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Beyond: Two Souls (2013)
A beautiful & incredible journey.
From video game developer David Cage, maker of Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy, comes one of the most amazing and most entrancing video game experiences I have ever had in my entire life. Without mentioning any spoilers, I'll just say that this game carried me emotionally the whole way through, and gripped me the whole time.
Unlike most video games, this game stars actual actors, Ellen Page & Willem Dafoe. Page plays a girl names Jodie Holmes, a girl linked to a supernatural entity. Dafoe plays a man named Nathan Hawkins, a scientist assigned to study her case. There's not much else I can say without giving away major plot details.
Since the game plays out on a very large scale, it makes sure the player is invested by jumping around to different points of time. If the game followed a linear storytelling method, the segments would drag on. But this system gives the player a lot of flexibility, since no level is similar to the previous one.
I don't usually look at performance by a mo-cap actor or voice overs, but this is a rare exception. Both Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe deliver exceptional performances, both should win some award at the GOTY shows this year. This is also on a large part due to the phenomenal tech team Quantic Dream was working with that allowed the actors to show every facial expression, and every detail of the world around them to further captivate the player.
The gameplay is fluid and rather exciting. Quantic has really stepped it up a notch with the gameplay, allowing for a control scheme that is easy to adapt to, and subtle. In the game, there are segments where you get to play as the entity Jodie is linked to, and these are very fun to play. The entity (which Jodie calls Aiden) can control various things in the world. In some levels, it adds a puzzle game feel to it, giving Jodie a situation where Aidens abilities are used in creative ways.
The soundtrack is beautifully composed, as with Quantics latest venture (Heavy Rain). It's also very emotional, bringing a very powerful reaction out of me.
As to be expected from a Quantic Dream game, the shining quality is the story. This is by far, the best storyline I have ever followed in a video game. You're captivated and involved in the story, and there are no levels I would classify as "filler". Every section serves the story, and the story takes twists in ways I couldn't expect.
Overall, Beyond: Two Souls is a rare game. One that came to me as a large surprise. And while the action oriented fans of the shooter genre will not be impressed by the strange thing called "plot", It's an amazing narrative, one I will easily play again & again.