Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition Review – Required Gaming for All

Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition Review

It’s been just over twenty years since the adventure game Beyond Good & Evil first graced our screens. It originally launched in 2003, so technically, they could have called this the 21st Anniversary Edition – but for marketing purposes, 20th just sounds better.

I first played Beyond Good & Evil not long after it was released on Nintendo GameCube. While some of my memories of that experience have been lost to time, the feeling I had when playing it has never left. Beyond Good & Evil was, and still is, a brilliant game, and well deserving of it’s cult classic status.

An evil group called the DomZ are threatening the world of Hillys. You play as Jade, a photojournalist who has been caring for children orphaned by the DomZ with your uncle Pey’j. The world is protected by the Alpha Sections, but this doesn’t stop the DomZ from launching attacks. During one of these attacks, Jade is thrust into the fight. Along her adventure, she is recruited by Iris, an underground group who believe there is something more sinister happening. You’ll need to uncover the dark secrets, photograph key conspiracies, and shine a light on the truth.

Combat and More

Beyond Good & Evil has a nice variety of gameplay styles spread throughout the game. When you first start of the game, you’ll be introduced to combat, with Jade utilizing her Daï-Jo – a staff-like weapon. Soon after, other elements come into play, such as photography and platforming. You’ll be able to pilot a vehicle in the game, giving you access to the various levels spread throughout the open-world. Of course, you won’t be able to access every area immediately – you’ll need to follow the mission structure pretty closely, but there are a few opportunities to explore.

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Within missions, you’ll spend a good chunk of time utilizing stealth to complete objectives. You can attack enemies head-on, but, even with a companion, you’ll find they’re just too overpowered – so navigating by means of stealth is usually the best option. Stealth works quite well – crouching from point-to-point, staying out of the line-of-sight of the Alpha Section guards. Each section feels a bit like a puzzle to be completed, which makes completing each section so satisfying.

While the game does an okay job at providing players with in-game instructions, there were a few tidbits that weren’t immediately obvious to me until far later into my adventure. For example, pressing down on the D-Pad brings up the character screen. Within that screen, I had no idea I could actually select each characters in-game “backpack”, allowing me to share items between them. Turns out, I was hogging the power-ups that increase character health.

Treats for Returning Fans

The 20th Anniversary Edition brings a wealth of improvements that should make most fans happy. Visually, the game is relatively unchanged, just higher resolutions and everything looks smooth & sharp. The soundtrack received a huge upgrade, with over 15 pieces of music re-recorded with a live orchestra. Another huge improvement is the inclusion of autosaves. No longer will you need to use an in-game MDisk to save at specific points – the game will autosave quite frequently.

But wait, there’s more! For those looking for a challenge, a new Speedrun Mode has been included that will keep track of just how long it takes for you to complete the game in one sitting. This mode does not allow for saves, so you better have snacks readily available.

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And another addition worth mentioning is the incredible collection of images and videos from the Ubisoft vault showing the development of Beyond Good & Evil. This includes everything from conceptual work to cut content. It’s an absolute treasure trove of information.

Please Wait

Despite how amazing Beyond Good & Evil is – both the original, and this 20th Anniversary Edition – it’s not without it’s issues. The first thing you’ll notice when loading the game for the first time is the excessively long load time between the health & safety warning and the game’s title screen. It’s damn near close to a minute wait! Fortunately, with Quick Resume, you might not experience this too often. This new edition still has load times between areas – but they’re pretty quick and barely impact flow too much.

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Like most games of the era, you’ll often have to fight with unruly camera angles – and these don’t seem to have been improved much with this edition. And probably the most bizarre issue was when the game would completely freeze for anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds. This happened a few times and caused me to wonder if I would need to quit to the dashboard and restart the game – only for the game to start chugging along again.

Stupid AI

In terms of the actual game, there were only a handful of moments that made me shake my head in disbelieve, particularly during the last hour of the game. The companion AI is often quite dumb and will block your path or get in the way of your attacks. During one sequence, my companions and I had to run past an active cannon firing lasers. One companion just stopped and stood in one place. I had to run back past the shooting lasers, bump into him, just to trigger his running sequence again.

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The final boss of the game is also as frustrating as ever – I must have blocked out memories of it from my previous playthrough 20 years ago. Once you figure out how to beat the final boss, you should be good, but there is zero indication on how to actually do this correctly. It just makes the final bit of the game more of an annoyance than a satisfying conclusion.

Could We See A Sequel Finally?

It’s been 20 years since Beyond Good & Evil was originally released. Of course, that means that it’s been 20 very long years without the much anticipated sequel. Despite a number of announcements over the past decade or so, we’re still in the dark as to when Beyond Good & Evil 2 will even be released. Fortunately, it does appear that Ubisoft is still plugging away at the sequel and it will see the light of day at some point. Included in Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition is a brand new quest that ties this game to the eventual sequel, which will actually be a prequel. The new quest isn’t much more than another fetch quest – but it’s still a worthwhile scavenger hunt just to get a taste of what to expect in the new game, and I’m grateful Ubisoft took the effort to include it.

Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition is the absolute best way to replay a cult classic of a game. It still retains the look and feel of the original, while providing some much needed improvements like resolution, frame rate, controls and more. Hopefully this edition will create a new generation of fans. It truly is a must-play game.

Finish that sequel, Ubisoft!

***Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition Xbox Series X key provided by the publisher.***

The Good

  • Best way to replay the iconic cult classic game
  • New content connected to the sequel
  • New Achievements
  • Massive collection of development material

The Bad

  • Janky companion AI can be frustrating
  • Lengthy initial load time
  • Last hour has some annoying bits
  • Sequel still has no release date