Video Game Review: Beyond Good & Evil
Since it’s one of our current Let’s Plays, featuring more important Sus Sapiens than Tomba, we have a look at Beyond Good & Evil. Is it any good or is it just another game that gets over hyped due to nostalgia? Timlah investigates the reporter and her epic action adventure.
Let me take you back to the early year of 2003, when video games were certainly getting more complex. A year later, we received Fable, one of the most hyped games for its time. In 2002, Bethesda released the ground-breaking Morrowind. The sense of adventure around games at this time was huge, it was important and it was highly successful: All of the games mentioned thus far, including the titular game, were hugely important to the gaming industry for its time. Yet whilst The Elder Scrolls carries on today, including a massive MMORPG and while Fable has had its fair share of sequels, one has been rumoured, but never actioned upon.
Beyond Good & Evil is somewhat infamous in the gaming industry: It was known for its time to be incredibly hard to run on a PC. I’m not making that up, it really was filled with bugs. It stopped many people playing it, which is a crying shame as I love this game. I’ve decided to look at this with a critical eye, to see if the game is as good as I remember it or if it really is nostalgia that tips its hat towards me. It’s time to take these rosy glasses off and analyse the game, which will be called BGE for the rest of this article!
Following the investigative reporter Jade and her company Jade & Co Reporting, BGE features a story of conspiracy, deception and lies. When resting on her home planet of Hillys at the orphanage she looks after, Jade notices a bunch of aliens coming to attack the planet again. The aliens come for her and she fights back, but only for the waves to get more and more vicious. But when all look bleaks for Jade, her engineer and close friend Pey’j jumps in from above and saves the day!
The two fend off the aliens before backup arrives to help them clear the area. Naturally, Jade finds all of this a little suspicious, but she needs to get herself some cash. Taking up her trusty camera and her stave, she and Pey’j go on an adventure like none other in their world: To find out what’s causing these attacks and to report it all from her own perspective. Foolhardy, but undeniably a brave character.
When you take control of Jade, you left click to swing your stave. If you left click more than once, you go into a combo of sorts, swinging again. Click once more – You get the picture. It’s very simple to swing your stave around and it also auto-targets onto your enemies. The challenge of the game is getting the flow of the combat just right. Whilst it’s easy to hit things, you need to be a bit cerebral about your fighting techniques: Do you fight off one particular enemy first, or do you try to take care of them all at the same time?
When Jade hits enemies with her stave, you get a small time of reprieve from that particular enemy. Whilst you can follow through, if you were to press one of the movement keys and left click, you will strike in that direction instead. This is an important distinction to make, as it brings in an element of tactics that many of these action adventure games seem to forget. You need to focus on what will come for you next: Just because Jade is relatively tough, she’s certainly not invulnerable. When you get the flow of battle wrong, you will know it.
Whilst the combat mechanics are interesting, even more so is the camera. This isn’t the first game to have had a camera mechanic: I mean we had Pokémon Snap back in 1999. However, this was probably the first action game with a camera mechanic built into it, at least for it to be so prevalent in the game. When you take pictures, you send them off which gives you credits in the game (so you can buy things!) Credits are useful in a bunch of scenarios and are basically vital to completing the game.
However, couple this with the fact that your camera can pick up things that generally you would just be looking at, then you realise that you’ve got an incredibly powerful tool. You begin to take pictures of corruption of the world and more around you. Plus, if you want to, you can just take pictures for the sake of it, which is a nice touch. When you point the camera at certain things, they’ll respond: My favourite response is with Pey’j who, if he realises you’re pointing the camera at his face, will wave for you. It’s a sweet touch, especially for a game of its time.
The voice actors are really good for BGE, all of whom fit their characters perfectly. Couple this with the music in game, which is really nicely atmospheric, you’ve got yourself a nice audio accompaniment, but it’s not ground breaking audio by any stretch of the imagination.
From the moment you pick up the stave, you realise that Jade isn’t going to sit back and watch the world around her burn: She wants to take control, she wants to help others and you want her to succeed so badly. You are emotionally invested in the game, wanting to stick it out and see what’s happening to Hillys. You want to take pictures of all of the bad that’s happening around you and you want to get all of the collectibles. It’s addictive in that regard, but yet the story is enough to keep you playing more.
BGE then gets a perfect score from me, even with all of the aforementioned bugs with the game. Yes back in 2003 when computers could barely run it (for some odd reason), with hundreds upon possibly thousands of disappointed people, this would have marked it down. But in this day and age, thanks to websites like GOG and my ability to run GOG games through WINE, I’ve been able to pick the game back up. I’m glad I’ve been able to re-experience this game this year and now that 2016 is here and we’re in full swing on GeekOut, check back next week for episode one of our Let’s Play.
Have you ever played Beyond Good & Evil? What do you remember about the game? Has this review reminded you about the title, or have I omitted some critical elements? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.