Beyond: Two Souls Eyes On


By: Fiona O'Kane    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 9:25 PM
 
 
 
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I was lucky enough to be given a behind closed doors E3 viewing of Beyond: Two Souls, with David Cage, the creator and writer. Heralded by many in the industry as a genius, his most recent mega success was of course Heavy Rain.

The small room with about twenty members of the international press was in very sharp contrast to many of the other ‘three ring circus’ game events at E3. David talked along with the scene as it unfolded, while one of the developers of the game played through it on a PS3. (Yes, you read that right, not a PS4.)

In his very quiet and genteel French accent David explained that it is actually quite hard for his team to come to E3, where all the big boys are competing to have the loudest biggest explosion on the show floor. Beyond, and Heavy Rain before it, are just not those kind of games – they’re very different. He wanted to explore different themes than those commonly shown in other games, trying to tell a story, and particularly to portray strong emotions. He hastened to stress that while the scene that they demoed for us was probably the most “action-y” scene in the game, the title was most definitely not an action game. He described it as a game about “life, death, growing, being different, and being who you are.”

Before the scene began, David explained that the main character Jodie Holmes is a very special young woman. She has a link with invisible entity, called Aiden (pronounced Eye-den. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to point out that name would be pronounced Ay-den in New Zealand. Maybe next time.).

That aside, Jodie can’t separate from Aiden, who has been there her whole life. She can “switch” to him at any point, and he has special abilities to navigate around the environment invisibly. He can explore areas to check that the way is clear for Jodie, create a shield to protect her from bullets, take possession of people and control them, or even kill them. There is, however, a limit to the distance that he can travel away from Jodie, so he mustn’t stray too far from her.

Throughout the full game we will follow Jodie at various times, between ages 8 and 23, and witness many moments throughout her life. David also pointed out that the story jumps around, not always in chronological order.

The scene we saw showed Jodie at around age 23, having been recruited and trained by the CIA, for her special abilities. Her mission was to make her way into Somalia, to assassinate a leader called Jamaal.

The gameplay appears to be quite unique, as the player follows visual cues from Jodie, assessing the correct direction to move in to complete her movements, using the right analog stick. There are also quicktime events that you respond to. This is a totally new engine from Heavy Rain, and they aimed to really push the envelope, and create a sense of realism. There were lots of things happening around you in terms of secondary action, as Jodie moved through the beautifully rendered environment. Somalia looked bleak, rundown, and the air fairly throbbed with menace, as armed men roamed the streets around her.

Jodie had a small Somalian boy with her, named Salim, who was compelling and likeable from the first moment he appeared. Jodie had rescued him, and the strong emotional bond between them was gentle and touching, even in the violent, unstable and terrifying environment they found themselves in. A very nice effect used was that there were no subtitles provided for Salim, so Jodie spoke to him in English, but didn’t understand him when he replied in Arabic. This decision was consciously made to really focus on the way that they spoke to each other, which really amplifies the emotion between them. David explained that their goal was that you will connect with the character of Jodie deeply, and “will know her by heart”. He wants players to miss her, like a good friend, when you turn your console off.

Additionally Aiden is a character all of his own, rather than a ‘power’ that Jodie has. He has a different logic, because he is a different type of being. The story chronicles the relationship between them, which is mysterious and unusual.

One of the things that really sets this game apart from others is that you can play the story out in multiple ways. Burst your way out of a sticky situation, or rely on stealth to sneak around enemies and avoid a confrontation. Or do any combination of both. Obviously you do still have to complete the basic story as set out in the plot, but the focus is on how you do it.

When we started the session, a couple of people (including your humble reviewer) shifted a little in our seats uncomfortably when we were told that the demo was going to take about 40 minutes. (40 E3 minutes is like four hours elsewhere on Earth after all.) However, I can honestly say that it only felt like about 15 minutes had passed, and I was very disappointed to learn that the time had passed so quickly.

In summary, I liked the graphics (which were stunning, especially the characters faces and eyes), and the emotions conveyed throughout. I think videogames should be able to tell a deeper story than “they killed him because he was a bad guy” with no repercussions or even a second thought afterwards about the choices made. I also liked the innovative gameplay, the switching and relationship with Aiden, and especially the way you can progress through the story the way you want to.

Sign me up now... I can’t wait to see more of Beyond.


At a Glance

Pros: A thought provoking story, great graphics, genre bending awesomeness

Cons: I want a turn. I want it now but the game’s still in development

"Stunning graphics, emotions, innovative gameplay, and a deep story."


