The Top 10 Most Disappointing Video Games of 2013

08. Beyond Two Souls

The second video game walkthrough and guide that I wrote for SuperCheats was for a game called Heavy Rain. Developed by a studio called Quantic Dreams as a PlayStation 3 platform exclusive, Heavy Rain was not just a great game as a WTG Project, it was a great game period.

Very easy to get immersed in, very difficult to stop playing, and so complex that players really needed that WTG. When I later reviewed the game for another website, fresh off of having played and written the WTG, you probably will not be shocked to learn it scored a solid 9 out of 10.

News that Quantic Dreams was about to launch a new game called Beyond Two Souls, and the favorable comparisons to Heavy Rain that were being bandied about, well, let's just say that games that qualify as interactive fiction are not that common. In fact very few have ever been made so it is safe to say I had high expectations for it.

When it finally arrived it turned out to be an amazing experience -- its cutting-edge development tech made a convincing and immersive game, the dev team had carefully and successfully put together an astounding and phenomenal cast, and that cast did an amazing and convincing job in their voice acting.

Like Heavy Rain the use of facial expressions and the emotional hints in tone and inflection added the sort of stage presence not often found in video games but critically necessary for video games that move in the realm of interactive fiction.

It is fair to say that for a second time the folks at Quantic managed to accomplish what other games failed at - using the best parts of a motion-picture style take on games and making it sing! If you are curious about games that have attempted that and failed I simply whisper the words 'L.A. Noire' to you discretely and without casting aspersions.

If the game was that good, you are probably thinking, then why is it on a list of the top ten disappointing games of 2013? Thanks for asking that because I am dying to tell you!

The thing for BTS is that for what they did right -- and they did a lot right -- it suffers from a handful of very disappointing elements that modify it for the worse.

Like Heavy Rain the game has you making decisions, but unlike with Heavy Rain the decisions you make in BTS have very little impact in terms of consequences. I say this sadly. In Heavy Rain when you made the wrong decision or a bad one, if you did not end up dead you still had to live with the consequences of whatever choice you made. Not so in BTS.

Where Heavy Rain was built around a cohesive and deep story, it seems like much of the plot development and background story were left on the cutting room floor with BTS -- in fact that has to be so because the different 'levels' often abruptly shift in focus, so that the information being communicated often feels as if it were more of a non-sequitur than any planned continuance of the story.

The illusion of free will that was present in Heavy Rain is not present here, and the presence of the narrator here feels like a sentence being passed rather than the infinite possibilities that it might have offered.

Heavy Rain was a lot like real life in that sometimes the smallest of actions or events could turn out to be significant evidence or clues, whereas with Beyond Two Souls the feeling -- and fact -- that you are on a rail with about as much free will as you find in an old Choose Your Own Adventure book of the sort popular with teens in the 1970s overwhelms you.

Far from the anticipated deeper levels of immersion one expects to encounter in this genre and sort of game, you instead find that by the time you reach the point in the game where everything is coming together you end up wondering when it will be over?

Posted: 26th May 2014 by CMBF
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