Beyond: Two Souls

ccesarano wrote:

I do find David Cage's whole "EMOTION!" thing funny, though. With fewer polygons and tech, Clementine in Walking Dead broke my heart more than sections of that video managed.

Swat wrote:

Only The Last of Us has come close. Walking Dead's "actors" were an amazing testament to strong character design on almost everyone in the game. Most of the "feels" in Beyond, half way in are more "That sucks, it must have been hard for her to deal with this stuff". I do care enough to see the conflict resolved, but I just don't have the level of attachment in Walking Dead. Walking Dead was all about that attachment.

From an outside perspective (I've not played any of Cage's games), I think this is why Cage rubs a lot of the games press the wrong way. To hear him tell it, he's the only one in the industry who's trying to do emotional impact in stories and attempting to elevate the storytelling. Except.... he's not the only one. And my understanding is that he's not really as good at what he talks about as he claims. It's classic Emperor's New Clothes.

shoptroll wrote:
ccesarano wrote:

I do find David Cage's whole "EMOTION!" thing funny, though. With fewer polygons and tech, Clementine in Walking Dead broke my heart more than sections of that video managed.

Swat wrote:

Only The Last of Us has come close. Walking Dead's "actors" were an amazing testament to strong character design on almost everyone in the game. Most of the "feels" in Beyond, half way in are more "That sucks, it must have been hard for her to deal with this stuff". I do care enough to see the conflict resolved, but I just don't have the level of attachment in Walking Dead. Walking Dead was all about that attachment.

From an outside perspective (I've not played any of Cage's games), I think this is why Cage rubs a lot of the games press the wrong way. To hear him tell it, he's the only one in the industry who's trying to do emotional impact in stories and attempting to elevate the storytelling. Except.... he's not the only one. And my understanding is that he's not really as good at what he talks about as he claims. It's classic Emperor's New Clothes.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy his games, I just feel that the Walking Dead and TLOU set the bar really, really freaking high, and it just points out how average character development in other games can be. The same can be said for 90% of the movies out there as well, it's not industry specific.

David Cage's criticisms are more aimed towards big name publishers, but that's part of the problem. As I mentioned to Clocky in the PSN thread, after playing through Virtue's Last Reward right before Beyond, I feel like David Cage needs to find a bunch of excellent visual novels and games like The Walking Dead, play through them, and learn from them a bit. Half the time I finish a chapter in Beyond, I feel like there's no other way it really could have gone. I don't mean that in the same sense as people saying The Walking Dead is ultimately linear, either.

Actually, that's not immediately fair. I have a feeling the chapter "Just Another Girl" helps determine the outcome to the chapter "The Dinner", which helps change how the ending to "The Mission" plays out. So it takes over half the game until you really feel as if your actions matter, whereas The Walking Dead had small moments that would resonate throughout, just as much as large ones.

I think I'm nearing completion. On the whole, I like the game, and I do think David Cage wants to take his middle finger and shove it to the publishers who said stuff like "You can't have a dude like the player kissing another dude". I never imagined feeling so engaged playing a game as a woman preparing for a date (yes, I went through all different clothing options before making a choice, so sue me).

It's an interesting premise for a game, though. At first I felt as if I never get a chance to understand just what sort of person Jodie is as your only getting glimpses of your life, but I think that's part of the point. You wouldn't get a consistent picture of someone if you only had portions of their life. However, it paints a picture, and on the whole it becomes fascinating to see someone's life change and how it changes them.

I watched Jodie play the guitar and sing last night. It was amazing. It's the little things like this (as well as the guitar playing in Stalker, Metro Last Light, etc.) that really add a layer of awesomeness.

Also, keeping this spoiler free, but some of the mid-game action sequences and.. events that transpire were truly breathtaking to play through.

I'm trying to save my last "session" for tonight as I know I have about 2 hours left. So far my thoughts are way more positive than not about this game.

Edit: I also realized you can miss entire sequences if you mess up certain QTEs. Now I'm wondering if my choices or failures left me out of other parts of the game.

I'm a little surprised to see that this thread is dead so quickly after the release of the game? What was the GWJer consensus on Beyond Two Souls?

