I can’t stop thinking about Beyond: Two Souls. It’s just so weird. Ever since the title was announced as part of May 2018’s free PlayStation Plus lineup, I’ve been recalling my two playthroughs of Quantic Dream’s ghost-themed sci-fi story. I was originally rather enamoured with it on the PlayStation 3; I thought the handful of high points plastered over the admittedly awkward plot developments. I was less forgiving when I played through on the PlayStation 4 a few years later, but I still remember specific scenes.
I’m trying to think of a stranger PlayStation game. I suppose titles like Vib-Ribbon and Mister Mosquito are oddities, but they don’t take themselves anywhere near as seriously Jodie Holmes’ ghostly affair. Everything about this release is unusual, from the narrative structure which is out of a sequence – there is a remixed edition that plays out in order on the PS4, but it’s not the way it’s intended to be played at all – to some of the themes that it explores. This is a release where one moment you’re cooking curry and the next you’re on a military assignment in Africa.
So for those of you who are oblivious to what this narrative-driven adventure is about, you play as the aforementioned Jodie across a good 25 years of her life. She essentially has a “gift”; a powerful spirit that can’t be seen but is attached directly to her soul. This puts her on the radar of the military, who believe that her powers can be leveraged in combat. The game, then, is about Holmes trying to understand her circumstances, while also going through the growing pains that all young women have to endure. As a premise, it’s unusual but interesting.
The game, though, goes all over the place – and I really mean that. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who haven’t played it, but David Cage crams so much into this script that it’s dizzying to look back on. There’s a homeless sequence, where Jodie is on the run; she ends up befriending some Native Americans for a bit; there’s a section where she infiltrates a submarine as part of the CIA; and, of course, there’s the part in Africa where she ends up escorting a young boy she can’t understand – similar to the Tenzin sequence in Uncharted 2: A Thief’s End.
And honestly, that’s just the half of it. The game seems to want to do everything at once, and it ends up a bit confused as a result. Pair that with the single protagonist, which leads to a lack of the consequences compared to Heavy Rain, and you have something of a messy end product. But despite all of that, I still remember specific sequences: getting locked in a cupboard, going to a pool bar, escaping a train. It’s a game of moments – beautifully presented, bizarre moments that stick with you long after you’ve finished.
So yeah, I’m not sure what to say about Beyond: Two Souls other than that I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve played through it twice, and I still can’t quite believe certain events actually transpire during the campaign – it’s so bizarre in so many ways. But I appreciate the attempt at trying something different; I even kinda like it. Hats off to Ellen Page for acting her heart out with a script this cumbersome and confused – it’s a game I’ll probably never forget, for reasons both good and bad.
Have you played Beyond: Two Souls before? What are your thoughts on the game? Are you going to give it a try when it’s available with PlayStation Plus? Summon your inner spirit in the comments section below.