a portfolio of videogame writings
Nearly 10 years old and yet to receive its much deserved sequel, Beyond Good and Evil is well known as one of those ‘critical darling, commercial flop’ games. It’s not surprising when you consider some of the themes that creator Michel Ancel attempted to tackle underneath its semi-cartoon exterior: Government conspiracies, military dictatorships and a strong, well developed female protagonist were the basis for this adventure around the futuristic, European flavoured land of Hyllis.
Jade is an investigative reporter and martial arts expert who runs an orphanage and happens to get caught up in the resistance movement against government corruption whilst taking a job cataloguing the species of Hyllis. Ancel’s weaving of narrative and gameplay expressed itself in this photography element of the game – taking pictures of Hillys’ native species was an unusually placid and yet challenging side mission, and photographing evidence to expose conspiracies formed a major part of progression.
Beyond Good & Evil provided a videogame universe with the expansive open world freedom of a Zelda title, some uncommonly sophisticated thematic subjects (for 2003) and all the quirky comedic nuances you would expect from the creator of the Rayman series; provided by your bumbling, well-meaning pig uncle Pey’J, and the rastafarian walrus garage mechanics.
So go now, check out the re-mastered version released on XBLA and PSN. And pester Ubisoft for the sequel to what was, back in 2003, one of gaming’s most progressive and underappreciated titles.