Review: Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls Collection (PS4)
It’s pretty unbelievable to think that Heavy Rain is already 6 years old. I remember playing it for that first time as if it were yesterday. The desperation, the thrill, the intensity. It’s impossible to forget. Beyond: Two Souls isn’t as old but was impressive in its own right. Both games have now received the remastered treatment and while Beyond: Two Souls released last year already, it’s the first time it sits on this collection. Do they stand the test of time? Let’s see.
Heavy Rain was pretty special when it releases back in 2010. At the time of playing it I maintained that it was the best gaming experience I’ve ever had. There was just nothing like it. Decisions that mattered, multiple (numerous) endings, intrigue and of course lots of very intense moments.
Heavy Rain, for those who don’t know, is a psychological thriller that has you playing initially as Ethan Mars. Ethan’s son gets kidnapped by a serial killer called the Origami Killer, who picks children as his victims and drowns them. The game centres around Ethan’s attempt to find his son.
We don’t only play as Ethan in the game but also as Scott Shelby, a private detective on the case, Madison Page who is a journalist and FBI agent Norman Jayden. Each character has their own specific sections which places them in the midst of the action in one way or another. No matter which character you are things are always a little tense.
It’s not just about Story…
There’s a lot more to Heavy Rain than just the story. It’s got a type of gameplay which is truly unique to Quantic. It’s essentially a QTE-filled experience which has you matching the buttons on the screen. This is not as easy as you might think and things can get a little tricky, especially under the circumstances.
Apart from the QTE’S and action scenes there are also branching conversations. In any situation you will have a number of options in terms of paths to take and your story will unfold depending on your decisions. It’s a formula that I find works wonderfully and even after so many years still manages to feel fresh.
So what’s new pussycat?
Heavy Rain really doesn’t come with much added to its original release. The gameplay is the exact same with all the same possible endings. It’s got the same story and same characters. The only real change is that the visuals have been upgraded to match the current gen capabilites of the PS4.
I must say I was pretty impressed with the graphics in general. There are some amazing environments with tons of detail in them, and the character models look fantastic in 1080p. One disappointment was that some of the voice acting was quite terrible. A few characters sound very robotic and it’s a pity they didn’t fix this up for the game.
Some voice acting issues aside, Heavy Rain still plays wonderfully and it remains one of the best experiences I’ve had in a game. Even playing and knowing who the killer is and all the other twists, didn’t make it any less brilliant. In fact it might have actually been more enjoyable because I picked up things I missed previously.
It never rains…it pours?
I’m using that term in a positive light here. Heavy Rain just pours at brilliance all over the place. It’s a game that’s every bit impressive as it was when it first released and for anyone who hasn’t played it it’s an absolute treat. For anyone who has, you won’t be sorry playing it again. It’s a special game.
I know I have to score the game as a collection but it is possible to buy Heavy Rain separately. If you do, it’s easily a 9.5/10 from me.
Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls released back in 2013 and while many were disappointed in Quantic’s follow up to Heavy Rain, there were many who were impressed with what it had offer. I was definitely one of those people who was impressed. It wasn’t without its faults but overall I once again loved the experience.
Looking beyond the story…
Okay, I’ll admit that the story in Beyond: Two Souls is a little all over the place. It’s about a girl, Jodie, who is born with a special gift. She has an ‘entity’ attached to her which she interacts with. This entity is called Aiden and makes up the playable cast in the game.
Jodie obviously goes through a tough childhood as they try to explain her gift. Along the way she moves to a facility, the CIA and a whole lot more. It’s really a memoir of Jodie’s life that we get to experience throughout the game and all the different story sections show a lot of diversity.
It’s not a game you say?
Well I understand this point of view. Some might call it a walking sim, and you wouldn’t be wrong I guess. Beyond doesn’t have to be controlled all that much but when you do control stuff, particularly Aiden, it’s done absolutely brilliantly.
Sure the QTE stuff can get a bit much at times but the sandbox sections are fantastic and there is even a military section which plays completely differently too. It has twists in every corner and that includes gameplay and story.
Performance to be proud of
What stood out for Beyond: Two Souls back in 2013, and what stands out again, is the visuals and acting performances. Ellen Page and Willem Defoe are simply magnificent in their roles, and the support cast do an incredible job too.
If you thought Beyond: Two Souls looked good on PS3 you simply have to see it on the PS4. I was honestly just blown away at the visuals in every single scene of the game. It’s truly something to behold.
Anything new Beyond the original?
Yes, while Heavy Rain is simply a visual upgrade, Beyond is a whole lot more. It has the visual upgrade also, which I could go on about for days. It’s just that amazing to look at, but there’s more.
Beyond: Two Souls has a few new features such as percentages at the end of each session showing you which path others took. It’s a nice touch and at the same time allows you to see what others picked and just how many different options there are.
Secondly the game now allows you to play in chronological order. If you played the original it moved into different time frames constantly and to be honest sometimes felt like a bit of a mess. The option to play chronologically from the start is great, but I recommend you try it both ways if you can.
Lastly, the remaster also includes the DLC that hit the PS3. It’s a nifty little package of puzzle rooms that Jodie and Aiden have to work out together. It’s timed and you need to see how far you can get, which adds a bit of pressure but it’s actually quite fantastic to play and a most welcome inclusion in the game that really changes the pace from the main game quite considerably.
A soul worth saving?
Beyond: Two Souls is again going to be hit and miss for those who play it. I personally loved it. The story, the acting, the visuals and the gameplay. It’s got a bit of everything in it and tries to be really different from anything else that exists out there. Sure it still loses the plot with some tacky stuff at one point but it’s not enough for me to be bothered.
With all the additions and the graphical improvement I have to say that Beyond: Two Souls was a joy to play through again. Numerous endings means it’s a different experience, so again those who have played it can try again and those that haven’t…well it’s certainly worth a go.
If I had to score Beyond alone, it’s a definite 8.5/10 for me.