Spoilers for the Hunted chapter of Beyond: Two Souls
So yesterday, was tired, was kinda grumpy, arm was sore cuz doctor, and I figured “Hey, you know? I could use some good, mellow narrative. What are the odds that the next chapter will be a bunch of stressful QTEs?”
Well, I didn’t get arrested, got off the train, that sort of thing. Again, I probably would’ve liked it more if I had been in a better mood. Even so, that was pretty good. Nice mix of tense and actiony. Cool motorcycle chase.
Maybe we can add “action sequence on train” to our list of things games should have. I enjoy those.
Even tired, I’m pretty good at the QTEs.
And very cool of the narrative to make us wonder what in holy hell Jody did.
I wonder if you could fail all that. I had some tense moments at the end, because I didn’t think about the helicopter until rather late. Jody was all “They’re almost here! They’re almost in!” and I’m running around all “What do I do? What do I do?” It sure FELT like there was a time limit, but I’m not sure there was. It went on long enough that I started thinking “Wait…can I chill? Maybe if I just chill…” which sort of broke the immersion and the very good lead up of tension (cuz that shit was tense). Either way, didn’t fail, ended the chapter.
So in all that, I figured out you can outright kill dudes with red auras, and I felt kinda icky about that. I was like “Wait….DUDE! Not cool!” Everyone’s all “She killed him!” (More on that in a minute.) And I, Butch, felt kinda bad, like “Whoa whoa whoa, that wasn’t the plan….” Which is weird cuz I kill dudes in games all the damn time. These were Kevins, right? Faceless dudes trying to kill me. And yet, something about all that, made me feel weird. Was it because I’ve seen Jody as an innocent child? Usually we don’t see that in games. We start the game a stone killer, we end as one. But here, we see Jody as a child drawing pictures. We see her awkward, trying to fit in at a party. We empathize. So when she kills a Kevin, there’s a “Wait….hold on…” moment that we don’t generally have when killing Kevin. At least I felt that way. You?
And yet, oddly, the bits where I possessed a dude and shot guys AS THAT DUDE I didn’t feel that weird. Which is also something that makes me ponder.
These guys kept saying “SHE killed him!” Which suggests that these guys have no idea about Aiden. Right? They’re not saying “Call off the ghost!” or anything.
And you just know, next time you play you’ll be all raring to go, “let me at some QTEs, I’m ready for tension!” and it’s going to be just some long, thoughtful wandering around looking at things.
Interesting question about ‘failing.’ My sense is that you can fail at specific goals in a sequence (for example, say I didn’t manage to escape the train, so I failed at that), but that whatever you do, the story will lead you to the same conclusion (having been arrested once, I then escaped later and still wound up running through the woods), so you can’t ‘fail’ in a way that will affect the ultimate outcome.
I think it’s like, everyone starts at point X and everyone ends up at point Y (basically you have to, or the out-of-sequence narrative wouldn’t work), but there are various paths you can take within the chapter to get from one to the other. I’ve come to think that maybe this is another function of that “you and % of other players” summary after each sequence: to demonstrate that your decisions and actions are counted, that they matter in a sense, even though they don’t actually have any real impact on where you end up.
I think the fact that you’re always going to end up in the same place could make your actions seem kind of inconsequential, especially without the mechanic of repeated deaths and respawns to remind you that you’ve failed and then, ultimately, succeeded, so maybe giving you a different means to evaluate your actions (comparing your path with other possible paths and other players) is supposed to help give them some sense of consequence.
Speaking of which, I don’t think you can fail in the sense that you die (I never have, and it’s certainly not because I’ve been SO DAMN GOOD at combat), and I don’t think you can do anything that significantly changes what any of the other major characters are going to do in any future sequences. I mean, basically you can’t be able to do anything that would change ‘future’ events, because you might have already witnessed them: obviously I can’t do anything that will result in Dawkins dying when I’m a kid, if I’ve already seen Dawkins in a chronologically later episode where I’m an adult.
So, again, this could make your choices feel less important (no matter what I do, eventually I’m going to get to where I need to be for the story to continue, and so will everyone else who matters). On the other hand, I kind of like this because it adds to the sense that you just have one story and the path you choose is one seamless thread from beginning to end (which also plays interestingly with the out-of-sequence chronology…everything is seamlessly tied together, and at the same time all jumbled up).
