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Beyond Two Souls review round-up: Critics Cagey on Heavy Rain follow-up

All the verdicts in one place

In our Beyond: Two Souls review we said has "impressive facial animation" and features a "solid performance by Ellen Page" but is let down by "clumsy, unnatural dialogue" and a lack of a "sense that you're having any impact on the story".

We awarded the latest from Heavy Rain studio Quantic Dreama score of 6; other reviewers have also started delivering their verdicts on the game and we've gathered the scores, along with short excerpts from the reviews, for a review round-up.

Take a look at its reception below:

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  • CVG: 6 - Great lead performance and tech, wasted on a lacklustre story.
  • New York Times: No score - Beyond: Two Souls is a misstep for Mr. Cage and Quantic Dream, but its failings are not the result of the limitations of Mr. Cage's preferred medium. That it is interesting at all hinges on its interactive nature. It would be one of the worst movies you've ever seen, even though Ms. Page and Mr. Dafoe give fine performances.
  • Polygon: 8 - With Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream has smoothed away nearly all the rough edges in how it presents its stories. The other edge of that sword is that it lays the stories themselves bare to be judged entirely on their own. With so many of the traditional elements of gameplay stripped away, like challenge and exploration, a tremendous amount of weight is put on Beyond's story to carry the day. While it's exhilarating to see a team that has worked so hard to perfect a new way of telling stories, I couldn't help wishing they had a perfect one to tell.
  • Edge: 5/10 - The studio's commendable dream - of a marriage of mechanics and storytelling that takes videogames to new emotional heights - remains out of reach, and the rivers of photorealistic tears aren't quite enough to make up for it.
  • Next Gen Gaming Blog: 9/10 - Beyond: Two Souls is another stunning example of the types of risks Sony is taking right now. Quantic Dream have taken everything Heavy Rain put on the table and refined it to perfection, creating a deep and engrossing narrative that twists and turns its way to a satisfying conclusion. A truly engaging experience from start to finish, Beyond: Two Souls is a superb title, and yet again, Quantic Dream are at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of interactive entertainment.
  • Eurogamer: 6/10 - Beyond's approach is no less valid than any of those. But the film stars, the motion capture tech, the black borders, all that expensive striving to look just like a movie, don't make it any more valid either. Perhaps what David Cage and his dream need are limitations - limitations that Sony's blank cheque has singularly failed to impose on this sprawling, over-reaching game.
  • VideoGamer: 4 - The narrative's problems feed into the mechanics. Aiden's powers - and how they're exerted - are woefully inconsistent with the story, and the game is utterly straightforward in its moment-to-moment interaction with the player. Which would be fine if the game's narrative hooked you in. But it doesn't. There are bright moments, but when a game sells itself on a story, said story better be good. This one isn't, and anyone expecting Heavy Rain 2 is going to be sorely disappointed.
  • Destructoid: 5/10 - For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond -- and they can be leveled in feckless abundance -- the overwhelming problem with it is that it's just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they're feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing.
  • IGN: 6.0 - Scene by scene, Beyond: Two Souls is compelling enough, principally thanks to a remarkable performance from Ellen Page. But never before have I felt like such a passive participant in a video game, my choices and actions merely icing on a dense, multi-layered cake. Playing Beyond is a memorable experience, yes, but a good video game it is not; and while the credits were rolling I admit to thinking I would have been happier to sit back and watch a movie version that was eight-and-a-half hours shorter.
  • GameSpot: 9.0 - Beyond: Two Souls is a fascinating experience that expertly links story and mechanics to further your connection to the world.
  • Digital Spy: 5/5 - Plot and cinematics are its greatest strengths, but when you factor in some of the finest graphics ever seen on the PS3 and the level of originality on offer, Quantic Dream's masterpiece is worthy of superlatives.
  • Games TM: 8/10 - Cage's quotes are often sneered at and derided as the lamentations of an arrogant and misguided creator who yearns to be a filmmaker. In truth, though, he's a true visionary; someone who believes in the power of games and of interactivity. Beyond: Two Souls is his most ambitious and complete work to date, and while it might lack the threat of Heavy Rain's disposable protagonists, it replaces it with unimaginable polish and technical magicianship. Not all videogames should be like Beyond Two Souls. But be thankful that some are. Another flawed but essential tale from a man who genuinely cares and a publisher that believes in the power of videogames.
