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Spoilers for the Mission, Norah and Dragon’s Hideout chapters in Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

Well, I got nothing cuz crazy family. An emotional eleven year old will seriously hurt gaming time. And sanity.

But I do have a gripe.

So the kid in the mission. Turns out his dad is working with the president there, right? Ergo, it is not a stretch to say the kids dad is a Kevin, right? And yet, when Jody is all “I have to get to that tower where your Kevin father is, killing other Kevins all the while,” the kid is all “yeah, cool. Glad to help.”

And then he’s all mad when Jody kills all the Kevins.

So there, with Jody barfing cuz she killed dudes (huh?) and the kid being all “Kevin! No!” None of it makes sense.

And that’s annoying. That’s supposed to be a pivotal scene, and it’s totally contrived.

Which begs the question: in a game where the WHOLE thing is story (there’s no significant gameplay here), are we allowed to be angrier with narrative bullshit than we’d be in a game with some story, but a focus on gameplay, like, say, tr?

Cuz the more I think about this level, the angrier I get. Which is never a good sign.

Feminina:

Yeah, I wondered about that too. What did the kid think Jodie was trying to do? What was HE trying to do?

Maybe he was trying to get to safety/his dad and thought Jodie was just trying to help him? This assumes that all the people trying to stop you both from approaching his dad/the president were on the ‘wrong’ side and he was totally cool with killing them, and there did appear to have been at least two different factions involved in the fighting here, but I don’t know how he (or we) could have told the difference since they weren’t wearing different uniforms or anything.

Best I can spin it, cutting the story slack and reading between the lines and all, the kid was trying to get to his dad who he knew was guarding the lawfully elected president, and he figured this foreigner (maybe he could even tell she was American from the accent) was interested in protecting the lawfully elected president because Americans are so dedicated to democracy and all. So he thought she was trying to help the president and thus his dad, and that’s why his outrage is all the more bitter when it turns out the heroic American is actually there to assassinate the lawfully elected president.

Because we kind of glossed over that part of the discussion, didn’t we? The horrible betrayal of Jodie and of American ideals? Perhaps because we’re too jaded ourselves (or just jaded enough), and assume that OF COURSE America is a huge hypocrite about democracy and really only thinks it’s a good idea if the right person (for America) gets elected.

I mean, didn’t your suspicion-meter go off right at the beginning, when Ryan was explaining the mission as “this guy must be stopped because he’s preventing all our humanitarian aid from getting through?” At that moment I was thinking “haha dude, I totally buy that the CIA’s main priority is humanitarian aid, sure. What’s your REAL angle?”

But Jodie, apparently, believed it, and so I accepted it briefly for her sake as “well, even if I’m skeptical that the real CIA cares that much, I suppose that could be the motivation of the game-CIA.” And then I was merely proved right to have been skeptical, but Jodie was genuinely upset to find out she’d been used to assassinate a legitimate foreign leader. (As one would be, I imagine.) So it works for her character, as a sheltered person raised by the government more or less, and believing all the nice things a country says about itself, who then has a really hard break from that belief, and abandons it all to wind up on the streets with Stan and Company. Running away seems like a reasonable response for a basically decent person.

And maybe that kid was meant to be a bit like her, right? Maybe he also believed the nice things America says about itself, or used to say about itself, and his (justified) horror and disillusionment are then kind of the first stage in Jodie’s own journey towards realization, and the attendant jaded bitterness the rest of us enjoy.

So…in that light, I can kind of forgive the kid part of the story.

I still can’t forgive the “oh my god what have I done?” vomiting moment, though. It’s way too late at that point for a big “I have become a killer” realization.

Butch:

Maybe…uh…hmm. The problem with that is, at the end there, pretty much everyone, including the kid, is anti Jody. There were no factions. Which means either a) your logic is illogical or b) killing the president united everyone, that wasn’t so bad, we’re heroes.

Or…something.

Yeah….we’ll go with his outrage being about democracy. Cuz there’s nothing else to go with.

We glossed on that, yes. But I forgive our gloss as this game is playing with many themes, yes, but patriotism and what it means isn’t really one of them. This game didn’t get you to be all “rah rah” only to have a “gotcha” moment. Parenting, caring for people (or not), protecting or stifling, that’s really what the game’s about. So betrayal of American ideals…that’s there, but it isn’t really what this game is doing. So we glossed. We’re cool.

Actually, the meter that tripped for me was “Shit, game really? Another trope? A Muslim warlord is the baddie and the Kevins are brown people speaking Arabic? REALLY?” I spent most of that scene rolling my eyes at the game, once again, being tropey.

