With Beyond: Two Souls, video game master David Cage, who also created Heavy Rain, pushes his vision forward on cinematic gaming. His latest game tells the tale of Jodie, a girl with a spirit companion named Aiden. Button prompts and joystick commands guide both Jodie and Aiden. When the two aren't controlled directly, the on-screen action plays out like a movie thriller.
Actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe lend not just their voices but their likenesses, cementing the game's cinematic quality. The
characters' conversations chart their progress from mentor and teacher to potential adversaries. The story line rarely loses its focus, and caring about Jodie's fate becomes easy from the opening scenes.
How other characters react to your decisions makes replaying the game almost a requirement; as with any good movie, the more you watch events unfold, the more subtleties you notice and appreciate. Some decisions help forge new relationships, while others may tear the fabric of Jodie's peace just when she's getting comfortable in her surroundings.
The game delivers several tense moments, including a fight sequence aboard a speeding train and infiltration of a secret laboratory. More character-driven passages involve aiding a family under harassment or finding food and supplies when you are sheltered by a community of homeless people.
With Heavy Rain, Cage tested the rules and boundaries of what a video game could be. With Beyond: Two Souls, he has gone a few steps further, and this cinematic game remains more movie-like than many Hollywood feature films.
RATING M for mature
PLOT A girl and her spirit companion traverse the globe
DETAILS PlayStation 3, $59.99
BOTTOM LINE The action unreels more like a movie than a video game.