Beyond Good and Evil may have come out a console generation ago, but as is often the case with games from the past, its still available to play through the magic of Xbox Live. Hailed as one of those “very good but under appreciated” games that people can’t seem to EVER shut up about (except me, of course. I NEVER do that), I picked up this one to see what it’s deal is. While Beyond Good and Evil is a unique story with a very different way of approaching a problem, you can unfortunately easily peg it as a game of yesteryear. Namely, through the way that the REAL villain of the game, against whom you will struggle endlessly and futilely, is the dreaded camera angle. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Beyond Good and Evil takes place on a planet called Hillys, and the area that we’re shown is a bit on the watery side. The populace is living a somewhat cautious peace, saying as how this intergalactic war against some freaky bug-tentacle monsters called the Domz has finally arrived to the peaceful planet.
On the other side of the conflict is a group of pseudo-government soldiers in breather suits who call themselves the Alpha Sections. They seem to have taken it upon themselves to put an end to the Domz menace across the galaxy. Though it doesn’t seem like the war is going to well, as seen through a thick layer of positive propaganda and false news coverage.
Beyond Good and Evil follows the story of Jade, a young woman who is living in a lighthouse with her boar-faced uncle Pey’j and a slew of orphans of the war against the Domz. Jade is a bit on the sarcastic side, and damn does the girl love the color green. It’s like at some point down the line she realized her name was, actually, Jade, and that this meant she needed to devote every waking moment to the color green. From a green jacket and pants down to green lipstick, for god’s sake, Jake seems really dedicated to the cause of all things verdant.
Pey’j is your standard overprotective family member, and also totally sweet inventor, who serves as Jade’s partner in her travels. After their protective energy shield unfortunately goes down in the middle of an attack by the Domz, Jade and Pey’j repel the invaders and basically protect all the orphans forever. Just after the nick of time, the Alpha Sections arrive to take credit for the stunning victory, and then abscond.
Jade thinks the Alpha Sections are a necessary evil, but Pey’j isn’t so sure they’re not up to no good. Still, he’s even less thrilled when Jade is contacted by a mysterious dude in a limo who wants her to investigate the Domz threat on Hillys, and in particular, the connection of the Alpha Sections to them. Jade wants the war to end, but she’s also a fan of cold hard cash, so off she goes into areas controlled by the Alpha Sections in a desperate attempt to see if their so-called saviors are actually supremely evil dickbags.
There’s a lot to like about Beyond Good and Evil. Jade is armed with a camera and a stick. The camera is her main weapon. With it, she can take conspiracy pictures, pictures of animals for extra cash, and send her findings to news outlets. The stick comes in handy in straight up combat, but Jade’s specialty is stealth. Her interactions with Pey’j are similarly hilarious and touching at times, and Hillys seems like an honest to god planet in its own right. There’s a lot to do, from races, tracking down looters, playing pallet against a bitchin’ shark man, exploring the world, and upgrading your hovercraft, which serves as your main method of transportation.
The downside? While Jade is attempting to unravel a deep conspiracy of a malevolent race of aliens bent on the enslavement or destruction of all peoples, the foe she will be fighting the most is the camera. In a game that requires stealth, it is essential that you can maneuver the camera to be able to see everything that is going on. That’s not the case in Beyond Good and Evil. Sometimes the camera will inexplicably be easy to move. Other times it will twitch back and forth, ultimately coming to rest inside the barrier you’re hiding behind. Sometimes the camera will change as you’re running, temporarily inverting the controls. Sometimes it will give you a top down perspective, which would be okay if it didn’t let you see more than three feet around Jade.
The other downside? The game’s not particularly hard. Everything you have to do is pretty much spelled out for you. All puzzles don’t take much more than a minute or two to figure out. While some of the stealth sections are a bit on the BS side of the scale, what because of the aforementioned camera problems, death only sets you back a few feet so you can try again. Which is fine, the main draw to Beyond Good and Evil is the story and actually getting to the bottom of what the Alpha Sections are up to on Hillys. I’d tell you, but… ITS A MYSTERY.
It’s not a bad game to pick up if you have patience for bad camera angles, and for girls who color coordinate way more than they probably should.