Dark, mysterious and philosophical; it’s time to revisit Heavy Rain & Beyond: Two Souls
It’s been almost six years since Quantic Dream’s masterful Heavy Rain landed for the Playstation 3. In that time it’s become a cult classic for the platform, followed up by the more philosophical and fragmented Beyond: Two Souls in 2013. Through these two games Quantic Dream set a standard for interactive dramas on consoles, paving the way for games like Until Dawn to put a new spin on the formula.
For those that missed out the first time, or like myself wanting to re-experience these games, the Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls collection brings these games into 2016 for the now quite large Playstation 4 userbase. This is a pretty fantastic move, allowing a whole range of players to get in on the action.Heavy Rain is easily my favourite game of the two in this package. Placing you in control of several characters revolving around the mysterious Origami killer, most notably, a father who’s son may be the latest victim. While playing as this cast of seemingly unrelated characters the narrative grabs you and doesn’t let go, leading to some of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make in a game. At the core of the experience the game asks you what you’d do to save someone you love, and tests this question as often as it can.
The remastered content here is largely minimal, but it does make quite a difference while playing. You won’t see any control updates or new content, but a higher resolution, new shadows and lighting all bring the game out of 2010, looking much more at home on the Playstation 4. The actors performances still look great with these new enhancements, making relating to the cast of characters easy.As majority of the game plays out in straightforward quicktime events everything still functions as it should. My only major gameplay issues with this re-release is that they didn’t tweak some of the systems that were outdated in 2010, seeming positively archaic now. The main culprit is the hold R2 to move and janky controls as the cinematic camera shifts. This was something criticised at launch and while the core experience is still as playable as ever, it would have been nice to see some enhancements here.
Minor problems aside, Heavy Rain remains a memorable experience filled with mystery, pain and discovery. At every turn you can discover something new and branching narratives allow for plenty of opportunities to relive the experience.The second game in the collection, Beyond: Two Souls, puts you in the shoes of Jodie Holmes, played by Ellen Page. You experience her life over a span of fifteen years, a troublesome life due to her being tethered to a mysterious soul called Aidan. This dynamic fundamentally changes Jodie’s life for better and for worse, helping her but also leaving her exposed to all manner of horrors both human and otherworldly. It’s a compelling narrative that worked well at first play – if not becoming little convoluted – and still held up as an interesting ride in my replay thanks to the expansive branching narrative and the collection’s updated chronological mode.
As a part of the remastered content, players are now able to experience the story of Beyond in its chronological order, a feature that’s most certainly welcome. I recommend new players go through the story as Quantic Dream first released it due to some really clever transitions and engaging mystery, but this new mode does remove some of the more incomprehensible and awkward tonal shifts the base game had. This new take on the narrative does a much better job of exploring who Jodie is and the impact Aidan has on her life.
While the game looked pretty fantastic back on the Playstation 3, it shines on Playstation 4. With upgraded textures and new lighting effects, the game feels even more cinematic. This is the core of the improvements for this re-release, the rest of Beyond is pretty much exactly what the PS3 got, save for a few control updates for combat and a new choice briefing at the end of each section. Motion capture performances from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe steal the show once again, bringing a lot of emotional power to the central characters in the game.I had no major issues while playing the game, with textures loading as they should and QTE’s as responsive as ever. Beyond: Two Souls is still a fascinating interactive tale that while not perfect, delivers an engaging story with great performances and grand ideas.
This is without a doubt the best way to experience Quantic Dream’s two PS3 classics. The games look and run better than ever thanks to some flashy new technical upgrades, and I especially enjoyed playing Heavy Rain once again. If you’ve never experienced these two games, this pack is a must – offering enhanced versions and Beyond’s chronological mode for returning players.
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
A digital review code was provided by the publisher.