Welcome, everyone, to another edition of Our Favorite Characters. This is the series where we break down why certain video game characters are so special. We’ve already taken a look at Joel from The Last of Us and Nero from Devil May Cry, but in this entry, I’ll be discussing why Jodie from Beyond: Two Souls is so dang special. From the same development studio that brought us Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, Quantic Dream had a huge task ahead of them with Beyond.
Sadly, Beyond failed to make as big of a splash as Heavy Rain, and many critics flat-out disliked it. But many of the criticisms seem unjust, as Beyond offers a wide variety of settings, gameplay styles, and characters. It’s the characters that make this game so great—particularly its protagonist, Jodie Holmes.
When discussing the reasons why Jodie is such a special character, I will be spoiling Beyond: Two Souls. If you haven’t played it, beware.
Throughout your journey with Jodie, you will find that she’s particularly relatable. There are many instances of her coming across as human, despite her “supernatural” abilities. What’s cool about Beyond is that you get to experience many aspects of Jodie’s life, from childhood to her sassy teen years. You even follow her into adulthood. Throughout this time, Jodie goes through some changes, as one does, but it’s really interesting to spend so much time with her and see it all play out.
There’s an instance of Jodie going to a birthday party as a young teen, and you get to watch her try to interact with strangers. This section is uncomfortable, yet familiar on so many levels. Since it’s a Quantic Dream game, you have the option to make different choices, and there are various interactions you can take part in while at the party. While there, Jodie brings the birthday girl a book of poems as a gift, which everyone makes fun of Jodie for. In that moment, she tries to defend the gift. The way it’s written makes her seem so human and realistic, it’s hard not to root for her. Sure, it’s not likely that you’ve ever encountered someone flat-out making fun of you for a gift you’ve given, but the way she reacts to it is spot-on. Not many video game characters have been written so realistically.
Another memorable moment involves her getting ready for a date with a character named Ryan, and there’s a section in which you can select which outfit to wear. While trying on various outfits, Jodie stares in the mirror and talks to herself. If you try on the sexy dress, she says “Hello, Ryan” in a jokingly seductive way. The fact that she’s so self-aware makes her seem so much more human. It’s as if she’s written for awkward teens or young adults, which makes her more enjoyable to play as. There are numerous instances of this, like when she’s in her intolerable teenage years, picking a fight with her caretakers because they won’t let her go out to a bar, or even watching her interact with her brother, Aiden, whom you discover is the source of her powers.
Jodie feels realistic, unlike so many video game characters that simply are the way they are to move the story along in a brisk way. Sure, Jodie isn’t the only instance of this, but it’s definitely noticeable since you don’t see this level of realism too often.
Part of what makes Beyond so enjoyable is the way it tricks you into into thinking the story will play out a certain way. That’s probably one of the qualifications of good story-telling. As weird things happen, Jodie develops as a character, and that’s made even more effective by the non-linear nature of the story. The crux of the narrative and driving force of Jodie’s motivations involve her thinking she has supernatural powers.
As it turns out, those powers end up being related to her sentient brother, Aiden, whom you can direct and ask to do things. For some of the story, you might think she’s a superhero or something, but once you find out what’s really going on, watching Jodie and Aiden’s dynamic is fascinating. Aiden is tied to her, literally, and cannot drift too far away. Think of it like conjoined twins, but Aiden is an invisible sentient being that can still impact the real world.
For a large portion of Jodie’s life, she’s unsure and scared of who or what Aiden is, so watching her deal with it is engaging. Once it’s discovered that Aiden is a separate being—her brother—you get to see her interact with him in various ways. Sometimes Jodie asks Aiden to do things for her, giving you control of him and allowing you to float around as an invisible being and interact with the world as you see fit. However, since Aiden is a character of his own, there are instances in which the two don’t get along, much like a real brother and sister do. It’s an interesting relationship.
When combined with how relatable Jodie is, these sections play out in such a believable way, despite it leaning into the supernatural realm. All of these things make Jodie such an interesting and lovable character. Even if she does something you don’t necessarily agree with, her motivations are grounded in reality and her actions are understandable, so it’s hard not to like her.
She’s an Absolute Bad-Ass
Despite being such a grounded character, there are sections in which Jodie kicks so much ass. Yes, a lot of that is with the help of Aiden, but she carries herself confidently, making her seem like an action hero at times, which is interesting when compared to the moments when she feels so human. There’s a section that involves you fighting enemies atop a train in the rain and it’s an exhilarating experience.
After working through some button prompts and QTEs, you finally get the enemy to retreat for a moment. It’s at this time that you realize you have to jump from the train, thanks to the clever position of the camera. As you jump from the train, the game slows down, giving you a few moments to take in what you just did. It’s such a cool moment that adds up to a game that many people didn’t give enough credit to.
There are numerous sections that involve playing the game like a third person shooter and it gave me some serious Tomb Raider vibes, which I wasn’t expecting. As Jodie is a trained CIA agent, she knows how to handle combat scenarios and the game is designed in such a way that makes you feel in control. There are even stealth sections that involve picking enemies off, almost like Metal Gear Solid.
One of the coolest moments that make you feel like a badass is when you must defend a homeless man from a group of bullies. Seeing as how they don’t know Jodie is a trained professional, they pick a fight with her, too. But they quickly get shut down thanks to Jodie’s skills.
It’s easy to go on and on about why Jodie is such a complicated and special character. One thing’s for sure: she doesn’t get the love she deserves. Beyond: Two Souls has a lot going for it, but it’s Jodie that makes this game so fantastic and it’s one that you should try if you like narrative driven adventure games. It’s not often you find a character that is written in such a believable way, while still feeling diverse enough to be interesting for a 10+ hour game. She’s a kind, understandable person that, despite her unusual abilities, still feels just as human as you and I.
Thankfully, Beyond: Two Souls is headed to PC sometime this year, so hopefully it will get more attention that it most certainly deserves. Until then, try it on the PS3 and PS4!