Have You Played… Beyond Good & Evil?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

We’ve written 175 of these Have You Playeds. When I searched the database to check we’d included Beyond Good & Evil [official site] already, I then searched it twice more in case Google Sheets had lost their minds. Nope, it was us!

It’s important not to let your mind become clouded by the incessant failure by Ancel and Ubisoft to create – nay even commit to – a Beyond Good & Evil 2. Despite teases, concept art, weird not-trailers, and endless bullshit from all involved, let’s just accept it’s never going to happen. Let’s be happy with what we’ve got: one of the finest, most lovely games ever made.

Of course, we’ve also not got the HD remake, via an almighty dick move by Ubisoft to senselessly only release it on console. Thanks guys! But we do have the original, and what a wonderful thing it remains. The tale of photographer Jade, and her third-person action-adventure quest to recover her kidnapped porcine uncle, and save her home from alien tyranny. Packed with smart ideas, lovely characters, and bursting with heart, even our clunky low-def PC port is enough to celebrate. There will never be another one, so let’s celebrate what we already have.

42 Comments

  1. Curled Woofy says:

    I especially loved the photographing of all the animals, really made the world come alive!

    • Kreeth says:

      I loved the photo-taking thing too – a great, interesting way of interacting with the world of the game.

      What a great game it is: haven’t played it since I sold all my physical disks a few years back though. Did they ever fix the problem with the key not dropping down from the overhead box thingy? There was a user-made patch for it at one point, although I only needed it on my 3rd playthrough.

      • jusplathemus says:

        Yes, I believe they did. At least when I played through the GOG version, I didn’t have any problems with it. Also there is a fan-made fix for it that eliminated all my graphical issues.

  2. lowprices says:

    Oh man. I saw the picture of Jade in my Twitter feed, and for s split second I dared to hope that news of a sequel might have arrived. Why must you hurt me like this John?

    • thedosbox says:

      Indeed. BG&E2 (or even the HD remake) would be one of the few games I’d put up with Uplay for.

  3. Kefren says:

    I tried playing this a few weeks ago, but couldn’t get into it. I got as far as investigating a factory. I think it had just introduced sneaking, and I had to avoid guards to rescue my friend, but I just couldn’t bring myself to load it and play again. I often have this problem with games people say are classics but which I play many years after the fact, purely on that recommendation.

    To be fair, it didn’t help that there were graphical glitches all over the place (I was playing the GOG version) even when I put all graphical settings to minimum. It was the final straw that let me say “I’ve given it a shot, now I’m going to play something else.”

    I’m curious – how many people who love this game played it back in the day? Anyone who loves it but only played it for the first time recently?

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I was about to disagree with the notion that this is an old game, but then I realised that I have it on disc. I guess I have to admit that it’s not a new game anymore.

      • amateurviking says:

        I seem to remember owning this on Gamecube. Now I feel old.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Played it about a year ago and liked it a lot. Didn’t have any graphical glitches though.

      • nottorp says:

        Funny enough, I replayed the HD remake on a PS3 recently and while 99.98% of the game was flawless, I played the entire final battle with a black triangle covering about 1/8 of the screen :)
        It was fun trying to find an angle to see enough to fight the boss and survive :)

    • mynicksaretaken says:

      Yes, me! I’m playing it for the first time and I love it. Investigating the second factory right now. Only thing that annoys me a bit at times is the camera switching.

      No graphical glitches though. Only sound is a bit out of sync sometimes.

    • MisterFurious says:

      I played it a year or so ago after hearing that it’s “The Greatest Game Of All Time” for years and I was incredibly disappointed. Beyond disappointed, actually. I was livid that the game was so overrated. The game does have it’s good points. The art design and characters were really good. I did love the idea of playing as a photographer. It also has one of the best soundtracks of any game I’ve played. All that said, the controls and combat were crap and it has one of the worst cameras I’ve ever experienced. This is the Prime Example of Style over Substance. It’s a box of crap with very pretty wrapping paper.

      • apa says:

        I liked it a lot and I agree completely with you. The fights and the controls were terrible – especially the boss fights.

      • Frank says:

        Different strokes for different folks. I really like good characterization and art and music on top of my action adventure and don’t like replaying difficult boss fights, so I rank it close behind Metroid Prime and Zelda 3 within that genre.

      • piedpiper says:

        I played and finished it 4 years ago. And I didn’t like any part of it except for characters and some rare cute moments. One of those games I never understood what was hype about.

      • CMaster says:

        Yeah well, if you were hearing “best game ever” then it was a serious exageration. Somewhere over the last 10 years or so, it’s gone from “unfairly overlooked charming and fun game” to some kind of mythological status it doesn’t deserve. It’s a fun game that leads you on a great adventure with charming characters, it’s a game I really like. But it’s not doing anything overwhelmingly unique, and doesn’t deserve to be a “top 10” or so game, when you look at what else is out there.

    • KenTWOu says:

      IIRC I played it 3 years ago and it was like… Oh, it’s a lovely game, but I can clearly see why this was commercial failure. Had the same feeling playing Enslaved or Remember Me.

      • piedpiper says:

        Funny, all three games your mentioned are boring as hell. Well at least for me.

    • bill says:

      I played it for the first time about 5 years ago (when it was about 7 years old) and I thought it was pretty great.

      The combat was nothing special, but most of the rest of it was pretty good. The characters were nice and original, the world was nice, the photography was great, the level design and stealth/puzzle elements were pretty good.

      Of course, it’s basically Zelda (of the Ocarina of time variety) and the ending goes a bit bat shit insane, but I can’t see anything to dislike about it.

