Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition review – not much beyond the original

Beyond Good & Evil holds up
Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition
Beyond Good & Evil: 20th Anniversary Edition / Ubisoft

If you are younger than 30 you probably don’t remember Beyond Good & Evil. But for us over 30 it’s solidified in our minds as the game that people used to parade around when people complained that all gaming protagonists are white men. But Beyond Good & Evil is so much more than a game with a racially ambiguous woman in the lead; it’s a nostalgic trip into a time when Ubisoft still had original ideas and was open to exploring them. Beyond Good & Evil is more than 20 years old, and it’s still considered part of Ubisoft’s heyday. We know this because Ubisoft announces a sequel is in the works every few years since it was first revealed in 2008.

Beyond Good & Evil follows the story of Jade, a young photographer whose skills see her recruited by an underground organization. She lives in a world that is run by a corrupt government suspected of heinous crimes, and she takes part in investigative journalism, photographing the crime scenes and releasing them to the population. It blends together a number of genres. One moment you’ll be photographing the local wildlife, the next you’ll be racing in your hovercraft for cash, and then you’ll be using stealth to infiltrate shadowy headquarters. It does all of this and still makes it feel cohesive.

Beyond Good & Evil screenshot
Beyond Good & Evil / Ubisoft

If I had reviewed the game back in 2003, I would have agreed with all of the critics who were raining Beyond Good & Evil with praise. It has a fun soundtrack, a varied selection of gameplay styles, and unique and interesting characters. In 2003, Beyond Good & Evil innovated in a way few games did. It felt fresh and exciting. But it’s not 2003 anymore, and a number of games have now used and improved on Beyond Good & Evil’s formula. The real question is: does Beyond Good & Evil hold up today?

Ubisoft has remastered the game and the graphics definitely look crisper than the original release. There are some issues such as the opacity of smoke and holographic effects, but overall it’s well done. On top of the fixes Ubisoft has made, the original game’s art style stands up. It doesn’t look modern, but the cartoonish characters certainly look better than games that aimed for realism at the time, and shots of the world from above are still beautiful. Other aspects are still timeless. The photography gameplay and journalism storyline are still unique ideas, and the world-building is excellent.

Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil / Ubisoft

That doesn’t mean that everything has aged well. One aspect that feels dated is the combat. Some of the planet’s wildlife is hostile, and you’ll have to smack them to death to get through the levels. There are some combos, but all fights can be completed by mashing the attack button and moving the left stick towards the enemy. You can dodge, but it’s a pretty wimpy sidestep that rarely does the job. It’s serviceable, but it’s far from satisfying. You’ll see this throughout the different gameplay styles. There are some interesting puzzles involving stealth, but these all amount to sneaking past the enemy when they aren’t looking. You can hit foes in the back to distract them, but this usually ends in you being caught. The simplicity of the stealth would be serviceable, but it can drag when you do these sections multiple times in a row.

The progression system is based around Pearls, a kind of currency you need to unlock upgrades for your vehicles that let you explore new areas. These are usually earned through side quests such as races, taking a certain number of photos, extra sneaking missions, and by figuring out complex world-based puzzles. These are some of the best parts of the game but are bogged down by the lack of selection. There are 88 Pearls, and you’ll need 71 of these to finish the game. This means there is very little wiggle room in terms of which side quests you complete, and you’ll find yourself playing mini-games you don’t like, or visiting old areas in order to gain just one extra Pearl. The Pearl collecting is a hard gate on progression, and you will find yourself unable to play the game until you explore the entire map and finish all the hovercraft races.

Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil / Ubisoft

Beyond Good & Evil holds up. It’s still an enjoyable adventure that will fill you with nostalgia for the 3D character platformers of the PlayStation 2 era. My only hesitation is that I wish Ubisoft had upgraded the more dated aspects rather than just including cosmetics – that I initially wasted money on believing them to be upgrades – only to create more hype for the sequel that is somehow still in development. It’s great that people will get to experience Beyond Good & Evil for the first time. They’ll just have to understand it in the context of the era it was created for.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PS5

Georgina Young


Georgina Young is a Gaming Writer for GLHF. They have been writing about video games for around 10 years and are seen as one of the leading experts on the PlayStation Vita. They are also a part of the Pokémon community, involved in speedrunning, challenge runs, and the competitive scene. Aside from English, they also speak and translate from Japanese, German and French. Their favorite games are Pokémon Heart Gold, Majora’s Mask, Shovel Knight, Virtue’s Last Reward and Streets of Rage. They often write about 2D platformers, JRPGs, visual novels, and Otome. In writing about the PlayStation Vita, they have contributed articles to books about the console including Vita Means Life, and A Handheld History. They have also written for the online publications IGN, TechRadar,, GamesRadar+, NME, Rock Paper Shotgun, GAMINGbible, Pocket Tactics, Metro, and Gayming Magazine. They have written in print for Switch Player Magazine, and PLAY Magazine. Previously a News Writer at GamesRadar, NME and GAMINGbible, they currently write on behalf of GLHF for The Sun, USA Today FTW, and Sports Illustrated. You can find their previous work by visiting Georgina Young’s MuckRack profile. Email: