The first review to be posted straight to blog is also, probably, the biggest game we'll look at for a while. While your no doubt wondering why Ive done a review for this, its simple. While Beyond may sell a million copies (or not) only a niche part of its audience will truly understand what's trying to be accomplished. Its fairly unique in an industry of tried & true mechanics. So how does it fare?
When it comes to Quantic Dreams games, you cant start with anything other than its narrative. Beyond plays out like an interactive movie so it lives or dies by how compelling its storyline can be & how well its portrayed. Ill try to discuss this aspect of the game without spoilers! So lets get the obvious stuff out of the way. Yes, Ellen Page & Willem Dafoe do actually act out their parts using state-of-the-art motion capture techniques. In truth, Ellen Page's performance as Jodie is possible the greatest aspect of the game. Its a breath of fresh air to have a lead protagonist in a game being as believable as this. Kudos to Ellen page for her stirring performance (Willem Dafoe does a great job too and Kadeem Hardison as Cole Freeman is worthy of a mention) When it comes to the story, game is told in a nonlinear narrative, skipping back and forth between three points in Jodie's life (Child/Teen/Adult) The narrative structure has been a contentious issue in other reviews, but not here. Upon starting the game Jodie talks of her fragmented memory and this is further reinforced at the end. A non-linear narrative fits the premise perfectly as you are playing through Jodie's memories to piece together her life. I guess I should call out some of the other reviewers on this as they'd understand all this if they'd played the game in its entirety. So how is the narrative? Engrossing. There is the odd occasion when it seems a little clunky, but for the most part you'll be completely immersed. There'll be moments of tears, smiles, frustration & chuckles as you go through the emotional rollercoaster of Jodie's life. While David Cage's writing & directing isn't the best here, I'm not calling for his head like other reviewers though as I enjoyed the story that was provided. The game will set you back between 10-15 hours of your time, which is better than I thought when I played through it (I expected to be done at about 8 hours) The game is also reputed to contain at least 20 endings, so depending on your choices you may end up with a different journey to you friends. With so many endings, Beyond's freedom comes from the choices you make rather than how you play the game. A 2 player co-op mode is thrown into the mix too. One will play as Jodie, while the other plays as Aiden. With the touch app, co-op can be done with a single Ds3 or you can forgo the touch app and use 2 Ds3. Move support has been omitted this time though (more on that later) Whether you like the narrative will be purely subjective. I personally loved it, but to remain objective - its not without its flaws, so be mindful!
As a swansong for the Ps3 before the next generation starts, Its a superb technical showpiece for the Ps3 while also giving us a glimpse at what to expect from the next generation with regards to fidelity & cinematic aspects. The odd moment of clunky writing and direction slightly mar an otherwise superbly compelling narrative though, but even then it never falters. The streamlining of gameplay also comes across as a little too simplified at times, but in an industry of complexity - Beyond's simplicity could be regarded as a breath of fresh air by some. If you can live with these minor issues though, you'll find yourself immersed within an emotional rollercoaster of a journey that is one of the best, if not the best, cinematic & unique experiences you'll find in gaming.