Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.

Beyond: Two Souls – Analysis

Leave a comment

Cover Art

Cover Art

Design Analysis

I present to my readers a brief analysis of game design in Beyond: Two Souls. This is going to be pretty much a high-level view of the game. In near future, I might dig deeper and provide underlying low details.

Skills

To understand how a game plays out and the challenge provided, it is important to know what player skills are being challenged by a particular game. Beyond: Two Souls demands the following skills from its audience:

  • Observation: Testing player’s ability to read signs and other cues, be it visual or aural.
    • This is one of the main skills challenged as the player is asked to respond by providing inputs based on the cues the game presents.
    • Mainly challenged during:
      • Fight – Observe the sign of the attack, its direction and appropriately provide the input
      • Exploration – Looking out for clues (usually game provides a very strong hint about the situation), secrets and hidden rewards. Challenged heavily when playing as Aiden (the Entity). Playing as Ellen, this is also challenged when looking for cover positions and scouting enemies.
      • Dialogue – Observing the situation and choosing the right/ desired dialog option to converse with non-playing characters
  • Precision: Testing player’s ability to provide inputs to lead where she wants to go
    • This skill is largely challenged while playing as Aiden as it gives a full 360 degrees freedom to explore and roam about.
      • Fight – there is always just one precise input challenged
  • Measurement: Testing player’s ability to provide measured input on controls to a degree of tension
    • Challenged mainly while playing as Aiden.
      • Powers – Interacting with objects in the world – to throw/ use them with a measured degree of power (playing as Aiden)
      • Simple interactions – Playing as Ellen there is some slight challenge is providing simple measured inputs to open door/ closing letter etc.
  • Timing: Testing player’s ability to provide input at the right time
    • Finally, one of the most important skill challenged by this game is Timing. Beyond: Two Souls (much like its predecessor) is heavily based on Quick-Time Events.
      • Fight – The game introduces an upgraded fighting system (appended to its usual QTEs) – wherein player must anticipate and act by providing inputs at the right time. Usually, the window of opportunity given to the player in most of the situations is high. This allows even the slow (low physical-skill) players to act by first carefully observing the sign and then giving the right attack based on timing.
      • Stealth – Playing as Ellen, player can sometimes use stealth and knock-down/ kill enemies from behind/ aerial move by giving input at the appropriate time. Not very highly challenged.
      • Dialogue – Throughout the game, player (playing as Ellen) must converse with other non-playing characters by choosing a dialogue option and providing the input in time. The window to respond to a dialog or to converse is usually very high.

[REMARK – Even though the game challenges player on the mentioned physical and mental skills, the game is no-where close to being hard. The timing never feels stressed, and so on. Compared to Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy, this game is very light in terms of challenging the player. Extreme linearity doesn’t help the game either.]

Narrative

The narrative in Beyond: Two Souls is not presented in a regular fashion. The game shifts and jumps the player to different time in Ellen’s life. Player gets a chance to play Ellen as a:

  • Kid
  • Teenager
  • Adult

Throughout the narrative player is challenged on all of the aforementi0ned skills. The narrative does a good job of putting together various clues, revealing information and paces the game accordingly. Game presents gradual character growth, coupled with bonding between Ellen and Aiden (how it grows stronger throughout her life) and usual relationship problems as part of a real world scenario.

[REMARK – As much as I appreciate the narrative direction and slight feeling of character growth, it is again no where close to Heavy Rain. There are hardly any huge plot twists or hard-to-solve mysteries. Narrative is however very close to a Hollywood-cinematic movie experience (apart from the jumps in time-line).]

Visual & Audio

Visually the game has lots of motion-captured sequences, varied settings, themes and highly realized character models. Player is taken form tiny confines of office/ room to the expanse of Mexico.

Aurally, the voice over are present for every characters with high-performance sound-fx and appropriate music. Visually and aurally, the game provides right signs and feedback to the player.

[REMARK – When it comes to direction in this game, there are many scenes that come extremely close to a movie! The train chase and fight, bike riding and forest are memorable and visually breathtaking. Ellen Page gives a great performance and the other characters do a fine job too. As fine as the visuals and audio are, the fact to keep in mind is that the game is more a movie and less of a game. That is not a confusing statement.]

Gameplay Duration

It took me around 15 hours to finish the game in “Easy” setting. I believe the only other option is “Very Easy”. Of course, they are framed differently.

Overall, this game is more of a movie and less of a game (I must mention this again). Given the fact that Quantic Dream was supposed to evolve its gameplay + narration with Beyond: Two Souls compared to its previous offerings, I fully agree that it has not evolved in any way. The only evolution I observed was in the fighting system, where player is now required to sense the direction of attack and act-appropriately. However, as great as it sounds, it doesn’t really fare very well. It makes more sense to go back to defined and strict timing-QTE events.

Would I recommend this game? Well, if you like Ellen Page, movies, drama, story and you are a-okay with minimal gamplay from time to time… then YES! Good enough for a single play-through. Not a challenging game in any way, play it more for its story and direction.

That does it for the high-level and I must soon try and see all the endings …erm… the movie has to offer ;]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s