Beyond: Two Souls is Quantic Dream’s latest, and most ambitious game yet. With some very impressive names behind the game, such as David Cage (writer & director) and Ellen Page & Willem Dafoe (voice acting), you would expect big things from the game. However, if you have seen some of the reviews, you may get a different picture. Read on to see what we thought of the new Playstation 3 exclusive.

Beyond: Two Souls was a difficult review for me. I spent a long time contemplating how to approach the review, and, in particular, the final score which I would give the game. The game (like other projects by Quantic Dream) is not a game in the traditional sense, but more an interactive story. Anyone familiar with their popular release Heavy Rain will have an understanding of the way the studio approaches video games.

The game focuses around a girl named Jodie (Ellen Page) who is tied to a supernatural spirit who has the ability to manipulate real-world objects and people. This presence was with her at birth, and remains with her throughout her childhood (which we see within the story). The name of this supernatural entity is Aiden (‘eye-den’). Her parents eventually leave her with a scientist (Nathan Dawkins, player by Willem Dafeo) who studies her condition.

One thing I will note immediately, is that the game does not have the strongest story. The game does manage to make up for this story, however, and I encourage you to remain with us to find out how, however, if you are not a fan of interactive stories, then, you definitely will not like Beyond: Two Souls. Although there is a substantial amount of gameplay, this is mainly just to keep the player engaged and forward on the story. I enjoyed the game, however, many may find this type of game boring and disjointed. Some of the scenes feel ‘wrong’, such as those regarding a failing love romance side-plot, however, I won’t spoil any further detail on that.

The game follows 15 years in the life of Jodie, however, the game shifts from one period to another, mixing sequences of early childhood, adulthood and adolescence. Some players may find the experience confusing and enjoyable, however, fitting together the pieces of the story was something I enjoyed doing in between the main sequences. There are some fantastic scenes within the mix, however, there are an equal number of mundance scenes to match.

In terms of gameplay, Jodie is the main character who you control using most of the buttons on the Dualshock 3, depending on the action. For example, climbing a wall will involve a series of controls such as ‘Right Stick Up’ to pull upwards, ‘L2′ and ‘R2′ for climbing with the left and right feet, and a repetitive pressing of ‘X’ for the final pull over the edge of the surface being climbed. I personally found the control system great, and very easy to get used to. It is definitely one of the flawless parts of the game.

Some of the gameplay sequences are outstanding, and offer high-tension experiences to the game. For those who wish to stick mainly towards the interactive story side of the game, completing the button sequences is usually not compulsory, and has little impact on the game. For example, Jodie is trying to escape by running through a forest in one sequence. You are tasking with controlling her movements as she ducks under branches, or jumps over logs, however, if you choose not to complete the button sequences, it will have no impact on the events of the game. It leaves the options open to players, so they can choose which style of play they wish to utilise.

Aiden can also be controlled by the player (or a second player). With a simple push of TRIANGLE, you can switch to Aiden at almost any point within the gameplay sequences. This will allow you to move objects, possess humans, open doors and variety of other things, all of which are essential to allowing Jodie to pass. Both Aiden and Jodie rely on each other, and, you will see a love/hate relationship develop and unfold between them throughout the game. Controlling Aiden is another enjoyable element, which introduces puzzle gameplay to Beyond. Unfortunately, the scope for exploration in the game is quite limited, as Aiden is essentially locked-down to Jodie, leaving his movement a little limited.

The most impressive elements of Beyond: Two Souls, and the places in which it redeems itself, are in graphics and story-presentation. To kick off the praise, I will start with presentation. The voice acting for both main characters (Jodie and Nathan) is absolutely outstanding; I cannot fault it in any way. Both of the voice actors lend their experience to bring some of the best voice acting work I have seen in some time. Couple this with the outstanding animation from Quantic Dream, introducing hyper-realistic character designs, movements and facial expressions, and you have some of the best visual and auditory presentation in any game.

Now, I know that many Playstation exclusives have outstanding graphics, but, in my opinion, Beyond: Two Souls takes the cake. Some of the scenes in Beyond: Two Souls have such impressive animation that they could pass as being filmed in live-action. Beyond: Two Souls has graphics I never thought possible with the Playstation 3, and it carries from environments, to background, to characters, to objects, to animation and to everything in-between. It is, without a doubt, in my list of candidates for best-looking console game ever created (as of this generation).

As mentioned, the story is limited. While I actually found it to be quite good, I will definitely admit that it is stretched out over too long a period, and is missing some crucial components which should have been included to bring the story up to scratch. As with all of our reviews, we never wish to ruin any important story content within a game, so, due to the already limited story in Beyond: Two Souls, we won’t reveal anything further.

Overall, Beyond: Two Souls, in my opinion, is definitely a title worthwhile playing. Beyond the lack of a strong plot, everything else about the game is outstanding, and redeems the title. The graphics are unbelievable, the voice acting is superb (as are music & SFX) and the presentation of the story is fantastic. Even the gameplay is rather enjoyable, considering the game focuses more on the storytelling point-of-view.

The team has worked very hard (with their previous projects & Beyond) to bring this alternative style of game to our consoles, and it is definitely getting closer and closer to perfection. If they keep up the style and can develop a strong story, I visualise their next title getting a perfect score. They fixed all that was wrong with Heavy Rain, but unfortunately the story let the game down, and for that, I must deduct a point. Despite this, you should definitely pick up this PS3 exclusive if you like the interactive storytelling concept!