I’m perfectly accustomed to and comfortable with the dying and respawning mechanic, but narratively speaking in a literal sense it does break things up in weird ways. “Here’s my story where I fought that guy and died, and here’s my story where I fought him using this other weapon and still died, and here’s where I tried attacking from this other angle and died, and here’s my story where I finally won and that’s the one that really matters, but all the other ones are in there somewhere…”
In Beyond here, we don’t have to make that little mental skip over all the times in the story when we died, we just…survived all the things that happened to us, and that’s why we’re here now. Just like in any real story of anyone who survived some things and is here now.
Again, I’m totally fine with the dying in games, I don’t know if I’d want to make every game one in which you somehow just survive everything — how would that even work in games with a lot of combat? I think it really would take away a lot of tension, which in a shorter game like this can be made up with atmosphere and so forth, but also there are a lot of sequences with no risk of death to contend with at all. Still, leaving it out is also an interesting choice that I’m kind of enjoying.
So, yeah. That’s what I’ve been thinking.
Really? Hmm. Now I feel silly for feeling such urgency.
Did you still get to go on the motorcycle? I liked that bit.
That makes sense, point X to point Y. But I feel that, like LiS, eventually some of these differences will have some effect on the story as a whole. Maybe not in “Ok, you’re getting a whole different chapter” kind of way, but something. Or else, what’s the point of some degree of choice?
Maybe things like getting arrested won’t matter if you just escape, but I have a feeling that my decision to fuck with those kids at the party will lead to some small difference to your story, as they likely have a different opinion of you as you didn’t do that.
But who knows? I noticed that “only” 98% of players “wreaked havoc in the town.” That…seemed kind of unavoidable. What did the other two percent do?
True, Dawkins couldn’t die out of time. But you raise an interesting point: Why not have death/fail points and respawns? We’ve played a ton of games where you have a timed thing to do a thing (like, say, protect another character) and, if you don’t, boom. Reload. There wouldn’t have been anything that would have prevented that. Sure, you can’t say “And she really died here and all those other things in the future never really happened jokes on you and credits,” but games have fail points. Players die. Etc. That’s what save points are for.
But wait, that works ‘better’ narratively speaking in a traditional sense (you don’t read the same chapter nine different ways in a book before proceeding), but do you read narrative in games that way? I always just assume that the fail points never happened. They’re there (or the possibility of them are there) to raise tension and, therefore, maintain some degree of immersion. You don’t WANT to fail! You don’t WANT to die! So you get that adrenaline rush that we get playing games.
It bugged me that, even for a moment, that I had this thought that “Whatever…no matter what I do I’m not going to fail and go back to a save point” because I relaxed. I started toodling around, looking for dots. I should have kept feeling “OMGOMG SAVE JODY!” because that’s more immersive.
And I don’t really count those in the narrative. There aren’t a thousand OTHER Uncharted stories where Nathan died. All that dying stuff is just an artificial mechanic. Right?
No doubt that something that’s frustrating and takes days breaks the narrative flow. You know how I feel about impossible end bosses fucking up the climax of a story. That I give you.
Interesting you say “games with a lot of combat.” Cuz a game that we keep comparing this to is LiS, which, sure, you couldn’t die or fail, but it had no combat. It was JUST a game with a seamless story. And I sort of expected this to be as well, for that very reason: having a bunch of deaths would break the narrative. I was very surprised when, there I was, learning to shoot. I did feel like “Wait…punching? Shooting? In this?”
This chapter WAS a lot of combat, and that moment where I realized that maybe I couldn’t fail DID take away a lot of the tension.
So maybe the question isn’t “Why doesn’t this game let you die?” but “Why did this game put in so much traditional gamey shit where the risk of dying adds tension?” Cuz just saying “Ok, no punching, no shooting in the traditional sense” ends the debate on whether you should be able to fail.
Oh and you never told me if you felt the same way killing as Aiden/killing as possessed dudes. Curious on that.
It’s a really good question, why have all the combat moments if you’re not doing a combat-focused game? I’ve found that to be one of the things that I’m not sure about with this game…the parts that are a sort of stealth/combat/assassination game fit oddly with the parts that are a thoughtful narrative game about drawing pictures of your ghost-soul and doing QTE math or whatever.
How successfully do those different parts fit together?
I think it might be tied into the “Two Souls” in the title, that there’s intentionally this split between the focus of the chapters, and maybe it’s meant to be about how even action heroes have ordinary aspects to their lives as well, and even ordinary people can potentially get into situations of high drama…probably not being hunted on trains for high treason, but any of us could be in a car accident or have a tree fall on our house or something that would be a crisis event for us.
