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.
I absoulutely can't wait for this game. Seriously, I love Quantic Dream. They're one of two developers that's made a game that was able to make me cry as a result of things that happened in the story: the other is Kojima.
the more I learn about this game the more excited i am. I look gorgeous and it looks like the story will be better than heavy rain. I'm in
While I liked Heavy Rain, it was more of an interactive movie than game, and this looks like more of that similar mechanic. Gotta pass, replayability is zero to me on things like this - once you do it once, having to push 'up, down, left, right' isn't exciting on game 2
This is certainly one of the most promising games coming out (2013 right?). To see Quantic Dream advancing their ideas after Heavy Rain is exciting, and of course their tech, as this is one of the best looking games around, particularly the faces, which beat L.A. Noire's as far as I'm concerned. I'm actually a bit surprised that this is still on PS3, so it really makes me believe David Cage's negative perspective on Motion Scan. :)
This and the last of us. it's a good time to be a PS3 owner. =D
This was def. one of the top games that sparked my interests at E3. Looking forward to knowing much more about this. Great to see new IPs coming to PS3 this time around.
Some parts of Heavy Rain were incredibly intense at times for a LA Noire type detective game completely reliant on contextual controls which people mistakenly compare to the Quick-Time-Events popularized by games like God of War.
I except Beyond Two Souls to be even more intense as the game setting/scenario will call for more action oriented scenarios.
The ~23 minutes gameplay video of Beyond I saw on YouTube reminded me a lot of Geist from Gamecube.
It seems like you won't be able to kill the character like you could in Heavy Rain, which since there is only one this time around makes sense. I just hope there aren't any levels like the Bear.
This is shaping up to be my game of the year 2013! I loved Heavy Rain and was completely wrapped up in it's story when I played it a couple of years ago so I'll be sure to keep my eye out for this gem.
This will blow Heavy Rain out of the water!
The game seems awesome! I gotta get a PS3.....
A very good looking game. I am interested.
I'm sorry but didn't David Cage say that there's too much violence in video-games? Way to be a hypocrite bro because this game seems to have that in spades lol. Anyways aside from that I'll definitely be picking this one up, Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain were awesome games so I'm sure this one will be too!
I thought Quantic Dreams's next game would be another normal game, like Heavy Rain. (Another normal, but great game!!!) I didn't expect superpowers and intense gun fire scenes. But this is still great, nonetheless. I love what I'm seeing in Beyond: Two Souls!
Everthing Ellen Page does is amazing -- Beyond is now my most desired game of 2013.
... I don't get it... ?