Update: Edge’s retrospective on BG&E is also definitely worth reading.
I just finished the game Beyond Good & Evil, and it was strikingly good. After I’d had time to digest it, a few things stood out in my mind.
First, the story was great. It drew on contemporary themes like terrorism and the media, and the characters were believable and well developed. Moreover, the story had real, compelling emotional content, which I hadn’t seen in a game before. It was well directed, all the way down to the voice acting and cinematography, and the overall experience was surprisingly powerful.
Second, the world was incredibly vibrant. The cities were full of people, the streets and canals buzzed with traffic, and the ocean was teeming with life. I would often see schools of fish and flocks of seagulls while I was sailing, and once a whale breached right next to my boat.
Furthermore, as I progressed through the game, I had a visible impact on the world around me. I’d see news reports, buildings being constructed, and even protests as a result of things I’d done. This added a lot to the suspension of disbelief.
It also helped that the game was just plain fun to play. It was mainly an adventure game, but combined action, strategy, RPG, and even stealth and collecting elements in a very natural, effortless way. The story switched between them as needed, and they never felt bolted on.