And, let’s once again wonder: is the game being tropey cuz tropes, or are they intentionally playing with tropes? I wish you had played the bar scene, but you didn’t. But you DID play this, so we can look at the trope of “Brown skinned Muslim warlord is bad guy” that got flipped to “Why no, turns out brown skinned Muslim was a pretty good guy.”

I STILL can’t tell if I’m mad at this game or not! I HATE that!

And, well… I get the “kid journey towards realization” bit. That I’ll give you. The idea of “I thought this person was helping! She healed me!” only to find “Turns out the helpers weren’t helpers at all. They were using me.” THAT is a themey parallel. Not sure I’m buying the grand ideals about America, though.

Though…if we’re going with this…what do you make of her later finding, not one but two groups that America has pretty much fucked? The homeless and the Navajo? That’s two groups of American outcasts that were kind to her. There something to that? Especially when she’s wanted for, not murder, but treason?

And yeah, the vomiting was pretty lame.

Ok, just finished a home improvement project I’ve been meaning to do for years. YEARS! It involved sawdust. I’m sweaty and dirty. But you know what I figure I’ve earned?

GAMES!

Be back soon.

Feminina:

You deserve it! Game on!

And I agree, patriotism and the rightness or not of specific systems of government and so forth is not really a theme here. However, I think that government in a kind of general sense is relevant, as a larger version of the ‘family’ theme we’ve seen.

This is kind of just another step for Jodie of finding out that people don’t care about her, right?

“These are your parents and care about you, oh no actually they aren’t your parents and this guy actively hates you and this woman sort of cares but not enough to argue when they abandon you in a government facility.”

“These two particular scientists are dedicated to you and care about you, except it turns out that they can’t or won’t actually do anything when some other government agency comes and wants to take you away.”

“This guy accepts you and loves you, except he lied to you to get you to do something horrible.”

“This is your government and it cares about you and wants to do good things in the world, except actually it doesn’t care about you or good things at all.”

This was the final step for her–NOBODY cares about her as a person (except Aiden), and no one can be trusted to stand up for her (except Aiden). I think you’re right that this chapter is not some stinging indictment of American foreign policy or anything, but I think it IS meant to be a statement on how everything in society, from the family, to the idea of medicine/science, to a lover, to the government itself, has betrayed and/or failed Jodie at this point.

So she runs, and finds…other people who do care about her, and who, coincidentally (?) the government also doesn’t care about. I’m not sure if that’s really saying that government is evil and incapable of caring (government is after all composed of people, and Cole, at least, does seem to care about her as a person and tries to help her), but it’s certainly interesting.

And yes, yes, the “it’s been so done” brown, Arabic-speaking bad guys bit was good for a sigh, and then, as you say, kind of flipped at the end, when it turned out WE were the bad guys, so it’s hard to say if it was a trope, or was turning the trope around. We could argue that even the formulaic nature of the level, with all the not-very-tense sneaking and so forth, was meant to lull us into a sense of “yeah yeah, we’ve done this before, everything’s fine, I’m the good guy even though I’m killing all these people,” which is meant to make the eventual reveal more potent. The monster is me!

But I don’t know, at least SOME of them must have been actually bad guys. Or, you know, at least guys on different sides, and one of them was the president’s and therefore good (as it later turned out). Because as you say after we killed the president there were no factions (as far as we could tell), but there were at least significant enough differences of opinion before that, that some guys were dragging other guys around and shooting them in the street. And those people we stealthed past presumably weren’t patrolling for the fun of it, or just to give us something to sneak around (however it may have seemed at the time): they were ready for attack by someone.

Which I guess could have been the CIA for all we know, Ryan might also have lied about there not being any other Americans in the country, but if so that is not revealed to Jodie, and the news announcer did say that this newly elected president had been a hope for peace in a troubled land or whatever.

So I think there were factions, and I think we’re meant to believe that the people in the immediate area may have been briefly united in anger at Jodie for killing the president (I mean, I don’t like our president, but I still don’t want some foreign government coming in and assassinating him willy nilly), but not that a stable and functional government is going to coalesce around that rage.

Which would actually be fine if government is evil, probably these people in this war-torn land would be better off without it! Hm. Yeah, maybe they’re not exactly saying government is evil.

But certainly, it failed Jodie as a human in this moment.

Butch:

Hmm. Ok. I’ll go with that. Levels of not caring.

And another instance of “Wonder how that’d be if we played chronologically.”

