Heavy Rain & Beyond: Two Souls packs an emotional blow

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When it was released in 2010, Heavy Rain was hailed as a visual masterpiece. But time has not been kind and the game now looks pretty dated. Even with the graphical upgrade it’s been given, you’d be very hard pressed to see any significant difference between this version and the original.

Played from the perspective of several different people, your aim in Heavy Rain is to track down the ‘Origami Killer’, who has been murdering children. All of the characters live a horrible existence, but the story drags you in nonetheless.

What makes Heavy Rain so interesting is that the multiple story paths mean that any of the characters you play can die and stay dead for the remainder of the story. Normally when you play a game, running across an exploding planet shooting wildly at alien hoards is no great shakes, but when it may mean the permanent end to the character you’re playing then suddenly even crossing the road becomes terrifying.

The device works remarkably well. Something that can’t be said for the control system. During the game’s action sequences you simply have to hit the right button at the correct time or move one of the analogue sticks in the right direction. Not terribly engaging or skilful, but at least fairly simple. However, moving around and investigating is incredibly cumbersome and quickly becomes annoying.

However, Heavy Rain’s engaging story makes up for these shortcomings – the original release was rightly seen as a new high-point in video games as a storytelling art form and while the game has certainly aged, you can still see why it deserved such praise.

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Beyond: Two Souls has made the next-gen leap significantly better than Heavy Rain. The game looks great and with heavy hitters such as Willem Dafoe playing major characters, the acting is also a step up.

In its original release, the game was not played in chronological order. While this was interesting, it wasn’t necessarily interesting in a good way. This has been fixed and you can now play the game in sequence or in a confusing mish-mash of time that ruins the narrative. You’re choice.

You play as Jodie, a girl who has a spirit attached to her that can move objects, possess people or even kill them. Having been observed since a very early age by government forces, you must decide the right route for your powers while those around you try to manipulate you.

The story is certainly broad and questing – taking you on an adventure from sterile laboratories to Navajo settlements in the desert to demon-possessed portals under the sea.

The controls in Two Souls are also problematic, but nowhere near as bad as Heavy Rain. The story is beautifully told with even the ending involving a choice you can make. The emotional investment you are likely to make with the main character Jodie makes you feel genuine warmth towards those who are kind to her and angry with those who are cruel.

Both games are flawed, but both also overcome their problems to achieve something approaching greatness. It’s like watching the greatest HBO boxset where you get to choose what happens in the story.

If you’ve played either of these games before on the PS3 then there may not be enough in this two-pack rerelease to be worth your money, but if you haven’t, then this is a great two-for-the-price-of-one deal that is well worth checking out.

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Quantic Dream
Playstation 4
£29.99 (18+)