Beyond: Two Souls Eyes On

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.)

 
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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.


Beyond: Two Souls
+ A thought provoking story, great graphics, genre bending awesomeness
- I want a turn. I want it now but the game’s still in development
"Stunning graphics, emotions, innovative gameplay, and a deep story."
- Beyond: Two Souls
Follow Own it?

 

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Comments Comments (25)

 
ssjroneel NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by ssjroneel
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:01 PM
1
Why didn't you take me with you???! :(

Very excited for this game:D
 
 
 
haydensomething
Posted by haydensomething
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:03 PM
1
Sounds great!
 
 
 
twisterjamz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by twisterjamz
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:16 PM
3
If it's anywhere as good as Heavy Rain then it's going to be amazing
 
 
 
guido NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by guido
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:29 PM
1
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.
 
 
 
MatEPoon
Posted by MatEPoon
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:37 PM
1
Can't wait for this one. Hopefully it's a little less dependent on the ole QTEs than Heavy Rain was.
 
 
 
dark_hadou1 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by dark_hadou1
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 8:24 AM
2
Next E3 you guys should do a comp for a ticket to E3 and join you!

Haha now that's wishful thinking
 
 
 
fifamessi NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by fifamessi
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 9:39 AM
1
Wow sounds great.

Also, that above comment is right! Next year NZG should try and take a VIP to E3!
 
 
 
mrbenjy
Posted by mrbenjy
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:00 PM
-
i love the well made and complicated zombie games that are coming out nowadays
 
 
 
rocketman12 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by rocketman12
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:31 PM
1
From what I have seen so far this game looks amazing, loved Heavy rain.
 
 
 
tom_nz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by tom_nz
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:58 PM
2
Playable movies are the best kind.
 
 
 
AsianFella
Posted by AsianFella
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 3:04 PM
1
I'm expecting this one to be an epic game. I shall be awaiting this one eagarly
 
 
 
NickJacques
Posted by NickJacques
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 5:29 PM
1
Wow this game as amazing graphics. Lets hope it tops Heavy Rain, that was a great game.
 
 
 
Partos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Partos
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 5:42 PM
1
I wish it was release day. looks brilliant, already have it on preorder
 
 
 
gh567
Posted by gh567
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 6:59 PM
1
I don't know why but I just don't like that girl....
 
 
 
Budinski420
Posted by Budinski420
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 7:58 PM
1
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.
 
 
 
GamerGurl
Posted by GamerGurl
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 10:43 PM
1
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!
 
 
 
GamerGurl
Posted by GamerGurl
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 10:43 PM
1
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!
 
 
 
Buckchoi NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by Buckchoi
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 11:33 PM
1
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.
 
 
 
LoftyDog NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by LoftyDog
On Friday 14 Jun 2013 10:39 AM
1
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
 
 
 
kiwibadboy NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by kiwibadboy
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 9:52 AM
-
Wow can't wait for this one!
 
 
 
nos4r2d2
Posted by nos4r2d2
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 4:16 PM
1
Sad my PS3 has died now that the best games of it's life-cycle are being released.
 
 
 
Tzeit
Posted by Tzeit
On Sunday 23 Jun 2013 2:48 AM
-
Looks pretty good. Usually I'm not fond of RL acting personalities making appearances in-game (Chobot anyone?) but Dafoe has the chops.
 
 
 
nevski11
Posted by nevski11
On Monday 24 Jun 2013 7:49 PM
-
Looking forward to this a lot and don't even need to buy a new console to play it! :)
 
 
 
joshdrought NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by joshdrought
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 6:58 PM
-
just pre ordered the special edition of this game cant wait
 
 
 
joshdrought NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by joshdrought
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 6:59 PM
-
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