The lights are on
What if you had a paranormal entity attached to you for
practically your entire life? An entity that you didn't have complete control
over and because of that made people perceive you as an experiment instead of
an individual. How would that define your life? Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two
Souls poses the question with protagonist Jodie, voiced and modeled after
actress Ellen Page. Jodie hasn't known a life without her supernatural companion,
Jodie's experience with the paranormal is downright scary,
as Aiden isn't the only thing haunting her. The bigger picture is unclear, and
unfolds alongside her personal and professional struggles. Beyond: Two Souls
opens with Jodie explaining she was born with a strange gift to see what no
person has ever been able to see. However, Jodie is at an impasse; her memories
are mixed up and she needs to put all of them in order to remember her journey.
From this point on, the timeline shifts to different points
in Jodie's life from ages eight to twenty-three. They don't play out
chronologically, but that's a strength, as it feels like you're getting
snapshots of Jodie's life and piecing together the person she's become. The
shuffled memories add intrigue, hooking you to play more. In my demo, I saw
Jodie in her days before she became property of The Department of Paranormal
Activities to her decision to join the CIA and finally becoming a fugitive on
the run from the government.
While the gameplay mimics Heavy Rain's QTEs, the key new
gameplay element is switching between Jodie and Aiden. With a press of
triangle, you take control of Aiden, and with R1, you decide what to interact
with. Different situations use the controls in different ways. In CIA training,
it was about using the right stick to throw punches in either direction,
running to cover points by looking out by holding down a specific button, and
pressing R1 quickly to fire a gun before your chance passed. Some sequences
come down to Aiden and how much chaos you want to cause, with the options to
play tricks on people or decide how long to choke those doing Jodie harm. The
challenge of not letting Aiden's anger get the best of him is constant.
The different memories have plenty of variety. I had
flashbacks that focused on Jodie's emotional struggles as a child, like trying
to fit in at a party with other teenagers. These alternated with high-speed
chases, including evading police dogs through a forest and maneuvering a
motorbike to blow past the cops. In another memory, I entered a research building where vicious entities killed
everyone they could get their hands on. As Jodie slowly walks through the
building, the anxiety of what's in store gets in your head; Jodie finds corpses
along the way and using Aiden, you can see the last moments of their lives,
obliterated by these unseen forces. It adds to the tension, and the memory even
has some unexpected moments that caused me to jump, reminding of a survival
Plenty of sequences have a chance for you to fail, where Jodi
ends up getting caught. Luckily, you have Aiden at your side, who can break you
free. If you are caught, you do miss out on some action sequences. In one train
scene, I got caught by not getting out of a window fast enough, so I was locked
in a train car where I had to outsmart guards to escape. I replayed the same
scenario, and this time got out of the window fast enough, which led to Jodie
being chased by the cops on top of the train.
Beyond is at its best
when it's focusing on Jodie's emotional plight. Ellen Page's natural
performance with the tone of her voice changing depending on the situation enhances
the emotions that Jodie's feeling. Some of the more grounded scenes are hard to
watch, such as seeing Jodie get teased as a young girl, called "monster" and
"witch," and watching her parents, especially her father, abandon her. All the
while, the innocent young girl never asked for any of this. Each time she gets
called a vulgar name, it's striking, even making me feel as if I was the one
being punished. The empathy for Jodie is created perfectly, and the game even
challenges you with how far you'll go for her. In one memory, I had the choice
to take revenge on the teasing kids by using Aiden or I could just walk away.
Either way you play the scene, the pain echoes.
I'll admit I walked into this skeptical. While I adored
Heavy Rain, I had some issues with its plot holes and some of the characters.
However, I came away from the first hours of Beyond: Two Souls much more
positive than I expected. Sometimes the narrative tried to manipulate my
emotions with over-the-top scenes that I found hard to believe, but those were
few and far between. On the other side, sometimes scenes get it so right that
you almost forgive those few blemishes, like if you decide to let teenage Jodie
go in for a kiss. Hopefully, the rest of the tale is as satisfying as these opening
moments, because I can't wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
This looks phenomenal. The soundtrack, story, and hopefully the gameplay are looking to be top notch. Quantic Dream delivered a harrowing tale with Heavy Rain and this looks to be so much better. The only problem I had with Heavy Rain was the large Quick Time Events. I didn't feel as in control as I would have liked. I'll still most likely be picking this up though!
This is my second most anticipated game for the rest of 2013, my top spot going to Batman: Arkham Origins. I can't wait to get my hands on this!
This game can't come soon enough!!!
Hey, that headgear the little girl is wearing looks pretty close to the one that was in the movie "Now you see me." Doesn't it?
I remember people that played the game awhile back had issues with the controls. I hope that still isn't an issue.
I'm really, really looking forward to this game! I just played Heavy Rain last month and had to pull myself away from the console just to take a leak. I've become a huge fan of Quantic Dream and this will be mine next month.
I really think this game is going to do great things, it may even be a surprise GOTY.
Can't wait for this game!
I love how it adapts to how well you do in situations.
I am very hopeful for this. It looks amazing! I really like what I've heard about the plot thus far.
This makes me want to go out and try heavy rain.
David Cage is great at creating compelling game stories, but his weakness is they tend to fall apart at the end, once he reveals his entire hand. I loved both Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit, as it was called everywhere except America), but some moments in Heavy Rain make no sense at all once you know who the killer is, and the ending of Indigo was just bizarre. Really hoping he ditches that tendency this time around.
I may have my doubts about David Cage as a game designer, but I'm more than excited to see how this story turns out. I'll be delighted to cheat on this one and watch it unfold on YouTube as opposed to buying or playing it (yes, you may get out your torches and pitchforks). It sure looks like one doozy of a movie, just not exactly what I'd see as the most successful game.