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Some video games aim to redefine, taking established concepts and improving them with surgical precision. Others innovate, creating new foundations upon which future experiences will inevitably be built. Then there are games like Beyond Good & Evil, a title that has no interest in reinvention or innovation. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Instead, it cares only about presenting an accessible experience that anyone can enjoy. It’s Beyond Good & Evil’s wonderful mix of varied gameplay mechanics, humorous cast of unique characters, and politically charged narrative that make it one of the best games ever.
Beyond Good & Evil doesn’t waste time with formalities, instead opting to throw you into the thick of things almost immediately. Within a few hours, you’ll experience a taste of the simple but enjoyable combat, the sneaky stealth encounters, the addicting photography segments, and plenty of hovercraft racing on the open waters of planet Hillys.
All of these mechanics are showcased throughout the game’s multiple puzzle-laden dungeons, and even in its small open world. There are a ton of secrets to find in these places, too, namely hidden areas full of pearls, a black market currency that can be used to purchase upgrades for Jade’s hovercraft from Rastafarian rhino-people.
Most importantly, all of these mechanics are well-executed, culminating in a diverse sequence of events that will keep you on your toes throughout. One minute, you’ll be sneaking into an enemy base to gather evidence against Hillys’ corrupt military organization; the next, you’ll be chasing down looters in a high-speed side mission. All of a sudden, you'll be running towards the camera in a daring chase that'll remind you of Uncharted (despite being released four years earlier). Oh, and you’ll also take a lot of pictures of the animal/human hybrid inhabitants of Hillys, and sell said photos to some creepy collector for credits and other surprises.
Each game mechanic is essential a tool for Jade, a journalist tasked with exposing the Alpha Sections--the “protectors” of Hillys--as loyalists to the DomZ, an evil alien race intent on messing things up just for funzies. Every few minutes it'll feel like you're being introduced to a new tool, but none of the game's elements are as useful as the charming and quirky friends you’ll make throughout your journey.
First there’s Pey’j, Jade’s lovable half-pig, half-human uncle, who very obviously cares for his niece. He’s always lending her a helping hand, wielding a wire-cutting wrench, a series of one-liners, and his trademark jet boots fueled by a fart tank he wears on his pants (because why not?).
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