There is a secret honor roll of games that those of us who consider ourselves “core” gamers feel are necessary experiences. We hold the entries inscribed upon this list dear and criticize anyone who missed even a single entry, cursing them as the gap between critical and financial success. But, back in reality, sometimes these games just get swept under the rug and other times they just didn’t get the right marketing. With downloadable gaming now prominent on all consoles, it is nice to see some of these classic titles making resurgence, and none are more exciting than Beyond Good and Evil HD from Ubisoft. Considered by some as the Holy Grail of underappreciated classics, this adventure game is finally getting a chance to shine, once again.
Trying to explain to someone why BG&E is such a memorable experience is complicated. You play as Jade, a regular girl with green lipstick and a knack for photography. Early in the game, you are tasked with exposing the truth behind the war with the help of your swine companion Pey’j. Like I said, it can be hard to convince someone that this is a gripping narrative but, once you get sucked in, you become invested in every single character. The game reminds me of a really great animated movie. Jade is easily one of, if not the, best female protagonists in gaming history.
The story is certainly more than worth the price of admission, but one thing that has always made this game special in gamers’ minds is the actual gameplay. It is hard to break down exactly what type of game BG&E is. You have adventure, light platforming, races, combat, photo taking and plenty of puzzles. The game molds its gameplay around the situation instead of vice versa. This creates a cohesive experience that truly engages the player in the world of Hillys.
There is also a ton of stuff to explore and collect. Jade earns credits for her pictures she takes, as well as some enemies she defeats. Funds can be used to purchase pearls and health items. Pearls can also be collected and used to upgrade your hovercraft. There are also Mdisks all throughout the world containing more snippets of the story as you go along. There is a rich history to what is going on, and the game allows you to experience as much or as little as you want through exploration.
With HD following the main title, it is no secret that Ubisoft has made some upgrades to the original. The game is now in full widescreen and all the textures have been given a nice HD makeover. The game holds up surprisingly well after all these years. Character animations are impressive and, like I said earlier, the models will give you the impression of a solid animated movie. The world of Hillys is definitely unique and traversing it in your hovercraft lets you take it in at your leisure. This game has aged well and looks like you remember it, which is usually the case with HD remakes.
Now, not all was bright and sunny in my playthrough. First off, the camera controls took me some time to get used to. You can only invert them both together and not independently. What this means is if you prefer the up/down one way and left right the opposite, you will likely have to adjust to one or the other. That is a nitpick, if I am being honest, but I also ran into more than one occasion where Pey’j would get glitched in the environment, impeding my progress. This is annoying as the game has few checkpoints and most of the time reverts back to the last save game. These are minor issues, but still worth noting.
As far as extras, there isn’t much to talk about here. There are now leaderboards and, of course, Achievements, plus the aforementioned visual upgrade. Still, this is one game that is criminally overlooked, so just getting a second chance to shine is reward enough. If you have never played the game, you should not hesitate picking up this remake. Even if you have played it before, you will be amazed how good it still is. It is a wonderful trip down memory lane. Here is to hoping we get to finally see the sequel we have been waiting for all these years.
Review copy provided by publisher.