Interestingly, you’re THINKING about it chronologically.

Maybe if they hadn’t done the timeline. Which’ll be for another day.

Maybe “the monster is me” is the reveal. But I still think you’re trying to stretch to justify this.

I think it’s best we move on from this level before you pull a muscle trying to explain/justify it.

Cuz I played!

And DAMMIT I was on such a roll that I was sure I was gonng be all “Femmy! Finished it!” But no.

So I bet you know where I got to.

Met mom. Killed mom. You? Figured she wanted out. Good scene.

Now…

Did you peek in on the others? Did you find the one that said “I SEE you Aiden….”

Which was creepy. But also rather intriguing in that he knew Aiden’s name. I always got the sense that Jody named Aiden herself. Here’s this thing that just goes brrrbgrrrb, and it needs a name, like a teddy bear does. So she picked Aiden.

But I guess not.

And that missable! Which is kinda cool. Did you get that?

Then I did ALL of Dragon’s Hideout! And figured “This is the END man! This feels BOSS FIGHT!” and I was happy! And then no, I’m a kid again, and I remembered that Dawkins has one of these, and the game isn’t over and DAMMIT.

But Dragon’s Hideout.

Also a rather actiony level. Though I think I liked it better than the mission, cuz it felt like more than killin’ Kevins.

So how’d you go?

I got out of the base. I told Ryan I was still mad, but kissed him anyway cuz he was about to die and all. And he died. Blew up the condenser, as one does.

Now…was the thing that killed the bad guy at the end there Aiden? Or some other thing from the rift?

Interesting thing about protection: Jody was supposed to kinda protect Ryan, right? She was powerful and all that. But I let him lose an eye, and he died, and I TOLD him I loved him but I didn’t really. More “I’ll protect you, and lie that I love you, then let you down entirely.” But this time it was Jody and, through choices, me. But only if you MADE those choices.

Which is kinda cool.

But I’m still not done and DAMMIT.

Cuz I see you played Captain Spirit. Done yet?

Feminina:

I didn’t peek in on the others! I should have. More false urgency. I went all over the place knocking out cameras so we wouldn’t be seen (and of course we were caught anyway), and then thought “gotta get to mom now now now!”

That’s EXTREMELY interesting that one of them saw and even recognized Aiden. How did that work, I wonder? Has Aiden been in touch with people using infraworld email or something? Or was he able to introduce himself somehow in that moment with a “hi I’m Aiden” message Jodie can’t understand? Hm.

But yes, I killed her. And took her necklace. Speaking of unexplained reactions, I really thought Jodie’s “oh mom it’s great to see you” response, as well as Norah’s “it’s so great to see YOU!” one, were a bit out of place considering they’ve never even met and know nothing about each other, but I suppose we can read that as partially wishful thinking (they each WANTED to feel that connection) as well as perhaps partially a genuine semi-mystical connection (after all, they both have some weird tie to the infraworld, so maybe they recognized each other immediately on a soul-deep level or something).

Anyway, I was willing to go with it.

Dragon’s Hideout…more interesting differences. I didn’t let them torture Ryan, I was just like “we work for the CIA and they want your condenser” or something, the minute they threatened him with the knife. Screw company loyalty, man. What has the CIA done for me but get me into messes? I’ll sing like a canary, I don’t care.

And I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, or not, but my Ryan survived. We both made it out, and the other two guys (in a frankly unexplained bit of convenient timing) picked us up on the ice while we were lying there waiting to freeze to death. I didn’t kiss him or tell him I loved him, I don’t even remember that being an option, but I did save his life, so maybe he was content with that. He’d better be.

I also kind of liked that level. Even though you still couldn’t die, it felt tenser to me than the pseudo-shooter Mission chapter and the setting was interesting, running around the underwater base, and having to go blow up the condenser was kind of fun. (An underwater bit where you didn’t have to swim! They’re looking out for you, man.)

And that fish-ghost or whatever it was that was chasing people around, that thing was creepy…and no, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to be Aiden, it was something that came out of their condenser. Some ancient predator spirit? Unclear. But it was into impaling people in a timely fashion before they could kill me, and I appreciated that.

Dude, how did you kill Ryan?

Butch:

I did the cameras too! But that made me think “Ok, we’re cool. Gonna explore.”

With the guy recognizing Aiden, you just go in and he was all “I seeeeee you Aiden…..” all creepy and shit. But looking off into the middle distance, so it seemed “see” meant more “sense.”