So, Jodie is an ordinary person (as we know from having been a kid with her) but she’s also not (as we known from having been Aiden with her as a kid), and she has ordinary-person problems as well as high-drama-action-movie problems, and that’s all part of her two lives and arises directly from her two souls, or whatever.
So I think it’s intentional, and I guess I think it’s not unsuccessful, although the sense of disorientation is sometimes distracting.
“Wait, I was just planning this quiet evening at home, and now I’m sneaking around murdering dudes, and these are two very different game priorities!”
As for Aiden killing people, like the possessing part, I didn’t figure that out until later (or…chronologically earlier…but never mind), so I did not deal with any sense of guilt about that in the forest section. When I did figure it out (it’s sort of purposefully introduced, like the possession, for those of us who missed it earlier), I felt kind of weird about it, but not weirder than Aiden making possessed people kill each other and themselves. It feels like the same level of responsibility for me, I guess. Both things are definitely Aiden’s work, and I feel they’re equally on my hands.
I’m early into the whole combat bits, but so far I’m a bit jarred. I mean, I like both. The thoughtful parts are good thoughtful parts, and last night was good (as was the tutorial level) as a chase/fight/defend level. BUUUUUT I’m with you: not sure what they’re doing in the same game. Yet. I did notice the next bit I’m a kid again, so I guess there won’t be QTE motorcycle chases. I’ll see how I feel after the switch back.
Hey no spoilers! Treason? What? La la la.
HER two souls? That would imply that Aiden is also “hers,” or “her.” I’m not so sure.
But yes, I guess it is too early to assume the “two souls” are Jody and Aiden, which is what I was doing. You’d think I’d learn not to assume meanings of titles by now.
See, for some reason I did feel different. When I was a possessed dude, sure. Pow pow pow. But AS Aiden it gave me pause. Not sure why. You didn’t feel that way?
I swear there was a point in the train sequence where the cops are coming through showing Jodie’s picture and they say “this woman is wanted for high treason.” I remember specifically the “high treason” part, like, this is SERIOUS treason, not just casual everyday treason.
Or else I was imagining it, in which case, forget the treason, I probably made it all up.
I dunno, man…I didn’t really feel different about Aiden’s techniques for killing people, anymore than I feel different about killing Kevins with a sniper rifle vs. snapping their necks with my bare hands. I mean, yeah, different method for sure, one’s a little more personal, but the result is the same and the responsibility is the same. It’s not as if Aiden’s not the murderer when he makes some guy’s own hands shoot the gun.
I did wonder if maybe the different colors of people’s auras, aside from being a tool to let you know when you can possess or kill someone, are supposed to signify some significant weakness of character, like maybe we can somehow blame those particular guys for being vulnerable to possession or ghost-choking while their companions are not, and thus perhaps feel slightly less guilty (“it’s his own fault! He was having evil thoughts that allowed me to possess him, and if he’d been of nobler character I wouldn’t have done it!”) without actually being any less guilty, but I must say that so far the game itself has not said anything to support this, so it’s probably just my own interpretation.
Oh, maybe. I remember the picture, but I booked it out of there quick. Like “Wake up, oh shit, bye.” Didn’t hear much chatter.
I hope it someday does say something about that, because I’ve been wondering why I can do some people but not others. It would be handy to do others! But, I think, it’s just a limitation of gameplay. There’s lots of things it games it would be great to do, but we’d need a PS8 to do them. This might be one of those.
But speaking of possessing, I noticed something else last night that ties into the dying thing: Aiden seems to be unable to die. I possessed a guy, shot a dude, then GOT SHOT DEAD and Aiden just poofed out and went about his business. So there’s that. I was worried all “Shit, back to the save point oh wait I’m ok.”
Dude, Aiden’s a bodiless spirit. How’s he going to die? I’m only concerned about him if someone shows up with one of those machines from Ghost Busters.
Those just trapped ghosts. We’re cool.
Oh, and I forgot to note earlier when you were all “I wonder what the 2% of people who didn’t wreak havoc on the town did”…
Um…we crashed the motorcycle and got caught and never made it into town? I never even SAW the town.
I have a lot of ‘undiscovered paths’ in my storyline.
Uh….we’ve been talking about wreaking havoc on the town all day….crashing helicopters, killing Kevins…..
