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 an action adventure game for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs through the Epic Store. This title 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's 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.
- Parents say
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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's terrified of her powers through some troubled teen years she spends in a research facility 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 this complex, genre-bending adventure 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 in Beyond: Two Souls 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 performances are incredibly well-done, handled by actors that are clearly bringing their talent to a complicated script. Knowing that there are multiple outcomes in the plot, as well as the ability to explore new sections of this story by making a separate choice, lets the tale develop in very interesting ways.
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 violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Beyond: Two Souls affected by the context of the gameplay? Could it have been made less intense without losing its narrative purpose? Did the violence feel gratuitous or appropriate for the story?
Do you think Jodie is a strong female character? In what ways is she different from most other female game characters?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: July 22, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
- Last updated: August 12, 2019
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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.