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Beyond: Two Souls

Correcting Heavy Rain's Character Flaws

Heavy Rain offered a great deal to players looking for a deep tale of love and loss. The narrative was well-woven, moments of tension were masterfully orchestrated, and player agency was so thorough that any two people might have had completely different character interactions and dialog opportunities.

The title did have its detractors, though according to director David Cage, 75% of players that started Heavy Rain reached its conclusion (compared to a 20% average completion rate across the industry, according to him). One of the biggest barriers to enjoyment was the largely stilted acting, especially as it often failed to pair well with character movements.

After seeing a 35 minute screening of Beyond: Two Souls at the Tribeca Film Festival, it was clear that something had changed. The acting is worlds better than that of Heavy Rain. Ellen Page (Juno, Inception), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Boondock Saints), and Kadeem Hardison (A Different World, Cult) are all seasoned actors that deliver compelling, believable performances. But that isn't all.

During a panel discussion moderated by journalist Harold Goldberg that took place after the screening, Cage connected the dots. The technique for capturing performances has taken a leap forward. In past Quantic Dream titles, voice acting was handled traditionally, in a sound booth. From there, recorded lines were played while actor performances were captured. This two-step process caused a loss of authenticity.

Now, Quantic Dream has figured out how to combine performance and voice capture, preserving the minute body language that cannot be faked or forced. Shown side-by-side, a video of Ellen Page performing and the digitized imprint of her character Jodie Holmes are stunningly close. However, the result is not perfect. 

It's clear that there is still room to improve. The digitization process captures much more of the actors' performances than ever before, but the parallel view revealed that there is still a bit lost in translation. The "old man head" that Cage showed off during the PlayStation 4 reveal might have seemed odd, but after seeing Beyond in action, I have no doubt that Quantic Dream will put the increased power to good use for the PlayStation 4 game they're rumored to be working on.

Heavy Rain wasn't a game for everyone, and Beyond: Two Souls won't be either. However, if your reason for putting the Origami Killer's tale down was the acting, you have no reason to fear Quantic Dream's upcoming cinematic wonder.

Beyond: Two Souls arrives exclusively on PlayStation 3 on October 8, 2013. Over the coming days, we'll have more on Beyond: Two Souls, including an interview with David Cage on Beyond: Two Souls as it relates to his controversial talk at DICE this year.

If you missed the livestream of the screening, we have been informed that you'll have another chance to see it when it's made available on YouTube shortly. The PlayStation Blog also indicates that last night's proceedings might be included on the game disc as a special feature.

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  • What a short sighted article relating to all of David Cage's professing how deep Heavy Rain was.  What purpose is there to discuss 'flaws' when he was so involved with the human experience with Heavy Rain.  He made similar accusations against Indigo Prophecy.  Does this narcissist not realize that with the internet, you can look up past discussions, reviews and interviews?  I'm calling BS on this guy.

  • Mod

    Looks really good. I'm definitely looking forward to this.

  • Great to see he's adding more polygons


    Seriously though, this game is looking promising.

  • I agree with Cage. This is the direction games as a medium are going to take with regards to story telling.

  • I agree with Cage. This is the direction games as a medium are going to take with regards to story telling.

  • Game of the year!  This will be an awesome game and I can't wait to play it.

  • I knew Ellen Page was in it, but Willem Dafoe too? OMG OMG OMG, I am so ready for this game, lets go David Cage!

  • this looks amazing

  • "The narrative was well-woven" did you even play the game? the amount of gigantic plotholes, leaps in logic, and plain lazy writing to justify plot development was jaw-dropping. Sadly, giving players that amount of freedom didn't help either, as you could constantly go against characters' motivations. There should have been many road splitting decisions, but making the entire game like that completely distrupted the narrative. Even if they had included some of the content that got taken out to fix some of the problems, it wouldn't have made much of a difference.

    It's an entertaining game, as long as you don't really think about the plot and characters while playing it. That doesn't really speaks well of the title that was supposed to be the "game changer" in terms of storytelling in videogames. I'm still hoping Two Sould will be an improvement, hopefully finally delivering on the promises of David Cage, but I'm not holding my breath.