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…Still Here…

What can a life truly defined as? Is it our actions; our words; or simply how we intertwine our own lives with that of others? There is not an action or reaction done that does not impact who we all become as a person; and it is those very dealings that shape us down to our core.

Quantic Dream, the developers who brought Heavy Rain into existence, have delved into a realm that not only encompasses human emotion and action, but also intertwines that which many do not comprehend or see: the paranormal. In PS3 exclusive Beyond Two Souls, players take on the part of two beings: Jodie and the entity that has been connected to her since birth, Aiden.

beyond two souls 2All she ever wanted was to be like other girls, but Jodie has known nothing of normal her entire life. Her connection to Aiden and the infoworld granted her living nightmares both while sleeping and awake. Although connected to Aiden directly, Jodie has no actual control over his actions, and he tends to do as he pleases be it causing trouble or lending aid; though he always employs the role of guardian and protector for Jodie.

While players may be confused at the start as to what is going on, the non-linear storytelling gives all the necessary information as needed and slowly pieces together Jodie and Aiden’s life, triumphs and failings to create a full, dramatic picture. From a tormented childhood to covert operations within the CIA to wanted fugitive, Jodie is an incredible young woman trying to figure out who she is and learn how to actually live the life she has been given.

The game play of Beyond Two Souls certainly has its good and bad aspects. To many, it is considered more an interactive drama than an actual game; and there is really no denying that. Unlike Heavy Rain, there are far less quick action sequences and they no longer rely on awkward button presses and combinations; instead, when actions are needed during fights or intense situations, the movement ceases briefly to slow motion and allows players to dodge, counter, jump and attack by moving the joystick in the appropriate direction in time. This is not to say that these actions should simply be ignored, but it does eliminate a hard failing or repeat if a move is missed. Jodie may not come out of a fight flawlessly, and the players reaction time to events may alter the outcomes to follow. All in all, while this may not drastically affect the story as a whole, what it does do is enhance the characters development – which is what truly connects the player to the story and makes it their own.beyond two souls aiden view

When in control of Jodie’s entity, Aiden, players have a slight different control scheme to accustom themselves with. No longer bound by gravity or walls, Aiden can go and view places that Jodie currently cannot; however, he can only move so far away from Jodie before his ethereal leash reaches its limits. As Aiden, the player becomes more than simply a lookout as to what dangers and obstacles surround and can even perform certain abilities to aid Jodie by moving or causing noise for distraction, repelling infoworld creatures, healing wounds, strangling enemies unconscious or even possession. Although Aiden may be a difficult soul to deal with at times, his presence is imperative to everything Jodie is and will become.

Beyond Two Souls delivers a story rich in character development that examines human failings in various manors. Jodie, Aiden and the people she closely connects to make the story come to life and make the player truly care about what is happening. Excellent voice acting by Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe certainly are some of the best assets that could have been employed for this project.

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If the worst things to say about this game are the amount of cinematic sequences and some melodramatics at times, then there is hope. The game isn’t about stylish combos or building battle strategies; it is telling a story, and an amazing one at that. Quantic Dream present something that not every game can accomplish: a deep emotional connection. The truly heart wrenching moments, bursts of jubilation and revenge are as real as if you are doing them yourself at times. It is really something special to experience.

…An experience walking the footsteps of an amazing young woman and her extraordinary life.

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