Before playing the game I avoided every review, every forum topic, and basically every source of information about Beyond, as I wanted to avoid any spoilers. So basically it was all new to me, I had no bias getting into it. I'll try to be as spoiler free in my review as possible, but there might be a few minor details that are necessary to explain my feelings on the game, but the game is more focused on whys rather than whats anyway, so most facts can't even be considered spoilers about it.
The clever thing about the game is that the story doesn't play in a chronological order. You see episodes from Jodie's (the main character) life encompassing 15 years in random order. Between the age of 9 and 24. To be honest I can't decide if this twist is a curse or a blessing. Knowing facts from later events can certainly sway you in a direction when you play an earlier episode. At least It certainly made me choose differently in some cases knowing what I did from later episodes that I played earlier.
The basic premise is that Jodie is in an inseparable connection with a ghost like entity she calls Aiden. This entity gives her special abilities, that of course makes her the outcast as a child, other kids pick on her, as an adult everyone wants to use her. This pre-sets the dark mood of the story, you already feel that this story can't have a happy ending.
Before dwelling into the story I want to explain the controls of the game. Which I'd rather not even call controls, because you're not really in control ever. The interaction begins and ends with nudging the story along some predetermined paths. You don't initiate any action, you just help Jodie do what she wants to do. You can't make any life changing decisions until the very and of the game, which makes sense, since otherwise the chronology would have to be in order. This doesn't mean you can't make choices, this just means all roads lead to Rome eventually. The degree of freedom is a bit higher when you control Aiden, but it's only a pretence. You might be able to move around freely in three dimensions, but the things you can interact with and how you can interact with them is very limited. Basically limited to mission critical things only. The biggest choice you can have is when there are 5 objects to interact with and it's enough to interact with 3 of them to move the story along, so basically you choose if you want to fuck around with the toaster, or make the lights flicker, that's your freedom of choice.
Let's move on to action sequences, I think the creators really had or have the wrong idea about what players want. Action is done by moving the right stick in the correct direction when the action turns to slow motion, that's it, nothing more, that's your level of involvement. And the correct direction is not something you choose it's predetermined by Jodie. So she starts a left to right punch, then you have to push the stick to the right to finish the movement, end of story. And the worst is, that everything is relative to your view, and not to the character. So if the camera is in front of Jodie, then suddenly you have to invert your every movement, so a left to right move, becomes a left nudge on the stick. I never could wrap my head around this, I always thought relative to the character. Almost all of my mistakes were caused by this. But it doesn't really matter, since the game is still so easy that you can play it blindfolded. Compared to this Heavy Rain's easiest mildest levels made me piss blood. And I played this game on normal mode, imagine that there is a casual gamer mode in it too. How hard can that be?
Another thing about action sequences that made me loose immersion often, is that Jodie is a slim and small girl, no more than maybe 5'3" or 160 cm. But she takes down 250 pound men like it was nothing. And not with help from Aiden, this is just by herself. OK, according to the story she takes basic hand to hand combat as part of her training, but that doesn't substitute for physical strength. Suspension of disbelief on steroids is what you'd need to get over this.
And speaking of gameplay, since the game is so easy on the action side, people might think that it makes up for that with the puzzles, Heavy Rain was strong on puzzles as well right? Sadly they'd be mistaken, there aren't any puzzles in the game, apart from one level, but I wouldn't even dare call that a puzzle.
So sadly we have to conclude that Beyond draws a blank on gameplay. The player basically has the role of an observer. So it makes up for this with the story right? Heavy Rain had a great story, with multiple playable characters, many forks and decisions, but no matter how you do it, it all came together at the end one way or another. But Beyond relies solely on manipulating your emotions, with sad and moving scenes, which of course works many times, but it doesn't make up for clever writing. And it doesn't really give closure, not by a mile. You don't even get some fake science explanation. You just have to accept everything and be quiet. That might work for someone who believes in afterlife, or the spirit realm, but I can't get no satisfaction from that.
I'd like to add a few words about the bonus level coming with the collectors edition of the game. Yes I so blindly trusted Quantic Dream, that I went for the Steel Book edition. But it was only 5$ more than the basic, so not much extra hurt on my wallet. They were announcing it as 30 minutes of extra gameplay, well that's a lie by definition, there is a thirty minute time cap on the level, but it can be easily finished within 15 minutes. I took it very slow at first, I didn't even use the run button at all, and I ended up doing it in 18 minutes. For which the game reprimanded me, that I was so slow. and made me do it again, so I did it and finished it in 8 minutes. So if I add up the two it almost fulfils the promise of 30 minutes, but i didn't think it would be made up by repeating the level over and over again The level by the way is a Portal style series of tests, the only difference is that you use Aiden instead of a Portal Gun. But the difficulty of the puzzles is on the pathetic level here too. Not comparable to Portal. But I liked it anyway so I'm not mad about spending the extra money.
So let's see the pros and cons
- Graphics (For the PS3 this is amazing stuff, even for my PC adjusted eyes it's beautiful so big plus on this one)
- Basic premise
- Emotional, and strong scenes
- It's not short, I played for two days while only stopping to sleep and eat.
- Lame controls that are relative to the screen and not to your character.
- Too easy
- You have no real role in the story, you're only there to assist and nudge it left or right
- Zero freedom in gameplay
- You basically choose an ending by choosing A B or C from a list at the end of the game, it's not entirely determined by your actions during the game like in Heavy Rain. Well the options available to you are determined by your previous choices.
- Sometimes it takes a lot of moving around like a crazed rat to make some interact points show up.
- There is a lot of potential in the Aiden Jodie team, sadly the game never fully lives up to that potential.
- The usage of the name Aiden is not very wise since there was a main character in Heavy Rain called Jayden, so it always reminded me of him each time Jodie said Aiden.But that's probably just my personal beef.
All in all this is a good game, but it could have been a lot better, with some tweaks. For example if action sequences would've been real TPS levels, but it seems Quantic can only make QTEs.
graphics : 10
Overall impression: 6.5/10