  • Kotaku: Yes - This flawed, interesting game's greatest paradox may well be that it can succeed at things few big-budget video games have attempted, while failing so consistently at things less ambitious games accomplish regularly. If David Cage would simply put aside his fascination with the spangly charms of Hollywood and embrace the smaller, more intimate possibilities of interactive fiction, he might finally seize the masterpiece he's been chasing all these years. Until then, we have Beyond: Two Souls: Quiet, compassionate and smart, when it isn't busy being loud, brash and dumb.
  • Official PlayStation Magazine: 8 - Beyond's a huge technical step forward for interactive drama, but seems less resolute than Heavy Rain not to stray back into familiar game territory. Commit to it like its actors do to the eccentric plot, though, and the rewards are gigantic - Holmes is where the heart is. Another essential purchase for interactive-drama disciples featuring a knockout turn by Page, but one that spreads itself thin telling its story through so many genres.
  • God Is Geek: 9/10 - It has its faults, but the overall package is something that will be spoken about for years to come. A sci-fi epic that Hollywood could only dream of putting on the silver screen, Beyond's strength is in its ability to engage you with its world, with even the most simple of activities. Ellen Page has given the performance of her life and David Cage has penned the best script of his. When AAA releases are serving up so much similarity, Quantic Dream buck the trend and offer something different. Don't put your PlayStation 3 back in its box just yet, or you'll miss the studio's biggest triumph to date.
  • Venture Beat: 88/100 - Beyond is hands-down one of the most emotionally accomplished experiences I have ever had in a video game, and it's enjoyable from start to finish. The controls and gameplay are tiresome, and they can be difficult to manage (or boring), but they're of little consequence compared to the well-written story, the depth of the characters, and the empathy you feel toward them. Jodie and Aiden are such singular and profound video game characters because you don't play them - you become them, sharing the same soul.
  • GamingBolt: 8 - Beyond: Two Souls is yet another solid PlayStation 3 exclusive and yet again shows Sony's strong support for its aging hardware, even with the imminent launch of the PS4. Its visuals, voice acting and certain gameplay features will suck you right in but there is a fair chance that its somewhat convoluted plot and repetitive quick time events may drain your patience on occasion.
  • Electronic Theatre: 84% - A videogame developed to the highest of standards, Beyond: Two Souls is an equally confusing and compelling experience. The gameplay has barely progressed from Heavy Rain - certainly not enough to warrant the three year gap between releases - but in terms of story delivery it's light years ahead. This will prove to be an issue for some as the story won't appeal to everyone, but any gamer worth their salt will be able to look beyond the surface presentation and into the finer detail of its delivery. Beyond: Two Souls is a flawed experience, far more so than its Quantic Dream brethren, and yet it remains so unique and enthralling that you can forgive it for the occasional misstep.
  • ShackNews: 5/10 - If David Cage was aspiring to be like a Hollywood director, he's succeeded with Beyond: Two Souls. Perhaps he can be best compared to George Lucas. Both are visionaries, with exciting views on the future of cinema and games, respectively. However, neither are particularly skilled storytellers. With Beyond, Cage shows us what the future of games could be--but ultimately fails to take us there.
  • PSU: 9.5 - Beyond isn't without its frustrating moments. A few technical hiccups where interactive spots can be hard to find, or disappear for a short while, have left me trapped in an area for much longer than I hoped, while interactions for the most mundane of things can be excessive. Nevertheless, come the final curtain, you'll almost certainly be impressed by what's been achieved. Beyond: Two Souls is as much an experience as it is a game with cinematic production to rival Hollywood movies, strong storytelling, solid characters and some brilliant interactive sequences. Without doubt, it's up there with my favourite games of this console generation. Not only is Beyond: Two Souls the best-looking game to have ever graced PS3, but it's also a very powerful and evocative drama that wouldn't be out of place on the big screen. You need this game in your life
  • Game Informer: 7.75 - I wish the story would have focused more on its emotional core than blockbuster theatrics, but I was still struck dumb by the impactful last hour. In the end, you make a truly profound choice, and see its consequences. There are multiple endings - none perfectly happy, each powerful. That's how I'll choose to remember Beyond - brilliant and flawed at once.
  • Metro: 4/10 - The visuals are incredible, but for a game obsessed with storytelling at all costs the dopey plot and underwritten characters in no way make up for the lack of gameplay.
  • BT Games: 3/5: f you're looking for a game that shows off what the PS3 can do, look no further than Beyond: Two Souls. The set design, character animation and visual effects are second-to-none. The plot may be a little iffy - especially given how it sets up a sequel - but if you want to watch an interactive movie, you won't find a better one.

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