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Finished "Beyond Two Souls" by QUANTIC DREAM yesterday. TLTR: it's worse than "Heavy Rain", but can still be enjoyable with "Remixed" mode. Below is some ranting. I will try my best to not spoil anything major, but some minor hints are possible.

I've been thinking for sometime how to describe my experience and I think the best word would be "inconsistent". Firstly it's inconsistent in how the story is presented: they even acknowledged it by providing a "Remixed" mode, where chapters are shown in chronological order.

The problem with this approach is not in the approach itself. There are a lot of stories, that use flashbacks or even flashforwards or both (like "Lost" did). The problem is how badly it's done. It's not that you can't follow the story, but it feels disjointed, there is hardly any connection between the chapters and the way they are mixed seems mostly random. They could have started from "Welcome to CIA" chapter, go from it chronologically and use flashbacks of all chapters, that were before CIA. Or they could start with "Homeless" and let Jodie stay there for longer while flashing back to how she became homeless. Besides, this mixed up order does not make sense considering the epilogue, or rather my version of it, where Jodie says she is trying to write those memories down. She would not be writing them down randomly, because she wants to structure them, so the order does not work as "memories" as well.

But that can be forgiven to an extent: as I said, it's not like you can't follow the story. What is harder for me to swallow are lots and lots of "inconsistences" in details. And I think they stem from desire of the writers to make a more "personal" story. "Heavy Rain" had us play several characters, but they were focused on one goal and the "facts" surrounding it. Not saying, that characters and their actions were always believable and relatable, but the story itself was not about the characters themselves, rather about the circumstances, that put them together, the "events", so it was more about "reacting" to them, rather than just "acting" or going on with their lives.

Beyond changes the approach and focuses on Jodie trying to show her "hard life" of a "special" kid. But it's done mostly through cliches and stereotypes. The original chapters' order only actuates them and as result I cringed quite often. I simply could not relate to her (or any of the characters, to be honest). And not because of different gender (I enjoyed Life is Strange and Dreamfall Chapters, among some other games with female protagonists). Speaking of LiS: I think the best way they could do is take an "episodic" approach.

Let me explain: the story can be roughly split into 4 parts, that is childhood, adolescence, CIA and everything after. If you look at them from afar, they do make sense and they do connect, but all of them lack details (more on that in a bit). How could you add details? Let player explore more. Like what LiS did. Each episode consisted of chapters, and, at least, 1 one of them always allowed you to explore the environment, read journal(s), interact with characters. Lots of those interactions were meaningless for the story as a whole, but they helped establish the setting and inter-characters relationships. And their feelings. They were simple at times, but they fit. At least I do not remember cases, when they felt out of place, ungrounded. In Beyond - quite often.

In "Childhood" they could have explored more on how Aiden and Jodie grew up, what was the purpose of experiments, they could work with that "fear" of those "entities", that are yet unexplained. They could have explored the relationship with her parents and then show how she grew closer with Nathan and Cole through them "protecting her" from those entities. Instead, we are presented with facts. Here you have an accident, here you start experiments, here is Nathan, here is Cole and they are your best friends and father figures. Just facts, with little to no story.

Same goes with other parts. In "Adolescence" they could have shown how Jodie is growing trying to both be a normal girl and deal with not being normal, trying to get control over her life, instead of not being controlled. Instead we are presented with stereotypical bullying, slut-shaming (ungrounded and unfitting) and even rape with murder. And when Jodie is forced to CIA and is crying, that she has to leave the lab, I could not believe those tears, because before that Nathan and Cole were not shown as her friends, but rather just "good guys". They treat you nice, because they have to or something like that. And then... Even more and more inconsistences start to come up.

As I said there were a lot of inconsistences, but most noteworthy for me were in the events, that took Jodie outside of US. Firstly, there was "Navajo". Well, it's actually somewhere in US, but feels different, a desert with some native Americans there. It's the best point in the story, to show her, that she is not the first "special one", and the best point to start her "healing", considering it was cut short in "Homeless". I mean, the chapter is about spirits, let her explore spirituality here to some extent. Why limit her to hay throwing? And the way characters interaction play-out here are so... "Convenient"? It would be consistent, if Paul talked to her more before suggesting her to stay. As if he saw something in her, that maybe reminded him of someone, or he just wanted to help her heal, because he is "spiritual" and all that. I know this may be a bit stereotypical, but at least in this case it fits and makes sense.

Worse was her last mission with CIA. It did not make sense to CIA to send someone like her on a military operation. Do they even have military operations in the first place? I mean, they have SAC, but this did not seem to be SAC. And all this stealth episode, while it had some nice dynamics was a bit convoluted and turn to worse when she made a connection with a child, who did not understand her, and whom she did not understand either. Yet they exchanged lengthy dialogue lines, as if they did. And the plot twist in the end of that chapter simply implied, that she was completely out of the loop with what's going in the world, even though it did not look like she was cut off from any information.

And then there was that China and Kazakhstan hybrid. A fishing village in the snowy mountains. I had my doubts about this being a mountain region, but the escape sequence actually did show some mountains. The whole operation was an amateur hour. No professional teams would work like that. Go pee in the cold, when established a base? Why not have a bottle with a filter, if you are already trying to survive in this cold for 3 days? Why do you not have wood or anything else to start a fire with, if you are here for 3 days? Why do you need to contact base in the storm (it will take some time to connect? who's the tech guy who allowed that line?)/ Did you not get proper directions on how to behave in this case? Why would you forget your backpack? How could a guy swim through the cold water and into -40 cold in just his short even survive without frostbite?

But enough about my ranting. If you play the game in "remixed" mode, I believe that you will be able to enjoy it as a good B-Movie. I doubt it will stay with you forever, but you will find some decent moment with it nonetheless. Unless you will hate its QTEs.

Or controls in general. I was playing with gamepad and honestly I find "Heavy Rain" controls better. Interaction prompts (for items) were more obvious than just a dot with no clear indication where to move my stick. I do not find myself stupid, but that's not what I want to waste my brainpower. Directional QTEs were a bit more visible, but still quite easily missable. At least, there was slow-down effect, that did help with finding them and also also looked quite cool. And they did make more sense, since you were "following" Jodie's actions though.