The lights are on
One of the more significant surprises from Sony at this year's E3 has turned out to be Beyond: Two Souls, the newest game from Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream. Known for its story-driven and visually arresting games, the studio's newest project looks to be continuing the trend.
Beyond: Two Souls is the story of a young woman named Jodie Holmes and a disembodied spirit called Eiden (pronounced "eye-den," but director David Cage refused to confirm spelling), tied together by some mysterious force and on the run because of the strange link between them. The game plays out over 15 full years of Jodie's life, and we'll see the way her strange powers affect her life.
The demo that studio head David Cage revealed opens on a train. Jodie (played by Ellen Page) is an adult by this point in the game, and we find her trying to catch some sleep on the late night trip between stations. The first big surprise is that the player isn't controlling Jodie during this section, but is instead in charge of Eiden. Eiden can move throughout the train car, floating over people's heads, and even zooming through the window to the rain-soaked exterior, but can never go more than a few dozen feet from Jodie. As Eiden moves about, the player can use him to cause some mischief, knocking over a coffee cup or flinging a newspaper out of someone's hands. Most people are confused, since they can't see him. Only Jodie calls him on the nonsense, telling him she needs to sleep; she hasn't closed her eyes in three days.
At a stop up ahead, several police officers board the train. Eiden knows they're here for Jodie; he flings a suitcase down into her lap to wake her up, and the perspective shifts; the player now controls Jodie.
Jodie begins to run away from the cops, passing between train cars. The player has occasional quick time events to open doors or look around for danger, but by and large control remains firmly in the hands of the player. After Jodie is cornered, she locks herself into a bathroom, and Eiden knocks out the roof hatch for her.
The chase that ensues on the roof of the train is visually remarkable. With pine trees rushing by the speeding train and rain whipping about her, Jodie runs and fights her way past more cops. When the situation becomes untenable, she makes a wild leap off the train. She surely would die if not for a protective shield Eiden projects around her.
Down below in the forest, Jodie begins to flee through the darkened trees, police dogs and helicopters on her tail. There's a lot of freedom in where Jodie moves through the area ahead, and different events play out based on where she travels. At one point, several police dogs corner her, and she has to scare them off. Later, she climbs a cliffside and carefully hides on a raised crag as flashlights scan for her from below.
Eventually, Jodie comes up to a road where the police have parked some vehicles, leaving a few officers behind to watch for trouble. Control switches again, and Eiden zooms forward to cause a distraction. When controlling Eiden, players can see the auras of people, and each color aura means something different. When Eiden spies an orange aura on one of the cops, he's able to possess the man, then hop into a nearby police SUV with the unfortunate cop to begin crashing back and forth between the guard rails. As the other cops investigate, Jodie runs to a motorcycle and drives away.
The upcoming sequence has Jodie in full driving control of the cycle as she zooms down the wet streets. A helicopter appears overhead and spies her with its spotlight. Ahead, a SWAT roadblock halts her progress. With no choice, Jodie revs the motorcycle and speeds towards the blockade. Eiden's shield appears again as the SWAT members try to shoot her dead. With bullets bouncing off the invisible shield, she bursts through the road block.
Later, Jodie arrives in a nearby town, and the police corner her yet again on sidewalk. With SWAT moving in, Eiden takes over again, and a brief sandbox-style sequence begins in which the ghostly figures must hold off the attackers. Eiden blasts a car just like he blasted the cup of coffee earlier, and cops go flying. He takes control of a sniper and kills some attackers. Eiden possesses a guard and has him fling a grenade at a gas station, resulting in a devastating explosion. He chokes a cop with a red aura. He shakes apart the wooden supports of a nearby clock tower and it tumbles into the street. Finally, he possesses a helicopter pilot and sends the vehicle hurtling into the street.
With chaos all around, Jodie finally steps out of the movie theater in which she's been hiding, and approaches one of the survivors, warning him that next time, she'll kill everyone.
Beyond: Two Souls is one of the most visually arresting video games we've ever seen in action. The action sequences pop with cinematic flair, and the facial and movement animation is incredibly lifelike. We have yet to see the branching story paths and dialogue system that will also be a big part of the game, but we came away from our time with Beyond with very high hopes.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
DEAR LORD YES
So jealous, game looks great and a nice move for quantic
I have a feeling about this game...it's going to be mind blowing. So far I love the way this looks
I was so impressed with Beyond, especially with Ellen Page! I included it in my E3 report which I just posted @ majamaki.com/.../e3-2012
I am really looking forward to this game. It completely took me by surprise.