YOU were talking about that. I was talking about running around in the forest and fighting people on the road and on the train.
I told you my version of Aiden didn’t kill anyone in this part…perhaps because we were never in that big fight.
We were only in smaller fights. Crashing helicopters and so forth?–that’s all you. I got distracted by the other topics of conversation (the consequences of choice and so forth) and neglected to clarify that I hadn’t actually done that part.
Sorry. But it didn’t seem relevant to the larger discussion!
Whelp, so much for arriving in the same place no matter what the choices.
If you got caught we did not end up in the same place. Not even close. I did not get caught. I killed the shit out of everyone except the SWAT dude from the prologue. As he was crawling away, hurt, I went up to him and said “If you come after me again, I’ll kill everyone.”
Which kinda set up the prologue, there.
And then I strode out of the town, which was on fire cuz of the crashed helicopter and the gas station I blew up very much NOT caught.
So I guess you don’t end up in the same places.
So much for the earlier discussion.
And, I guess, you DID fail. MY town fight was Jody running as the soon to be dead swat Kevins closed in, then Aiden pulled open some doors, she went in someplace and barricaded herself in, and then it was a “protect the person” deal where you had to kill all the Kevins and crash the copter before they got in. She was all “They’re getting closer! They’re gonna come in!” which is what I thought was timed, and what I was wondering about re “was it timed.”
So you DID fail. I didn’t, which now makes me wonder even more if I could have.
No, dude, that’s the thing: we DID end up in the same place, and I thought “oh, well, same ending then” before I proceeded with my thoughts.
Because I got caught, and then I had a scene where I escaped (which you presumably did not have), crashed a car, told a surviving dude that I’d kill everyone if they came after me again, and strode off.
Getting caught kept me from wreaking havoc in the town, but it didn’t keep me from winding up at the same place you wound up, i.e., striding off into the future, free and alone (except for Aiden).
As for my having failed…I guess? It’s arguable that I failed a possibly-timed mission to protect anybody, because I was never in a position where I was supposed to do it, but sure…I didn’t in fact do it, so yeah. I guess.
So that’s what I meant, with all that “many different paths to the same end, many choices that don’t affect where you end up.”
We took different routes to get there, but we both got to point Y.
WHICH surviving dude? Surviving dude implies other dudes did NOT survive. And I didn’t actually kill anyone (I’m assuming we don’t knee Kevin in the groin enough to kill him) until I got to town.
That’s so WEIRD.
Well, the path you didn’t take was “wreak havoc in town” and…what…something else. I forget what. Something a lot of people did.
You’re not very good at this game, are you? Divinity made you soft.
So you didn’t learn Aiden could kill in this chapter then, either, cuz the first time I saw red auras was in town.
Never mind, then. I thought your getting caught was some sort of failure, but I guess not.
We shall see if this matters later on. That and the party.
The surviving dude who emerged from the crashed car. I don’t know if the other dude in the car was dead, actually, they might have both survived, but I only talked to one of them.
I’m not very good at this game? Ouch, man. That’s harsh.
Perhaps true, but still. Harsh.
Though it raises another interesting question: do we assume that the things more people did are the “right” or “best” things to do? Certainly we can read a level of judgement into it when it’s something like arrested on the train vs. not arrested on the train, because we WANT to not get arrested. If most people didn’t and I did, yeah, we can be judgy and say I suck at this.
But where’s the shame in being among the 2% who managed to NOT wreck a town?
I avoided causing a lot of property damage! Many people’s lives are a lot easier because I didn’t destroy their streets and buildings! Why should I feel bad about that?
And this question is kind of a joke, because it is obviously self-serving, but also, it’s a legitimate question if we’re going to talk about the kind of character we want to play, the moral choices we would make, etc. This wasn’t the result of a choice I actively made, but if it had been, I would have chosen not to wreck the town (just like I chose not to wreck stuff at the party: I like to keep Aiden a little close to the vest).
So should I feel bad about missing out on a scene where I would have done something I would feel kind of bad about doing? Is discovering every path automatically the best way to go, even if some of them are things I wouldn’t have wanted to do if I’d known what they were in advance?
I don’t know. I don’t know if succeeding (at the immediate goal of not getting caught, or whatever) is necessarily always going to be better than failing. I don’t know if the thing more people do is always going to be the thing I wish I’d done.
So yeah, I’m not very good at this game (certainly not as compared to Divinity, where I was one of a group of unstoppable tanks), but I’m also not sure being good at it is really what it’s about.
