Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls is a cinematic action-adventure game starring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.
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Story & Themes
In the earliest scenes (chronologically), you learn that Jodie is a foster child with strange powers her foster parents don’t understand. She can “control” a spirit named Aiden, who has been attached to her since birth. I say “control” because she can tell him to do things, but Aiden doesn’t necessarily always obey. The player usually controls Jodie, but can also switch over to control Aiden to accomplish things that Jodie couldn’t do alone, such as disabling alarms. In some cases, Aiden can possess people and control them.
Jodie’s foster parents give her over to the care of the Department of Paranormal Activity. She is kept under their care as they study the spirits that are attracted to her, until she helps them shut down a portal to the “Infraworld,” where the spirits come from, and is recruited by the CIA.
In the CIA she bonds with a man named Ryan, whom she tries to date. Depending on previous situations the player has experienced, their date may go well or badly. Jodie is later sent to Somalia to assassinate a warlord; upon completing the job she finds out that he was actually a democratically elected leader who wanted to bring peace to the country. Jodie is upset that the CIA, and Ryan, lied to her and used her for her gifts.
Jodie runs away from the CIA and goes on a cross-country journey, learning more about her spirit-channeling abilities every step of the way—as well as who her real mother is. Back in the hands of the DPA, Jodie gets sent to shut down another condenser that opens a door to the Infraworld. After this final mission she is allowed to leave the CIA and resume her own life—or so she thinks. Instead the CIA attempts to recapture her, and her former mentor threatens to merge the human world and the Infraworld in an effort to stop death.
Jodie fights her way to the condenser and shuts it off. The player has the option to choose between letting Jodie stay Beyond, or bringing her back to life. If the player chooses life, Jodie will be separated from Aiden and become depressed for a long time, before finally choosing who she wants to spend the rest of her life with. This will change depending on who survives till the end of the game.
Beyond: Two Souls deals with themes of loss and grief. Both Jodie and other characters experience the death of loved ones; how each of them deals with that has consequences for the story.
Coming of age is another theme in this game. Jodie must come to terms with the fact that she is different from other people her age, and she is often bullied and feels isolated. She goes through all the emotional ups and downs that other teens go through, but in the end she must grow up much faster than her peers and take responsibility for her future.
A teenager receives a thong for her birthday and talks about how much her future boyfriend will like it. There is a shower scene in which steam obscures the character’s body, and another where you can see the side of Jodie’s breast. In a scene where a woman gives birth, she is not wearing pants but nothing is visible. In a couple of sequences, Jodie is lounging or sleeping in her underwear. Men are also shirtless in scenes of sleeping or swimming.
- The game puts the player in situations where sexual violence is a threat. How do you feel being put in situations like that? How do you feel about the way the game allows you to fight back?
- Is the story more powerful because it isn’t told in chronological order, or would you have preferred it to be told chronologically?
- How do you feel about the use of film actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in game roles?
- Jodie is put through a lot of horrid situations. Do you identify with her, or do you want to protect her?
- When you play as Aiden, is it fun to cause mischief? Does the game encourage you?
- How do you know when you’ve made the right choice in this game? Is there a right choice?
Action/Adventure, Mystery, Role-Playing (RPG), Visual/Audio/Interactive Novel
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Cannot be played online