Quantic Dream’s latest title, Beyond: Two Souls, is one of the few games that caught people by surprise at this year’s E3. It was quite refreshing to see a game that wasn’t a sequel or a First Person Shooter. Based on what we saw at the Sony Press Conference, Beyond looked incredibly similar to Heavy Rain – the demo had a deliberately slow pacing, one that eventually lead to an unexpected amount of destruction.
It may not have been the best way to showcase the game but it was certainly impressive. And then I had a chance to see Beyond behind closed doors. My mind was blown.
Beyond: Two Souls follows the life of Jodie Holmes over the span of fifteen years – that you’ll already know. The rest, though, might be considered spoilers, our gameplay session showed off some of the game’s key moments. And here’s the first big twist: for some unknown reason, Jodie is able interact with a ghostly entity named Aiden. The demo starts off with Jodie sleeping on a train during a rainy day; she’s a fugitive on the run, but the reasons why were not revealed.
It’s here that the differences between this game and Heavy Rain become quite clear: the player is able to interchangeably take control of both Jodie and Aiden at any point. But first, we had to find a way to wake up Jodie.
As Aiden, you are able to freely roam the environment in first person view without any worry. Using the SIXAXIS, Aiden is able to go through walls and even interact with objects and people in the area. At one point we saw Aiden maliciously throw someone’s drink to the floor and give another passenger cold chills. The only real limitation here is that you’ll lose your connection to Jodie if you go too far off into the distance.[drop]After exploring the outside environment, Aiden notices that the cops have stopped the train. Now you have to find a way to wakeup Jodie before it’s too late. It seems like the player is able to handle this situation in various ways – simply talking to Jodie did nothing more than annoy her. There was also a bottle of water right next to her, which you most likely could have splashed on her face.
During our demonstration, the player dropped Jodie’s bag onto the floor. As Jodie furiously places the bag into the overhead compartment, she notices the cops and tries to escape. She’s immediately spotted and now the player assumes the role of Jodie in an incredibly intense action sequence – it’s here that we see just how much of an evolution this game is when compared to Quantic Dream’s previous efforts.
However, at first glance, the action looked just like anything you would see in Heavy Rain. The button prompts appear in the same fashion and are just as reaction based as before. There’s one big difference though – we were told that the entire scene was interactive. That’s right, you can actually move the player around and make the escape for yourself. The characters in Beyond are not controlled by a cutscene, but the animations are so seemless you can’t even tell unless you were actually playing it for yourself.
Eventually, Jodie locks herself into a bathroom but isn’t strong enough to open the hatch on the roof. She cries out to Aiden and the player is now able to use some supernatural powers to bust through. In this scene, it was painfully obvious what to do. Other scenes though, as we soon saw, actually gave a surprising amount of freedom to the player. As Jodie makes a run for it on the roof of the train, cops are closing in on her from all angles – she’s completely soaked, which was quite impressive and looked far more realistic than anything I’ve ever seen in a video game before.
Jodie gets grabbed by the cops but she’s able to give them a beatdown with some well timed QTEs. She’s actually quite a proficient fighter for some inexplicable reason, but that’s probably explained in the story at some point. Jodie, who is now being protected by Aiden’s blue aura, takes a leap of faith off the train. It seems like the danger was over, but it was only the beginning.