I'm probably going to rescind my one-man-boycott and pick this up, together with The Last of Us, for the holiday season (I'll be all GTA-ed out by then, with nothing else to play).

I actually pre-ordered the game and have it sitting on my desk at home. This weekend was just kind of a mess and I never got a chance to start it. Looking forward to it though as I'm a fan of Quantic Dream's stuff, warts and all.

Yeah, I finished it right before the new Pokemon came out, so I completely forgot about posting my thoughts on it in here.

On the whole I liked it, and it had some excellent moments, but after playing games like Telltale's The Walking Dead and the Zero Escape games on the 3DS, I feel like there are other people out there doing what David Cage is trying to do better re: story heavy games. What I'll give David Cage credit for is putting you in the role of a female protagonist and having moments that are very not-dudebro, so to speak.

For example, playing as a girl preparing for a date was a surprisingly involved moment of the game for me and very unlike how I'd even think through the process myself if I, in real life, had to go on a date.

Just finished it. I really loved Heavy Rain, what it brought to the table, and whether it hit or missed, I appreciated what it attempted.

Having said that, Beyond is not a good game. In any capacity. Just...everything's wrong. I was seriously let down, considering the end of a console era tends to offer some of the best companies can release.

It was so disjointed, it made LOST's season 5 seem tame in comparison. All the attempts at empathy fall flat on the floor, with everyone, (maybe Stan, but not nearly enough). Jumping in time to tell the grand story takes away rather than add to the depth of the story or the character development. Controls? I admit I'm not as well versed in the variety of games out there as many of you, and generally I rank gameplay 2nd in my list of priorities, but man, never have I experienced such terrible controls. Not for Jodie, not for Aiden. Completely unresponsive. The camera? Sweet Jesus...and people have the audacity to complain about SOTC. Rapidly mashing buttons is not really, you know, fun. Ever.

The gameplay is simply awful, the action scenes are forced, unintuitive, boring, unnecessary to the plot, and they play horribly. Aiden's scarce array of powers is arbitrarily limited, just as his reach, in "service" to the story. Why can I control this dude, but not that dude? Why can I move this object, but not that one? Choking enemies? Great! Could use that in the middle of war. No? Just the one dude? Uhm, OK.

Whoever thought a tiny, barely noticeable white dot was sufficient to bring the player's attention to the points of interest, needs a new job. Graphics. I don't care about graphics. They're probably at the bottom of list of priorities in games, but, as long as we're at it: Yes, Jodie looks like Ellen Page, and Nathan looks like Willem Defoe. That's it. At times, (look at the dog hiding under the table in the Navajo chapter) the textures look made in MS Paint.

Then, simple game decisions that feel like a power-drill to the temple to encounter them in 2013. No save function? New game will overwrite my previous save? I can't f*cking skip scenes?!?!! Game uses what, 4 buttons total? 5? I mean, no need to map the entire controller, but why on earth make camera and action the SAME f*cking button?!

And then, finally, comes the story, the thing I care about most in games, and the thing this game puts forth. Jesus...just...ok, the overall story is not bad persé, but, jumping around the timeline, the pacing, the rhythm, none of it works. Character motivations? bare minimum if any at all. Wanna talk about tired tropes and clichés? Just take a look at Philip the father, or any of the teenagers at the party, or McGrath the general, or the enemies of Jodie's final mission, or:

Spoiler:

the turn Nathan's character takes. Man, ok, sure, the motivation behind it wasn't spelled out, good, but really? No one saw that coming?

I found the Navajo chapter to be, in and of itself, interesting. But what does it do in terms of the story? Or characters? Actually, something like this would've worked better near the beginning of the game, to help establish tone and genre. Having it happen at the point in the game's length that it happens, presents new rules, or portrays themes in a new way inconsistent with the rest of the game. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't match the rest of the game. It was interesting, yes, and it was first time in the game I felt intrigued, but it does not go in this game.

This is not the worst game ever made, not even close. BUT, in terms of expectation, or better, in terms of what it attempted to deliver and what it actually delivers in the end, then yes, I'm afraid I'd consider this as one of the biggest let downs I've encountered. Seriously disappointed with it.

