Beyond Good and Evil is the best video game I’ve played this year so far.
This is especially impressive given its original release date: two and a half years ago.
BG&E is a third-person sci-fi adventure. You play as Jade, a female photojournalist on the war-torn planet Hyllis. An alien race called the Dom’z (aliens do so love their apostrophies) launches almost daily attacks, kidnapping more and more citizens for purposes unknown. The local army, the Alpha Section, is tasked with the planet’s defense. But something isn’t quite right about their behavior.
Jade’s early missions are simple point and shoot adventures. But not with a gun – your goal is to take pictures of every life form on the planet to aid a science center’s research. This objective continues as a side quest throughout the game. Eventually Jade and her allies get sucked in to a plot of intrigue and deception. She links up with a rebel organization and puts her camera to a new use – exposing the truth. Later missions involve infiltrating enemy bases, snapping evidence of the Truth, and publishing it to the world. Of course there is some martial-arts style fighting involved, but that is really a small percentage of the gameplay. More often than not your objective is to avoid direct confrontation at all costs.
BG&E hits on all four crucial gaming cylinders: Gameplay, Graphics, Characters, and Plot.
Gameplay controls are simple and effective – few buttons are actually used, and they change to the appropriate function given a scene’s situation. The graphics are gorgeous, especially given their age. The game’s visual style is actractively stylized with touches of detailed realism. Talking pig/human hybrids feel right at home. The characters and plot are of the highest grade imaginable! I connected emotionally with Jade and her crew on a level very few games accomplish. While the
ending is left open for a sequel (which unfortunately looks like it won’t ever get made), there’s enough of a finale to still be satisfying.
The attention to immersive detail is really what sells the game. For example, the pictures you snap as Jade are woven into the game’s cinema scenes – used as examples by the characters and broadcast to the public.
I finished BG&E after about fourteen hours of gameplay, spread over a few months, and there’s no extras to motivate me to immediately play it again. For some, this might be too short. But I’ll take fourteen hours of high quality over forty hours of mediocre any day! And really, for the price I paid ($9.99 for a used copy) there’s no reason to complain.
Beyond Good and Evil is an absolute joy to play. If you’re looking for a game with depth beyond blowing up everything in sight, with characters who genuinely develop, and an interesting plot with a few hidden twists, give it a try. It’s the best game nobody has heard of!
(Note: BG&E was released for the Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, and PC. But comparatively few Gamecube copies were made, so that version is much harder to come by and commands a higher resale price.)