How a game qualifies for cult status is often not due to any furtive underground movement holding candlelight vigils in honour of their lost totem but down to a series of events that occur at just the right, or wrong, moment.
Michel Ancel’s Beyond Good & Evil is one such game. You may hear people talk about Beyond Good & Evil in hushed almost revered tones. Perhaps you’re even eagerly awaiting its HD remastering due to hit the PSN and Xbox LIVE before the end of the year – especially if you missed it the first time around on the last generation of consoles. And you should be, as it’s a very good game. But the main reason Beyond Good & Evil is held in such esteemed regard is not because it’s the best game ever to grace gaming but because it’s a good game that didn’t sell well.
For the uninitiated, Ubisoft’s 2003 action adventure tale sees protagonist Jade and her anthropomorphic “uncle”, the hog-like Pey’j, team up with a resistance group as they combat an alien invasion and a corrupt political regime complicit in a missing persons scandal. Journalist Jade takes photos of the planet’s rich flora and fauna to exchange for currency, when she’s not bopping adversaries over the head with her Dai-jo bo staff, and attempts to unearth a global conspiracy.
Designer and writer Ancel created a wonderful, vibrant universe with the first Beyond Good & Evil, replete with character and style, enhanced by a story that was immersive, poignant and masterfully crafted. It is deserved of a sequel, if only Ubisoft were sure people would actually buy it this time.
Envisioned as a trilogy, Beyond Good & Evil 2 was revealed at Ubidays in 2008 at the Louvre in Paris. Since then the title has been dogged with rumours of cancellation, uncertainty and a general perception that the game will never see a release. It didn’t help when rumours surfaced in June of this year suggesting that Michel, allegedly stifled in his current role at Ubisoft Montpellier, was leaving the company to work on his own projects elsewhere. Though such hearsay was promptly refuted by the publisher, it added yet more unwelcome doubt on an already troubled project.
On more than one occasion the game has been put on hold, before Ubisoft quickly moved to clarify that it’s impossible to put a game on hold that has yet to be formally announced. There has been some test (and leaked target render) footage, however, just to prove that Ancel and his small close-knit team haven’t spent the last few years playing keepy uppies in the Ubisoft car-park. So, it is confirmed to be in development. Yeah, it’s complicated.
Anticipation for Beyond Good & Evil 2 is mixed among TheSixthAxis. Even those of us who played and enjoyed the first game (like yours truly) are keeping our excitement in check. Yes, that target render footage above looks sublime, but this project has a “never going to happen” smell emanating from it like Pey’j on a spit that is impossible to ignore.
We are looking forward to Beyond Good & Evil 2. Call it our innate defence mechanism kicking in by placing it here in the 70s on this list, however, as a way of protecting ourselves from the very possible disappointment if it doesn’t happen.