While I was nearing completion, I was curious as to what the different endings might look like, but after finishing it once, I can't bring myself to fire it up again. I'm sorry if it comes across as harsh, but it really let me down. It's shocking how in a couple of minutes of KARA they managed to really engage me, to find myself completely invested in that story, and then they drop the ball with Beyond this way.

kexx wrote:

The gameplay is simply awful, the action scenes are forced, unintuitive, boring, unnecessary to the plot, and they play horribly. Aiden's scarce array of powers is arbitrarily limited, just as his reach, in "service" to the story. Why can I control this dude, but not that dude? Why can I move this object, but not that one? Choking enemies? Great! Could use that in the middle of war. No? Just the one dude? Uhm, OK.

This is part of the downside to David Cage's style of game design, which is hardly real design at all. He creates a scene, and while you don't have to interact with all the objects, he certainly has an outcome in mind. Because there are no controls for actual shooting, you can't just possess any cop or SWAT force guy or what have you. As a result, in order to limit the amount of programming, only certain people can be possessed and you can only perform certain outcomes.

This is my problem with most of the "non-linear" parts of the game. While there are some moments in the game where characters will respond to you differently, most of the time it's a matter of "how much will you do in the amount of time offered?" This was my big issue with the chapter "The Experiment", acting as the tutorial for Aiden's controls. I had Aiden knock over a couple of things, and even got the "Obedience" trophy, but Jodie was still crying and the woman was flipping out. It didn't make any sense given the context of what Aiden was doing. I didn't bust any equipment up, just blocks, water bottle and cards. Yet everyone's freaking out like I started to break the glass.

Now let's think about that sequence for a moment. After you knock down the blocks, they ask if there's anything else you can move. Hence I hit the bottle. Then the game does nothing. No one asks you to do anything else, but you can't stop, either. So you have to knock something else over or aside, at which point the game automatically goes into "Aiden on a rampage" mode. It pissed me off quite a bit, as David Cage clearly wanted that scene to play out just one way. That pisses me off.

Whoever thought a tiny, barely noticeable white dot was sufficient to bring the player's attention to the points of interest, needs a new job.

David Cage is also clearly not a good UI designer. You're right on that a white dot is not sufficient, and honestly, none of the interaction icons truly stood out against the background well unless it naturally contrasted. However, it really struck me how bad David Cage is at actual usability and design near the end:

Spoiler:

When you're in the Asian underwater facility, and you have to go underwater, I assumed I needed to go underwater. However, I wasn't sure what I needed to do BEFORE that, so I wandered the room for a while until I was finally close enough to the diving suits for that white dot to appear. I realized at that moment that the only time the game communicated anything to me was when Jodie or some other character told you specifically what to do or where to go ("The laundry basket is in the bathroom..." for example). There was nothing that called my attention to the diving suits. They were dark and blended in quite well as background objects. So instead of taking five seconds to look around and have some bright colors or displays that basically said "LOOKIT ME!", I had to wander around until I saw a white dot.

This solidified in my mind that David Cage may like video games, but he loves film more, because he doesn't even have the basic fundamentals of software design down. I'd hate to see him build a webpage.

I found the Navajo chapter to be, in and of itself, interesting. But what does it do in terms of the story? Or characters? Actually, something like this would've worked better near the beginning of the game, to help establish tone and genre. Having it happen at the point in the game's length that it happens, presents new rules, or portrays themes in a new way inconsistent with the rest of the game. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't match the rest of the game. It was interesting, yes, and it was first time in the game I felt intrigued, but it does not go in this game.

It felt out of place to me as well, though partially because I'd like to see Native Americans play a prominent role in something without also bringing in a bunch of mysticism. To me that's as bad as every black or hispanic being all thug gangsta.

On the whole, though, it doesn't feel like it serves a purpose to the story or even Jodie herself, even though they want to give you that impression. That somehow that whole ordeal makes her decide she knows what she has to do.

I was expecting far more personal, though, and not nearly as epic as it ended up being. I think one of the reasons Heavy Rain worked as well as it did was because it was about a core group of people going through something "small scale". Granted it was still some serious stuff, but it was about people more than anything else. By being a game about various points in Jodie's life, I expected something similar. What I got felt...well, it felt really typical.

