Beyond Good & Evil is an open-world action-adventure game by Ubisoft. It was released back in 2003. But if you haven't played it yet, you're still not late. In fact, it's the best time to jump into the game since the sequel is on it's way.
Beyond Good & Evil is set in a futuristic world and mainly takes place on an alien planet called "Hillys". It serves as the home to a wide variety of species, including you. And you know what, Hillys is a beautifully designed work of art. Yep, art. No matter where you go in the planet, the caves, heavily fortified enemy strongholds and even the pedestrian district, it is an absolute delight to take a break and stare at the simple yet beautiful scenery. (But you can't do that in every gameplay situation, obviously)
And the best part is that the environments feel amazingly alive. I mean, it's really one of the most alive game worlds I've ever experienced, if not the most alive. Life has been created with such detail that one must experience it himself to understand what I'm talking about.
And this is where the game makes its smartest move. It puts you in the roll of a reporter/photographer. One of your main goals in the game is to capture every living specie on the planet in your film. Although it may later on feel like just a side quest. But the time you'll spend searching for new species to capture in the beginning of the game will make you curious about how many more unique creatures are there. And believe me, this curiosity will never die. You'll want to find and click more and more species. And so, in the search you'll keep exploring various corners of the game world. Uh huh... beautiful game world. Plus, you can converse with anyone (who can speak, of course) in the game. Creating an extraordinary illusion of realism. Although, it would've been much better if the side conversations had real voice instead of just text. I would still say, this is brilliant and creative game designing. Blending the gameplay with game world so wonderfully is just amazing.
Our protagonist is a very likeable young girl, named "Jade". She becomes a reporter and/or photographer due to some major issues. She joined the IRIS Network (the rebel group) and as she kept revealing more and more of the government's conspiracy, she slowly becomes the main reporter of the IRIS Network. She has a backstory but I'm not gonna reveal that here. Only know that she lives in a lighthouse on a small island with a number of rescued children and her "uncle", Pey'j.
Jade wields a Daï-Jo, a disc thrower and a camera. The Daï-Jo is your main combat weapon, while the disc thrower stays useful for out-of-reach targets. The combat mechanics are extremely simple. You only keep clicking the left mouse button to chain up combos of Daï-Jo strikes. If done with proper timing, the combos will be more effective. But there is no defense system, only a dodge/evade system. You can dodge enemy attacks by simply clicking the right mouse button. But it requires good timing, so it will take a little time to master. And the disc thrower is a very simplistic version of a gun. It's not really a gun but it kinda works like that. While using it, the camera will switch to first-person and then you'll need to aim and fire. So, it works like a gun. And the camera, is (obviously) used to take pictures of living beings, things necessary for your reports and anything else you like. To take a picture of a living being or report subject you'll need to properly frame the subject with appropriate zooming, this can be just a little bit bothering when trying to click fast animals.
The enemies you face in the game doesn't vary much and so may feel repetitive at first. But just about time when you think you have had enough of these kind of enemies, the game throws something very interesting at you. The boss fights are parts of these very interesting things. Each boss battle has been designed completely differently from each other. But they all have one thing in common, they are all awesome.
One more thing you'll use in the game is stealth. Shadows are your friend. It is always better to sneak past a bunch of armed enemies, than facing them head-on. But if you think that you don't need stealth and can handle all of them in direct fights; well, then think again. Because there are certain portions in the game where it forces you to resort to stealth. Then you have no other options than either taking out each enemy one by one or sneaking past them.
Another gameplay element that demands mentioning are the chases. You'll encounter various chase scenes in the game. Sometimes you may chase some pirate vehicle and sometimes you may be chased by a whole army of enemy forces! Be it on foot or in vehicles... believe me, the chase scenes are brilliant; probably my favourite parts of the game.
The pause menu of the game is confusing at first. It took me a little while to figure out how it works. This could be frustrating for those who don't want to break the gameplay pace.
But the map interface is very user-friendly. It features a column of floors at the right side of the screen and their respective maps in the middle of the screen. For example, if you want to see the map of the second floor of the building you're in, you just need to select the desired floor number (2 in this case) and the map of that floor will appear automatically. By default it only shows your position and objectives but it can be upgraded to show special locations.
To upgrade anything, you'll need to spend money. There are two different types of currency in the game, 1) Units, 2) Pearls. Units can be earned by mainly taking pictures of various beings and Pearls can be earned by mainly defeating bosses and looting enemies. But there are other ways to earn Units and Pearls, which are more fun to discover yourself. Smart cash management is required in the early stages of the game, else you may think you're stuck due to low amount of wealth.
The last but not the least, is the soundtrack. This game features an excellent and original soundtrack, composed by Christophe Héral. The musics help to create the atmosphere more immersive and the chases more intense. But I personally felt the boss battles make the most profit out of the soundtrack. Anyway, the songs are good to listen to even if you're not in the game.
- Unique style of graphics
- Finely done art direction
- Good characters
- Great story
- Fluid gameplay
- Memorable soundtrack
- Interesting mini-games
- Short game
- Complex pause UI
- Lack of audio in side conversations
Finally, I can definitely say that Beyond Good & Evil is a brilliant game. It easily met my expectations and went even beyond them. It's a must-play, 10/10 game.