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Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition Review

 Beyond Good & Evil is the very definition of the term “cult-classic”. While not exactly a perfect game, the players who took a chance on this late 2003 adventure found its characters and gameplay charming enough to sing its praises… which unfortunately did not translate to sales. However, after several re-releases and a sequel stuck in development hell for at least 16 years (beating out Duke Nukem Forever), we now have Beyond Good & Evil - 20th Anniversary Edition; yet another remaster of this beloved game to celebrate its 20th anniversary, now able to be played in 4k and at a capped 60 FPS. I've never actually played the original Beyond Good & Evil, but I’ve always heard about it and how it deserved more respect. So, when the opportunity to play the game came up (even if I had to do it through Ubisoft Connect), I took it. So… what’s so good about Beyond Good & Evil?

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This is such a 2000's intro...

You play as Jade, a photojournalist on Hillys, a once peaceful mining planet now embroiled in the galactic war. Invaders called the DomZ are going around attacking and kidnapping its people, and the Alpha Section aren’t trying hard enough to stop them (almost as if they’re working together). Jade soon joins the IRIS network, a rebel organisation created to stop the war by exposing Alpha Section and rallying the people against them. However, maybe the truth is more trouble than it's worth pursuing…

I quite liked the writing on display here. It strikes the right balance of heart and comedy with intrigue, seriousness, and sadness throughout mixed in great spectacles for the day. It does hold up to this day, if you don’t mind a few outdated characterisations. You become really enthralled by the world and its story. It’s great to experience for the first time ever and I can see why people want a sequel- erm, prequel as it turns out (it's still being developed, by the way).

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I have never fought so hard in a tutorial in my life. These things kidnapped the orphans, man!

Anyway, let’s get onto the gameplay. Beyond Good & Evil is a third-person action adventure with some inspiration from Zelda with auto-jumping, puzzles, and fights that test your knowledge and skill to win the day. Jade will usually have a partner with her to help her with puzzle-solving and combat. They even have their health bar, which can be upgraded if you share this game’s heart containers, PA-1’s, with them. It is a slightly more annoying task than it should be, but taking care of your allies is important, as without them, you’re not beating the game. They aren’t the smartest and can get in your way though. Still, the banter and dialogue they share with Jade is enjoyable both to read and listen to.

Combat is… well, not great. It feels stiff and even a little awkward as Jade locks onto a random enemy and you flail your staff around, occasionally using a power attack. I mean, it works and you get used to it, but it's not exactly a highlight. However, this isn’t a straight-action game. You’re a photojournalist first and foremost, after all. You’ll need to exercise stealth and avoid being spotted if you want any chance of getting the info you need and getting out in one piece. It can be rather stressful trying to slowly but surely get from one spot to another silently. These sections also last kind of long though for my liking.

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Do photojournalists need bo staff training as well?

Now, this is all fine but damn it, the camera can seriously put a damper on the experience. It feels a little too close and low when you have control, and when you don’t, the fixed camera angles can be a serious hindrance. During stealth sections where knowing patrols and keeping your eye on guards is key, it just sort of hates you sometimes as it gets stuck on objects. Ironically, I found using the in-game camera to take pictures to be rather well done. It feels cool to quickly snap a photo of an enemy before you start bashing them with your fancy combat stick.

You also have a hovercraft to drive, which can be upgraded using Pearls you collect throughout the game. It was actually quite smooth to control even without any upgrades. Plus, funnily enough, you can cheat a little in races by blasting your opponents in front of you. Word of warning though: You’ll need certain upgrades to progress the story, which means you will need 71 out of 88 Pearls if you want to see the ending. I hope you like photographing animals and hunting for collectables! It is made easier with the Pearl and Animal Finder upgrades, so you aren’t totally screwed once you reach that roadblock. If all else fails… find a guide.

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Aw, what the...

Now, onto the most important part of the review: the performance and technical issues. Playing on PC, I ran into no performance issues. No drops, it stayed at 60 FPS with no need to futz with the graphics settings, but there are some stutters that come from the original. Loading screens are pretty quick too. I also didn’t run into any notable glitches apart from some pathfinding issues, however, I have done enough research to learn that there are glitches that can brick your save file. I don’t exactly know if they were patched out, but I’m glad there’s an autosave along with the game’s manual save system, a feature added to this version.

Actually, I should probably mention all the differences with this new edition. Apart from graphical updates and quality-of-life additions (like the ability to skip cutscenes), there are now outfits you can buy to make Jade and her allies a little more stylish. There are also new cutscenes added to the game, but you’ll have to go on a scavenger hunt to unlock. Finally, for veterans, there’s a speedrun mode which adds a timer to your screen that only counts in-game time.

The 20th Anniversary Edition comes with a variety of virtual goodies to go through, such as concept art, trailers, videos, and even cut levels. It's a really nice package for anyone invested in its development history or just for fans of the game. There is plenty to go through in your off-time if you’re tired of playing the game.

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There's so much cool stuff included with the 20th Anniversary Edition. It's great.

As for any issues I ran into other than what came with the game (I think), well… The subtitles can get in the way at times, appearing in the middle of the screen instead of the lower half, which can be distracting since it usually shows the face of who is talking at the time.

I can see why Beyond Good & Evil is so beloved by its fans. Its writing and characters more than make up for its somewhat lacking gameplay, but even then, it’s still pretty damn good. It’s slow and methodical, so it’s probably just being more used to faster-paced games is what is holding me back from fully enjoying this. The camera is still a real issue though. This remaster is great for new fans looking to get into the game, and veterans who want to play their favourite game on modern platforms. Don’t miss your chance to experience this cult-classic… because it already happened once. Just be sure to play with a controller.

Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition is now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via the Ubisoft Store, Steam, and Epic Games Store. You will need Ubisoft Connect for PC, regardless of your chosen store of choice.

8.50/10 8½

Beyond Good & Evil - 20th Anniversary Edition (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Don’t miss out on Beyond Good & Evil. It’s a great game that deserves to be played, and while I do have issues, some of which are not inherent to the game (like requiring Ubisoft Connect), it is well worth the price.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

An Australian-born guy whose trying to show everyone why games are awesome.

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