jodie that he's decided to shut down the containment field to the DPA's newest condenser, merging the two worlds together and making death meaningless. Too weak to free Jodie, Aiden contacts Ryan and Cole and leads them to her. After Nathan succeeds in shutting down the containment field, the three chase after him into the heart of the condenser, codenamed the Black Sun, with the intent of destroying it.
During the trek towards the Black Sun, Cole is injured by entities and Ryan sacrifices his own safety to keep Jodie going. Eventually, she confronts Nathan near the Black Sun, where (depending on the player's choice) she either talks sense into him, causing him to commit suicide, or failing that, has Aiden kill him. Either way, Nathan reunites with his family and points Jodie forward. As Jodie shuts down the control to the condenser, she has a series of visions which makes her realize who Aiden is: her twin brother who was stillborn. After turning off the machine, Jodie ends up in a corridor, where the player makes a choice: to go back to the world of the living, or to go on to the Infraworld.
If the player chooses to return, Jodie, Cole, and Ryan all survive the explosion of the condenser, but she loses the psychic connection with Aiden. Finally left alone, Jodie's memories of the past slowly become scrambled and she decides to start a whole new life. At this point, the player chooses whether Jodie's new life is alone, with her homeless friends (who are no longer homeless), with the Native Americans, or with Ryan. Choosing to be alone or one of the latter two reveals that Aiden is still floating around. Choosing the Infraworld results in Ryan and Cole surviving only to discover Jodie's corpse. Jodie keeps watch over her living loved ones while having a psychic connection with Zoey.
Prior to the end-credits, the InfraWorld has become a widespread threat in the not-so-distant future, leaving a variation of either Jodie, an adult Zoey (if Jodie chose the Infraworld), or the both of them (if Jodie stayed with her homeless friends) preparing to confront the threat.
Quantic Dream CEO David Cage first announced Beyond: Two Souls at Sony's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. A debut trailer featuring in-game graphics was released during the press conference. Unlike Quantic Dream's previous game Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls was not to be PlayStation Move compatible. Actress Ellen Page noted that the script for the game was around 2000 pages long. Like earlier games by Cage which have been called "wrought psychological thrillers" it is implored that emotional narrative was and has been an important point in the development of the game.
Beyond: Two Souls was the final project of composer Normand Corbeil, who died of pancreatic cancer on 25 January 2013. Composer Lorne Balfe, who composed the soundtrack for Assassin's Creed III, replaced Corbeil as the game's composer, after Corbeil's death. Balfe's long-time collaborator Hans Zimmer joined him as producer in August 2013.
On 27 April 2013, a new trailer was released, and 35 minutes of the game were screened at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival with both Page and Cage in attendance. This marks the second time a video game has been recognized by the film festival, the first time being 2011's L.A. Noire.
On 5 September 2013 it was announced via the PlayStation Blog that a demo for Beyond: Two Souls would be released 1 October 2013 in the United States, 2 October for Europe and 3 October for Japan. Despite the demo's official release, a few users of the paid subscription service PlayStation Plus received the demo earlier than the expected release date which is 24 September 2013. GameStop gave out a limited number of beta keys on the 24th of September 2013, allowing gamers to play the demo before its official release. The European version of the game is censored to keep the PEGI rating at 16 instead of 18. Two changes were made to the version, amounting to 5–10 seconds of gameplay.
Beyond: Two Souls received mixed to positive critical reception upon release. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic rated the game 72.04% and 70/100. Reviewers praised Ellen Page's character portrayal of Jodie Holmes, many of the other actors' performances, and the amount of technical details in the game's animations and graphics. Praise was also generally given toward the elaborate motion capture and the game's emotional soundtrack.
IGN criticized the game for making the gaming experience too passive and unrewarding, and its plot too muddy and unfocused. Joystiq criticized its lack of solid character interaction and unbelievable plot, noting its unintended silliness. Destructoid criticized the game's thin character presentation and frequent narrative dead ends, as well as a lack of meaningful interactivity.
It was reported on January 10, 2014 that Beyond: Two Souls sold one million copies in 2013.
Beyond Two Souls sold over 70,000 copies in France, which was better than Quantic Dream's previous game, Heavy Rain, did in its first 12 weeks of availability in France.
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