Excuse me while I pick up my jaw along with everyone else, because that Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailer was hot. Just take a moment to let it sink in. Go watch it before reading this drivel any further, seriously, go! Alright, back? Now sit down and let’s talk sci-fi. Beyond Good and Evil 2 hasn’t even shown any gameplay yet and it already shows the importance of understanding what sci-fi truly represents. Science fiction isn’t about just aliens, future-tech or “insert generic mega corporation here”. Science fiction is the narrative in which we can explore our own actuality in a way that is fantastical while remaining relevant. Beyond Good and Evil 2 seems to understand this better than most.
Let’s start where there is little light and work are way up. Appropriate, seeing as that’s how the BG&E2 trailer played out. Science fiction/speculative fiction weaves narrative through use of the possible, and the impossible — what cultures are reaching for even when they don’t know it. Approaching BG&E2 as a standalone instead of the sequel everyone has been waiting for will be important for this disconnect, allowing its audience to understand the story it is going to tell. Though not much of that story has been revealed yet, the trailer breakdown (which accompanied the initial trailer) is a helpful starting point for unwrapping this. See reference below:
Upon seeing the trailer, the most immediate thing to stick out was the hybrid-humanoids — obvious crosses between animal DNA spliced with human. Breathing life into not only new being, but unwittingly creating new culture at the same time. It’s reminiscent of sci-fi like Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space, or Sagas creative pair, Brian K Vaughan with Fiona Staple. The stories take place on a grand scale, and the scope is important for the dynamic plays that will take place on this galactic stage. It’s playing into this larger scale that allows us to play out our fears and desires. Beyond Good and Evil 2 packs a punch of classism, sovereignty and taxonomy to match.
The trailer opens immediately with a master and slave dialectic that comes across smoothly from Knox (the monkey-hybrid) and makes the audience aware of the social system in place. Zhou Yuzhu (the pig-hybrid) bares scars, but from what? That’s for him to know. Swindling, Zhou Yuzhu, Knox makes his hilarious escape. The brief moments (quite a few) when Knox does make a face are impactful. By showing Knox playing into his own stereotypes as a “primate” while also actively still embracing who he is. It’s this dynamic of personality that states a clear message.
Upon meeting-up with bike-ready-to-roll, Shani, perspective is injected even further with a dramatic camera sweep placing the focal point immediately on the vastness of it all. Taking in the surroundings a few things garner attention. Holograms glisten and shine, which seem to be floating advertisements seducing any market ready to consume, they are quite the opposite. Every hologram draped down or spinning around a building is of religious context. This is a city built on theocracy that has a militant authority. Quickly becoming apparent, as our heroes out run a police force, only to come head on with a bigger part of that authority. Ending in an astounding escape, Shani and Knox fly off into the sun. A harrowing moment. Also, quite uplifting. This is a pair that knows one another, most likely trusting the other with their life given the chance.
Arriving home, our outlaw friends make their way into the hull of an even larger ship tucked away in vast cavern. It’s a peaceful moment, giving one a feeling of comfort — Knox at the wheel with Shani sound asleep on his shoulder. It’s not hopeful, it’s belonging. If making it home was one thing, stepping onboard is even more apparent with a clear meaning. Arriving at the bridge a warm welcome awaits them where a cast of characters of all stripes can be seen. It ends by zooming even further out, showing what lies just beyond. There is an entire universe to explore, whatever may await one out among the stars, one thing is certain, you’ll have those to back you up.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 looks to be tackling some big ideas, and if it can stick the landing that would be outstanding. It’s showing off a lush vibrant universe, that is dynamic but realistic. It doesn’t go outside it’s bounds of fantastic story-telling but it also doesn’t hold back with undertones and what is the heart of this game. What awaits beyond that horizon, worlds of wonder?