Beyond: Two Souls
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bold, film-like, story-driven game with very mature themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This game tackles plenty of hard issues including social acceptance, sexual assault, homelessness, and the ethics of war. The outcomes of these scenes are generally fixed, but players often can choose how the main character reacts to what she sees. Violence plays a role in some chapters, but it's not glamorized the way it often is in M-rated games. Violence exists not to shock so much as to help the game tell its complex tale.
Positive Role Models
Jodie is a conflicted, multidimensional character who almost always tries to act morally and do the right thing. But sometimes she's tricked -- for example, she finds herself in a situation in which she's sexually assaulted -- or led into activities she later regrets. She drinks at a party as a teen, and as an adult she's involved in covert military action that results in the deaths of people who may not have deserved to die. Through it all, the player understands her motivations and reasoning, even while knowing she shouldn't make some of the decisions she does.
Ease of Play
Controls mix a standard thumbstick-driven movement and navigation scheme with an unusual quick-time event interface in which players tap buttons according to on-screen cues. It's a bit odd to start but never overwhelming, thanks largely to a generous tolerance for missed cues. In fact, it's quite possible to play through the entire game without failing a single scene, even on the more challenging of its two difficulty levels.
Violence & Scariness
Violence isn't frequent but can be intense. Players can punch and kick human enemies, choke them and break their necks, and use guns and knives to kill soldiers. Blood appears around wounds. Assuming the role of a ghost, players can possess enemies and make them kill themselves. There are also scenes of torture, and one scenario depicts a trio of men attacking a young woman in a failed attempt to rape her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The central protagonist kisses men and in one scene intends to have sex with a man, though it doesn't happen. She's sometimes seen in only her underwear. Another scene shows a character propositioning fellatio, and yet another has the player's character actively delivering a baby (only side angles with bare thighs are shown).
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Many characters speckle their dialogue with profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The player can choose to make the main character -- a teen -- drink beer and smoke marijuana at a party. The screen wavers briefly to suggest inebriation.
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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.
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Beyond: Two Souls
Based on 11 parent reviews
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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
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: 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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