The other patients weren’t too specific. Voices in heads, etc. One saying over and over “I have to notice the details, every detail…”

But “I see you Aiden” sure stood out.

I got that she and her mom had some mystical connection. Though, on that, I got in my stats “Leaned your father’s name,” to which I said “Huh? Missed that…..” What’s my father’s name?

On the torture, I was just more like “why save that guy? That guy was a schmuck. Lied to me, left me sobbing, alone in bed, whatever.” He can live with only one eye.

Seriously. Eww.

Maybe he didn’t die though. Cuz we were sitting there waiting to die, and he got all quiet, and he said “See you on the other side,” and then the guys showed up. Dunno. Might be dead.

He told me he loved me, and asked if I was mad, and I said yes. Then he asked all “Do you love me?” and really, how can you break a guy’s heart when he’s about to die? I mean, hardly any commitment there. So I was all “Yes,” and we smooched and then maybe he died or maybe he didn’t.

But now I’m not sure I did kill him. He was just all “See you…shiver…on the other side….shiver….” and got all still and dudes showed up. Maybe he’s ok.

In which case, I kinda regret my choice on the love thing, because now there’s gonna be awkwardness.

Always more awkward when you try to let a guy down easy and he survives.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Dude, the minute I saw water my heart sank. I was SO mad. And then so relieved.

Much tenser than the psuedo-shooter. MUCH. Wonder why. Maybe because it didn’t look so much like a shooter? More removed?

Was that the ghost fish that impaled the guy? I couldn’t tell. Maybe. I read it as maybe Aiden.

But wasn’t that ghost fish the same thing that we had to deal with in the desert there? I think it was.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, he’s probably still alive then.

“I’m…dying…I…love…you…Psych! You love me! You said it! Now you have to marry me and bear my children and assassinate my enemies.”

I feel like maybe Cole told me my father’s name before we went in? As you no doubt recall, there was one of those conversations where you know you aren’t going to get to cover all the possible options, so you have to really pick what you want to ask about. I think one of them was “father.” He said something like “he died before you were born” and that was pretty much it. I don’t remember what the name was, precisely, because as soon as I heard he was dead I thought “OK, that’s one thing I’m not going to have to follow up on, file as irrelevant” but I think it was mentioned.

I don’t think the fish-ghost was the same as the spirit in the desert. This one looked a lot more…fishy to me. A ghost ichthyosaur was what I thought of, with big teeth and a long tail. Whereas the one in the desert seemed to have claws that it would kind of stab into the ground, and a more wolflike face. To the extent that it had a face.

I think probably they were meant to be similar TYPES of creature, big scary old spirits from the netherworld–sorry, I mean infraworld, so very clever that that means exactly the same thing–but I don’t think they were actually the same being.

Oh, and about Captain Spirit: I have not finished it. It’s not long, though. Give me a couple of days.

Butch:

Yeah, cuz then it’s even more awkward if you’re all “Uh…I was lying” and he’s all “Wait, the last thing you wanted me to see on this earth was you lying to me?????”

No good off ramp on that road.

Yeah! There was no name. I remember the “died before you were born” bit. Whatever.

Ichthyosaur? For real? You thought THAT?

Of course you did.

Captain Spirit any good? I want to get to it this week.

Feminina:

What’s wrong with thinking of ichthyosaurs?! It’s a completely valid impression. I mean, aside from the fact that I kept calling it ‘fishy’ and they were actually reptiles. That’s a classification error for sure.

“Uh…well…see I meant it at the TIME, right? I loved you IN THAT MOMENT, because we’d just gone through so much together and it was so intense and I was just so glad we were both alive. But now in the cold light of not having narrowly escaped death moments ago, I’ve realized we’re not right for each other. I’d only hurt you. Probably by letting Aiden accidentally choke you to death next time you lied to me about a mission. Oops, did I say that out loud?”

Butch:

Nothing wrong with ichthyosaurs. Nothing at all.

You’ve just been watching too much Dinosaur Train.

I’ve gotten out of SO many awkward situations with that whole “My invisible double soul will likely kill you” excuse. Always makes people just skitter away! Remarkably successful.

I mean, sometimes they ask about my medication first, but then they leave, so it’s all good.

Feminina:

I resent the implication that I need Dinosaur Train to make me think of ichthyosaurs. I was a dinosaur-obsessed child myself, you know. I remember things.

I remember…things…

Butch:

Oh great. The heat has baked your mind, too.

We’re doomed.

It’s really hot out there.

Which means it’s really hot in here. I envy your nice, shady living room with an AC unit. Really, really envy it.

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