A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Beyond: Two Souls is a different kind of game -- almost more of a movie or a television show with game-like elements. It covers 15 years in the life of a girl/young woman who has paranormal powers that eventually get exploited by the government. It tackles several serious subjects including peer acceptance, homelessness, military ethics, and use of illicit substances. One chapter sees a trio of men attempt to rape the protagonist, and in another she helps a woman give birth. The heroine is a good person at heart and wants to do the right thing, but she's manipulated into doing some things she knows are wrong. Violence is infrequent but typically pretty intense when it happens (players can possess enemies and make them kill themselves). Strong profanity is scattered throughout the dialogue.
What's it about?
BEYOND: TWO SOULS puts players in the role of Jodie, a girl with paranormal powers who has difficulty fitting into the normal world. The story covers 15 years of her life, from the time she's a small girl living with a foster family who is terrified of her powers through some troubled teen years she spends in a research facility and then all the way up to her early twenties, when the CIA starts to take an interest in her abilities. Less a game than an interactive movie or TV show, this narrative-driven experience has some action in the form of quick-time events that require players to tap buttons to match icons that appear on-screen, but many of its lengthy chapters see players doing things not normally equated with games like spending time as a homeless person and working and getting to know a family living on an isolated Navajo ranch. A second player can join in by taking control of Jodie's paranormal companion, Aiden, who can do things like possess enemies and manipulate objects without being seen.
Is it any good?
The key to enjoying Beyond: Two Souls is to go in with an open mind and not expect a traditional gaming experience. Like Quantic Dream's previous game Heavy Rain, the goal here is to relate an engrossing and emotional story that makes players feel for the characters the same way they would those in a movie or TV show -- perhaps even more, since you're controlling one of them. The motion-captured performances of the 150 actors involved -- including Hollywood stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe -- result in what is probably the most photo-realistic presentation of human characters yet seen in a game.
The only potential downfall is that this twist-filled, anachronistically told tale of a young woman coming to grips with her supernatural talents is perhaps a little too predictable. Astute players likely will have some idea of the twists -- and their resolutions -- well before they happen. But that doesn't make one care any less about the game's troubled personalities. As with many stories, the bulk of the fun in Beyond: Two Souls is found in its journey rather than its conclusion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about female characters in games. Do you think Jodie is a strong female character? In what ways is she different from most other female game characters?
Families also can discuss the impact of violence in media and specifically in this game. How do you think violence was presented here? Did it fit within the context of the story, or could it have been made less intense without losing its narrative purpose?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3
- Subjects: Social Studies: geography
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, teamwork
Emotional Development: persevering
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: October 8, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
For kids who love adventures
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.