      5 years ago I thought it held up really well… the art style doesn’t really age, the atmosphere held up very well, and it was nice to have a Zelda style game on PC.
      The camera might have been annoying (I don’t remember it being especially bad, but a lot of games from that era had bad cameras.. I think the axes were set up weirdly, but maybe that was fixable in the settings).

      All in all, a lovely game.

      • bill says:

        Oh, I remember now, the only issue was that you couldn’t invert the vertical camera control without also inverting the horizontal camera control. Which was annoying. I think I persevered and got used to it though.

  4. Rikard Peterson says:

    I followed the link to the official site, which advertises the HD version… those characters don’t look like Jade and Pey’j! Is that just the box art or did they mess up that badly? (It’s hard to tell by the screenshots there.)

    Great game. One of my absolute favourites.

    • vincio09 says:

      The game looks pretty much the same except it runs in 16:9 instead of being letterboxed.

  5. somnolentsurfer says:

    It’d be a bit of a stretch to say I played it for the first time recently, but I love it and I first played it several years after release.

  6. Hilloh says:

    Is there actually any meaningful differences between the original pc version and console HD version? I have played both, albeit years apart, but I don’t remember the graphical differences being notable. One would think that the PC version was already more “HD-ey” from the start.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      The PC version was built to run letterboxed on 4:3 monitors, so on modern screens it’s stretched into the wrong aspect ratio, and displayed with black bars top and bottom even though your display’s in widescreen anyway.

  7. karthink says:

    Ah, this game taught me a valuable lesson.

    I played it over a weekend eight or nine years ago, and I had had a lovely time until the very end. It was 11 pm, I had class the next day, and there was only the final boss left. I assumed it would take me ten minutes, so I kept going.

    But that boss fight was extremely tricky. He reversed your controls multiple times, and you were expected to memorize and input the right keys to dodge his attack through all of the reversals. Before long it was 2 am and I was cursing. But against my better judgment, I kept at it until I finally beat it at 6, aching, bleary eyed and in no position to face the day.

    As lovely as the game was, this sore bit is my strongest memory of the game. There wasn’t even a proper denouement; it ended in a rush and with some poorly foreshadowed plot point that suggested they ran out of money or time.

    Oh, the lesson: Screw boss fights. My temperament is not suited to them. Try a couple of times, then just look things up on Youtube.

    • Scurra says:

      Oh, I think the ending is perfectly well foreshadowed, even from the opening scene, which is deliberately understated, although I grant you that the actual reasoning behind the whole thing is not very plausible (!!)
      I agree about the final boss though – it’s a horrible trick to play on you at a point when you know you are near enough the end to want to finish it.

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        It was the Meat Circus from the time from before the Meat Circus. Only easier.

  8. Laurentius says:

    Of course,a couple of times. It’s a great game that I love, I even completed one playthrough with full set of all animals photographed. Great music, still great graphics on PC, one big flaw though I hated it before and it sucks now, stupid console save system at certain places, often a really modd killer.

  9. draglikepull says:

    Beyond Good & Evil is like Ocarina of Time with a good story. Which is to say that it’s an amazing game.

  10. Pazguato says:

    What a great game!

    Loved the BG&E2 teaser trailer of… ¡¿four years ago?!
    Never lose hope.

  11. Jenks says:

    One of my favorite Xbox games. It’s got a cliffhanger ending and we’re two console generations later with no sequel, so in retrospect I wouldn’t recommend it.

  12. Tyrric says:

    Loved the game up until the final boss fight, when apparently all they could come up with was “hey, I know, let’s just screw with the controller setup instead of trying to make the boss interesting!”. Other than that, and the fact there is no sequel yet, it was a great game.

    Heck, at this point I’d be happy if they finished the story in a comic book format.

    • udat says:

      I first played this on PC, and it was one of the first games I used a controller to play. I can’t remember which controller, but I think this was before Xbox controllers would work on a PC so I must have bought some logitech thing or something.

      Anyway, I digress. My point was that the last boss battle was made massively easier if you were using a controller because you could just flip the thing in your hands to get “normal” controls back. Hard to do with a keyboard!

  13. Urthman says:

    I really loved most of the game, but hated the ending (basically all the dumb story stuff about Jade’s identity) so much it kind of ruined the whole thing for me.

  14. rmsgrey says:

    One thing I particularly like about the game is the inclusion of the tracker items that show collectibles on your map – rather than having to scour the entire world to find the 80-something’th pearl, you can buy an item that shows you exactly where to look for it.

    If more games included features like that, GameFAQs would be in serious trouble…

  15. Ragabash says:

    Yes!! It’s my favourite Ubisoft game. I’m not heartbroken over no sequel getting made, but it’s a gem of adventure gaming most people have never touched. It pulls the hard task of making you care about its world, and Jade is one of the great female protagonists out there (the game passes the Bechdel test!). And the chase scenes! :D

    • Merus says:

      I can’t imagine the Ubisoft of today making a Beyond Good & Evil game as delightful as the first – Beyond Good & Evil as Generic Ubisoft Open-World Game Science Fantasy Version would be heartbreaking.

      Honestly, though, the real genius of that game was the photography side-mission. By making every species relevant to gameplay, you spent so much time looking at the world, trying to remember the name of each species. It’s a game that’s full of life precisely because it encourages you to observe it.

  16. cpt_freakout says:

    Hear, hear.

    To all of you who didn’t like it: you’re wrong, and that’s an objective, scientifically-achieved fact of the universe, so important and decisive a fact that it was recently named the 198th law of thermodynamics. Sorry guys, it’s just science. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