 

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Comments (25)

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ssjroneel NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:01 PM Posted by ssjroneel
Why didn't you take me with you???! :(

Very excited for this game:D
 
 
1
 
haydensomething NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:03 PM Posted by haydensomething
Sounds great!
 
 
1
 
twisterjamz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:16 PM Posted by twisterjamz
If it's anywhere as good as Heavy Rain then it's going to be amazing
 
 
3
 
guido NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:29 PM Posted by guido
Heavy Rain was a brilliant game and this looks very promising too. I can't wait to see what they'll achieve with the power of the PS4 to play with? After seeing their tech demo I know it'll be astounding.
 
 
1
 
MatEPoon
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:37 PM Posted by MatEPoon
Can't wait for this one. Hopefully it's a little less dependent on the ole QTEs than Heavy Rain was.
 
 
1
 
dark_hadou1 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 8:24 AM Posted by dark_hadou1
Next E3 you guys should do a comp for a ticket to E3 and join you!

Haha now that's wishful thinking
 
 
2
 
fifamessi NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 9:39 AM Posted by fifamessi
Wow sounds great.

Also, that above comment is right! Next year NZG should try and take a VIP to E3!
 
 
1
 
mrbenjy
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:00 PM Posted by mrbenjy
i love the well made and complicated zombie games that are coming out nowadays
 
 
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rocketman12 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:31 PM Posted by rocketman12
From what I have seen so far this game looks amazing, loved Heavy rain.
 
 
1
 
tom_nz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:58 PM Posted by tom_nz
Playable movies are the best kind.
 
 
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AsianFella
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 3:04 PM Posted by AsianFella
I'm expecting this one to be an epic game. I shall be awaiting this one eagarly
 
 
1
 
NickJacques
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 5:29 PM Posted by NickJacques
Wow this game as amazing graphics. Lets hope it tops Heavy Rain, that was a great game.
 
 
1
 
Partos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 5:42 PM Posted by Partos
I wish it was release day. looks brilliant, already have it on preorder
 
 
1
 
gh567
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 6:59 PM Posted by gh567
I don't know why but I just don't like that girl....
 
 
1
 
Budinski420
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 7:58 PM Posted by Budinski420
This is one of the surprises for me this E3. It looks like compelling gameplay. I like the removal of onscreen prompts in the scripted fight scenes.
 
 
1
 
GamerGurl
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 10:43 PM Posted by GamerGurl
I'm intrigued by teh gameplay as when you're playing you won't know what button to hit as it won't prompt you or anything but I guess that'll just make the game more interesting and definitely more intense!

Looking forward to this game so much!
 
 
1
 
GamerGurl
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 10:43 PM Posted by GamerGurl
I'm intrigued by teh gameplay as when you're playing you won't know what button to hit as it won't prompt you or anything but I guess that'll just make the game more interesting and definitely more intense!

Looking forward to this game so much!
 
 
1
 
Buckchoi NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 11:33 PM Posted by Buckchoi
13 June 2013, 12:00 PM Reply to mrbenjy
i love the well made and complicated zombie games that are coming out nowadays
This isn't a zombie game.
 
 
1
 
LoftyDog NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Friday 14 Jun 2013 10:39 AM Posted by LoftyDog
12 June 2013, 10:16 PM Reply to twisterjamz
If it's anywhere as good as Heavy Rain then it's going to be amazing
true story! loved heavy rain, we need more plot heavy games
 
 
1
 
kiwibadboy NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 9:52 AM Posted by kiwibadboy
Wow can't wait for this one!
 
 
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nos4r2d2
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 4:16 PM Posted by nos4r2d2
Sad my PS3 has died now that the best games of it's life-cycle are being released.
 
 
1
 
Tzeit
On Sunday 23 Jun 2013 2:48 AM Posted by Tzeit
Looks pretty good. Usually I'm not fond of RL acting personalities making appearances in-game (Chobot anyone?) but Dafoe has the chops.
 
 
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nevski11
On Monday 24 Jun 2013 7:49 PM Posted by nevski11
Looking forward to this a lot and don't even need to buy a new console to play it! :)
 
 
0
 
joshdrought NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 6:58 PM Posted by joshdrought
just pre ordered the special edition of this game cant wait
 
 
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joshdrought NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 6:59 PM Posted by joshdrought
12 June 2013, 10:16 PM Reply to twisterjamz
If it's anywhere as good as Heavy Rain then it's going to be amazing
agreed heavy rain needs to be converted into a movie cause it's storyline was that good
 
 
0