Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Genre Character of the week: Aiden

Over the last week I’ve been working my way through the PS3 game Beyond: Two Souls, wherein you play two characters, a girl named Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page) or an astral being named Aiden (pronounced Eye-den, and not having a physical form, isn’t played by anyone). The game follows the two characters over maybe fifteen years in a non-linear format; wherein the player can choose to play either Jodie or Aiden interchangeably. As I don’t think I’ve ever come across an astral being as a player character in a video game before, I thought it might be neat to look at Aiden as this week’s genre character.

Aiden is never (up to the point in the game I’m at) shown as a complete entity – from the player’s point of view he is a kind of purply-blue cloud of light with a tether attaching him to Jodie – when she is younger the tether is quite short (maybe 10 feet or so) but in the stages where she is an adult Aiden can travel quite far before he hits the end of his tether. When you hit the end of the tether the screen goes dark and the sound goes low, except for Jodie saying something like “Not so far Aiden – it hurts” or the like.

What I really like about the character is that you can play him any way you like – he is not just a manifestation of Jodie’s psychic abilities, he is a person all his own and has the opportunity to act for or against Jodie as he wishes, although most characters in the game assume Aiden’s actions are actually being done by Jodie. This makes for a really interesting dynamic in the game as you can decide scene-by-scene whether you want to be helpful, harmful, or indifferent to Jodie depending on mood (usually I picked helpful, but found I defended Jodie against those who have wronged her much more severely than I would have if I were playing a human character).

Although the game does have some limitations – it’s a narrative rather than a sandbox style game, so you are pretty limited to the plot and don’t have as much option to explore as you do in other games, the graphics and sound are pretty amazing. I can definitely see why they hired known actors for the various parts as the images are much more lifelike than in earlier games I’ve played.

So for the game is definitely worth trying out, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends.

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