Did you buy it yet? It’s still for sale on GOG.com, damn it. It’ll take a little tweaking sure, but well worth it.
I know, I’m supposed to come here and tell you why. So here we go!
Beyond Good and Evil is the story of Jade, a surprisingly deep female protagonist. A reporter, staff fighting expert, and runner of orphanage. She’s deeply and spectacularly human (which isn’t even easy to achieve when almost the only human in a game), takes lots of pictures, shoots discs at bad guys, and has a pretty awesome charged melee ki-smack to beat up alien invaders with.
The game itself is an adventure game with platforming, brawling, stealth, racing, and vehicular combat thrown in, all of them well. Tall order, no doubt, and it wouldn’t have been faulted for missing a beat or two with all that, but it really gets it all right, even the oft-failed stealth sections, thanks to the game’s humane decision to start you right back in the same room you fucked it all up in, meaning even if you have to go with trial and error you don’t have to go very far since most rooms are quite small and only involve one or two stealthy maneuvers to advance to the next one.
Make no mistake-Beyond Good and Evil is not a sandbox game, despite the variety of things to be done. There’s some freedom in when to do what and some optional things, but the affair is driven by the story and character, despite the need to hunt down pearls and other currency for upgrades. At first, players will just see a world invaded by aliens known as the Domz, but just a short way in they’ll discover a massive conspiracy, an underground rebellion, and all sorts of “Holy crap, what?” that I won’t say here to avoid spoilers. It’s a memorable story that’s told very well through excellent characters, and it sticks with you.
The presentation is no small part of it, mind you. BG&E has a crisp, bright color palette, even in the darkest areas, with a gently stylized cast of friends and enemies (okay, not always gently, but it all blends together wonderfully). The visuals never fail to convey genuine feeling, more than location even, and they’re matched by the audio. Great acting combined with great effects and music ties it all together. Players will get lost in the world, with orchestral scores in minor keys exploring caves on foot, fast beats racing a hovercraft, and a reggae groove with the Rastafarian rhinos. That statement is not an exaggeration. There really are Rastafarian rhinos who serve as your black market connection, and you’ll need them to upgrade your ship. The world of Hylis has quite a few interesting species around (which you’re also paid to catalog), and just as many interesting characters.
Beyond Good and Evil is one of those classics like Psychonauts. You didn’t play it, but it’s an all-time classic. The graphics have a few times when they look a little dated due to relatively low polycounts, but the textures and style keep it looking excellent anyway, along with smooth animation. The story is still fresh, and the characters are memorable. It’s one of those games that should have been instantly immortalized but never got the proper support. Fortunately it has a chance to live again now on PC, and hopefully it’ll get the Xbox Originals treatment on Xbox Live Arcade.
BG&E gets 5 out of 5 stars. Occasional frustrating moments, occasional bugs, but the way everything comes together is nothing short of masterpiece. Play it, love it.