The lights are on
There are always games in a console cycle that get overlooked and passed over for the shinier, newer games. They are more often than not shifted to the bargain pins of store shelves and eventually forgotten, destined to be lost in the fold of gaming history. Beyond Good and Evil is one of those games and it shouldn't be. With one of the most inventive premises for a game, a colorful setting, endearing characters and tons of gameplay variety, it is baffling to think that this game got pushed into merely cult hit status. Regardless of whether or not you played this game when it released for the PS2 generation of consoles, this HD remake will be a good investment for anyone that wants a game that has a little more charm and heart in its appeal.
In Beyond Good and Evil, you play as Jade the resident caretaker of an orphanage on the peaceful planet of Hillys alongside her pig humanoid uncle Pey'j. When an alien attack disrupts their home, they set off to find a better way to protect themselves from the reoccurring alien invasions. Their seemingly innocent quest takes an unexpected turn when a underground anti-government group asks for help from the two heroes when they suspect corruption within Hillys' government as the source of the recent alien attacks. From that point on, the game becomes an intriguing and rollicking adventure that has you traveling across this beautiful world to find answers and uncover the deep secrets that lie within.
Jade and her Uncle Pey'j. You will fall in love with these characters within the first 10 minutes of the game.
The world of Hillys is a truly extraordinary place to go around and now it looks better than ever in HD. Smooth frame rates, better textures and eye popping color palettes add some flavor to this nearly ten year old game as you travel to distinct locations going through what are essentially dungeons to unravel the secrets surrounding the plot of the game. It relies on mechanics that have been used in 3D Zelda titles since Ocarina such as solving puzzles and light combat scenarios sprinkled throughout, but it also surprises the player with stealth action, not unlike Splinter Cell, and photography gameplay segments (the only comparison I can really liken it to is Pokemon Snap). The stealth gameplay is streamlined so as not to be cumbersome, but it is during the moments of the game that require you to take pictures that it shows how it is so unlike anything else out on the market even to this day. It is the one aspect of the various gameplay elements that truly stands out from everything else it does. Context sensitive situations have you taking pictures of objects or characters in the world for the purpose of the narrative or to be used as a means to solve puzzles. Fun metagames such as taking pictures of Hillys native creatures for research provide useful bonuses and even necessary additions to the player's arsenal really showcase the inventiveness of the design team's vision and eschews any expectations of what could or couldn't be an entertaining aspect of a video game. I don't think I would have ever guessed to wanting to spend a couple of hours outside of the main game just to take pictures of weird alien creatures. It is just that fun.
If you had told me that taking pictures of things in a video game (that wasn't Pokemon Snap) would be really fun, I would have thought you had gone off the deep end. Now I'm the crazy one telling you, yes it really is that much fun.
All of these things make Beyond Good and Evil an exceptional experience, but it is far from perfect. This is mostly due to the fact that the game shows its age in more ways than one. The camera is touchy and must be babysat constantly to have a good view of things. This can get especially irritating in hoverboat sections when you have to maneuver around enemy attackers while trying to shoot them down and also during a fight with lots of enemies on screen as the camera has a hard time adjusting with an iffy lock-on and tight spaces. The menu's are also unintuitive and troublesome to navigate with a radial system that feels clunky and cluttered.
Despite these grievances, Beyond Good and Evil is a stellar game that combines a fully featured, well-rounded gameplay experience with a heartwarming adventure in an unforgettable and vibrant world unlike anything you've seen before and since it's only about fifteen dollars on most downloadable platforms, you really have no excuse to miss out on this delightful title. If we are lucky, they may finally make a sequel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and so should you. I just want to take more pictures of aliens.
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