Or perhaps I’m just making excuses.
You’re in the TWO PERCENT.
Facts are harsh, man.
Cuz the only way you didn’t do that is by fucking up about 27 QTEs. I didn’t get them all. I got hit, tripped, and bit by a dog, and STILL made it to town.
I did not, however, crash the motorcycle.
Hmm. You are making excuses, but you’re also raising valid points.
And an interesting counterpoint to Divinity. Divinity was a role playing game, and, as Mr. O pointed out, the fact you HAD to do bad to finish the game restricted some of that. This is not a role playing game, and yet, as you say, we’re being given more latitude to be as good or bad as we want. While this was not a choice, certainly “Revenge/leave” was, and one that one could objectively say was “good/bad.”
It IS interesting that this chapter didn’t give you an active choice. If you crashed, you didn’t kill everyone. If you didn’t, then you did. Once you were in town, there was no way to proceed that wasn’t wreaking havoc and killing. You couldn’t, at that point, say, run away or hijack another car or whatever. Once you “succeeded” at the motorcycle chase, that was it. Kill.
Self-serving excuses and valid points: not necessarily exclusive categories!
I think actually the thing that kept me from getting to town was just the motorcycle crash. I missed the “protect me Aiden!” shield while racing the motorcycle toward the SWAT team (what was that again? left and I held right, or something?), they knocked the motorcycle down and that’s what got me caught.
Getting arrested, bitten by dogs, whatever, that was irrelevant to the confrontation at the bridge. You don’t have to mess up 27 QTEs, you only have to mess up the one that matters.
Lessons for life, man.
Oooo! I think I came close there! That was a toughie.
But I did it.
You did it! And you wound up having to kill a bunch of people.
Success at a tough challenge, and the reward is lots of destruction and murder. I mean, I think I probably also left a couple of dead guys in my wake, but only a couple.
Lessons for life, man.
I’m honestly not sure what the lesson is, but something. “You never know what you’re going to get” maybe.
Thanks, Forrest Gump! Bah, I had no patience for that movie.
I did kill a bunch of dudes, I did. But they were trying to kill me. So there’s that.
Oh yeah, I’m not questioning your actions. You did what you had to do.
It’s the circumstances that put you in the position of having to do it that are to blame. And you got there by doing well.
Virtue may be its own reward, but virtuosity will be rewarded by waves of dudes trying to kill you.
You may, however, question my actions at the party. I chose to do that.
What’s funny is that I’m under the impression that Aiden is…maybe not evil per se, but not very nice. And I have no real reason to think that. Jody was the one who told him to take revenge. I was the one that chose to mess things up in the experiment. There really isn’t anything that Aiden HAD to do that Jody didn’t tell him to do.
Yes, he killed some dudes, but at Jody’s request.
And yet I still have this reaction that Jody is the good guy and Aiden isn’t. But when you look closer, that’s not really true.
This game is playing with assumptions a lot.
That’s definitely another interesting question!
Because yeah, there’s that impression of Aiden as at least mischievous and somewhat destructive, and of Jodie as being sort of the innocent person who’s stuck with this entity, and yet…whenever he’s causing real damage, it’s because she asks him to.
We, as him, chose to knock some extra stuff around in the experiment, we could choose to knock things around on the train (I actually didn’t mess with anyone’s stuff there, until I needed to wake Jodie, so I was being polite), so that kind of small stuff is certainly on Aiden, but when he’s possessing people and killing them, it’s because she asks him to.
So, speaking of responsibility, who’s really responsible for the bad stuff he does? Even beyond whether it feels different to possess someone and have them shoot themselves, than it does to just choke them to death…what about how it feels to be the person who asked the spirit to do that?
And yeah, who’s the nice one and who’s the mean one, here?
And where do we, the players figure in?
This game has some good stuff. I’m impressed.
I did mess with stuff on the train, and it was totally benign. Like, rustling someone’s newspaper. Shaking someone’s water. One guy, you nudge him and he doesn’t even wake up. Like, people barely noticed the stuff he was doing. It was like he was bored more than anything. Forget evil: it wasn’t even that annoying.
It does have some very nice thought-provoking aspects. And the gameplay is entertaining too…even when I’m faintly mocking it (“ooh, another gripping interlude of getting through a doorway one foot at a time!”) I mainly enjoy it.
Well worth the nothing we spent on it, that’s for sure.