Spoiler:

Once you found that the government was trying to open portals to another realm, which honestly felt like it was kind of out of nowhere, you knew the general direction of the game. The government was going to be all big and bad about harnessing this and that. Now they tease a sequel game in a more post-apocalyptic scenario, and all I can think is "Man, looks awesome, I hope Sony gets Naughty Dog or Insomniac to make it so it can actually play well".

I enjoyed it, but I'd be surprised if, at the end of the year, it even gets close to being on my top 10 list.

Well said. I agree with your points. I too had that reaction at the end! I was like, for the love of God, let someone else do that sequel and it could work!

I just finished it and I really enjoyed the game. Some people may have a hard time calling it a game but developers who try to do something different should be applauded.

Ellen Paige was really good.

It isn't for everyone but it was worth my money. I'm looking forward to the next game from them.

Finished it last night. First point to state right up front is that if you aren't a fan of Quantic Dream's prior work, this definitely won't convert you. That said, as someone who did like Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, I think this was a major step up in almost all respects. The tech was better (I can't believe the PS3 can have games that look like that), the acting was far better (no more French people trying to play North American roles), the writing was better if still imperfect and I like that the game actually mixed up different control styles. I also think the story was the best David Cage ever did, though it definitely had a few holes.

I can certainly understand why this would be divisive in that it's a weird mix of emotional drama and sci-fi that's not as straightforward or immediately believable as some other things might be. But I really don't understand the complaints I'm seeing in many places about how this game just leads you by the nose and ends up at the same conclusion regardless because that's exactly what The Walking Dead does. Like that game, your choices impact how the story plays out and is delivered but ultimately, it has a beginning, middle and end and you can adjust the ending depending on some choices. I loved The Walking Dead and its ending but you definitely couldn't affect it to the degree you can here.

What I will say is that there are definitely holes in the interactivity. What kexx said about how it often feels arbitrary what Aiden can interact with is definitely true. A little more trial and error I think would have been cool, especially in the stealth sequences. I had no problems with the "white dot" UI. I never had to look around particularly long to find anything and I think that made it unobtrusive.

There's no doubt David Cage is trying to create some weird marriage of games and film here and I can certainly understand anyone who doesn't care for his approach. The divisive review scores and conversation on this game don't surprise me at all. But compared to some other highly-praised barely interactive art pieces like Dear Esther and Gone Home (take a drink, I'm once again stating I think Gone Home is incredibly overrated), there's a lot more actual game here and the way your interactions make you feel like you're driving the story forward rather than just observing it are why I enjoy it.

I pitched the idea of doing a RambleCast spoiler discussion to ccesarano so maybe we can rip it apart there.

I have always been a big fan of this studios games. Starting with Indigo. This one felt the weakest of the three but still was a lot of fun. I controls and overall amount of gameplay felt the weakest compared to their last games. Still it was a hell of a ride overall. Oh the acting was best it's been, but it was done by pros. Oh and I played it coop with a friend which was pretty damn neat.

Definitely rent and beat it if you're remotely interested.

Wait, I've been on blackout on this. Is there a local co-op mode? That could be a seller for the wife.

Chaz wrote:

Wait, I've been on blackout on this. Is there a local co-op mode? That could be a seller for the wife.

There kind of is. Basically, one of the core elements of this game is that you often switch between Jodie and Aiden (her spirit partner that can manipulate the environment.) If you play the local co-op mode, one person gets exclusive control of Jodie and the other gets Aiden. So you only get to play when your particular character is the active one.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
Chaz wrote:

Wait, I've been on blackout on this. Is there a local co-op mode? That could be a seller for the wife.

There kind of is. Basically, one of the core elements of this game is that you often switch between Jodie and Aiden (her spirit partner that can manipulate the environment.) If you play the local co-op mode, one person gets exclusive control of Jodie and the other gets Aiden. So you only get to play when your particular character is the active one.

Playing as Aiden (or Jodi, really) isn't particularly exciting. If I had a choice between watching and playing as ghost boy I'd probably just watch.

She might not mind that part. I had her playing Heavy Rain while I watched, and when she got to the first fist fight, the realized what was going on and threw the controller at me so I could do that section.

I just played the demo and it was absolutely captivating.