The Storyline Behind Beyond Good and Evil

*Spoilers*

During the game’s tenure as the Vintage Game Club’s focus and playthrough, a lot of the discussion focused on the story and the player’s confusion that came about from it. Indeed it is confusing if you aren’t playing close attention and search out many of the details from conversations. Even then you have to make a number of inferences to get the whole picture.

First of all many people were confused about the supposed mystery in the game. There are two types of mysteries. First there is the puzzle element mystery, generally called the whodunit, and secondly there is the caper, this is generally about how is the hero going to pull this off. Beyond Good and Evil falls into the later category. We know who the bad guys are, if we couldn’t figure it out from the world setup or the propaganda, we are blatantly told by the members of the Iris network. We know the who, we even know the what, when and how. The action of the game revolves around the question “how are we going to prove it?” Everything Jade does is in an effort to answer that question.This leads to the next question that plagued many of the players of the VGC. What does it matter if we can prove the conspiracy? This is where Beyond Good and Evil’s storytelling and polish needed work. If you hunt around you can garner the details that let you infer why, but it is never explicitly explained. To understand why, you have to understand the different groups involved.

Let’s start with the Alpha Sections. This is the military that is stopping the Domz, the unquestionable bad guys of the game. The Alpha Sections work for the Domz or are a supporting arm, we don’t know the specifics, but they pass themselves off as the benevolent protectors of all the planets attacked by the Domz and are touted as especially efficient at combating them. They are an intergalactic group.

Next there is the Iris Network, a group of journalists working to expose the Alpha Sections for what they truly are. Most of the game’s conflict comes from these two groups exchanging propaganda. They are underground, but more well known than a secret terrorist organization or resistance group would seem to be. They are also an intergalactic group.

 

Then there is the Governor and her people. I can only assume given the themes and manner in which she runs the planet, that she is the democratically elected leader of Hillis. She has her own beliefs, but can only act in the people’s will with sufficient evidence. This is where things get confusing for some people. There is also the Hillian Military. They are the sworn defenders of Hillis specifically. They are members of Hillis defending their homes and are in no way associated with the Alpha Section,save one and this is where the confusion comes in. They both wear fully armored suits of very similar style and color. The people in the dungeons are the Alpha Sections; the people in town are the Hillian Military. You just have to talk to them a few times each to see the difference.

Finally there are the people of Hillis, the meandering populace. Understanding the difference between these groups is key. They are not all on the same side. They are not allied to each other. They all move with their own goals, most of which happen to be the same, but there are nuances and it is in these cracks that the conflict springs up.

Much confusion came up about the conspiracies and the necessity of many actions of the groups. I think there was a fundamental misunderstanding by many of the players of what the different groups were trying to accomplish. On the surface their actions are easily understood, but holes appear in their logic if the Iris was just trying to expose the Alpha Sections and were in danger why such a flimsy security system and if they did this elsewhere then why not bring those examples to light and if the Alpha Sections were imposing martial law why couldn’t they find the Iris network?

The truth I think is that none of the groups have the power many of the players thought they had. Every action every group took was in relation to the general populace of Hillis. They have the true power. The Alpha Sections could only continue their secret abductions for the Domz if they the people supported them and believed they were helping in keeping the Domz at bay. You can see early on one of the children tell Jade that he wants to join the Alpha Sections when he grows up because he thinks they are heroes. The people generally believe the propaganda on the radio and the TV. The Iris Network does want to expose the Domz, but more importantly they want to break their Alpha Sections hold on the people. They state in their early briefings that if they can prove a conspiracy then the people will rise up against them.

 

The Alpha Sections have to keep up appearances. Everything they do is out of sight from the everyday populace. Their headquarters in town is closed off. The two chase sequences that I call some of the best in video games end when you make it back to the city proper. They can’t follow you, because they have to keep up appearances and not give anyone any reason to kick them out.

Meanwhile the soldiers you see in the city are not the Alpha Sections, they are the Hillian Military, who Double H is a member of. Talking to them over the course of the game you realize they serve not the government, but adhere to the philosophy that they serve and protect the people. One even says to Jade not to confuse them with the Alpha Sections; they have nothing to do with the war against the Domz.

The Governor, meanwhile, believes what the Iris Network is telling her, especially since she is being stonewalled by the Alpha Sections. However, she cannot simply tell them to leave, though if she did and exercised her power she could get rid of them. The problem is that the people believe in them and it wouldn’t do anybody any good to get rid of the people’s heroes, especially with the Domz attacking every few days. She has to do this intelligently and cautiously, only taking minor steps when she has enough proof so she can back up her actions should she need to. The whole story fits together quite nicely until the third act and it would have worked had they not changed the final strategy of the Domz to: this has been about Jade the whole time. This is where the major plot hole comes in and I have no way to explain it. Destroying the lighthouse and kidnapping the children can be seen as retribution and revenge for messing with much of their operations, but using it as an excuse just to get Jade to come to the moon is just too much. Why would they wait so long if they knew it was her? And why wouldn’t they kidnap her along with the others?

Another plot hole is when the people do rise up and the cavalry comes to the rescue we end up with a situation where the Domz leader is expressing victory by capturing the fleet on the inside of the shield. To me this in no way constitutes victory, especially when all your ships have been destroyed and your space squid ship thing has already been dealt with. All the military would have to do is blow up the station and the shields would come down. So I’m not entirely sure what that piece of dialogue was about, unless Jade has some ultimate power that in the Domz hands would turn the entire situation around.

This is nothing major, just me trying to clear up a few misconceptions about the narrative that came up. Not all of it could be cleared up, but the ending left a lot to be desired in more than one way. The game was rushed at the end of development that makes me think the ending suffered because of it.

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