It is no secret that I am incredibly excited to play Beyond: Two Souls. The studio responsible for this upcoming release is Quantic Dream and you may remember a little title they worked on called Heavy Rain. My memories of Heavy Rain are of complete joy. Ever since Heavy Rain’s inception, only a handful of games have gripped me emotionally in such an enthralling way – the latest being The Last of Us. Although completely different games, when you put these two side by side in terms of drama and characterisation you will see what I mean.
When Beyond: Two Souls was announced I knew no matter what, and despite all of the buzz surrounding next gen, that Quantic Dream would deliver something truly unique.
I attended a Lock-In event with the retailer GAME and I managed to get hands on with the full game, not a demo, but the finished article. Whilst I only managed to play a couple of levels, let me tell you my first impressions.
I’ve never been one to demand amazing realistic graphics, in fact I am often blown away by more cartoonish or imaginative artwork, but Beyond: Two Souls looks stunning. Graphically on par, if not at times better than The Last of Us. The attention to detail especially in the facial recognition and motion capture makes this flow almost like a film. With next gen consoles literally around the corner and a huge emphasis being placed on realistic graphics, Beyond: Two Souls would certainly not feel out of place alongside any next gen offering.
The story revolves around Jodie (played by Ellen Page from Juno & X-Men 3), a little girl who is born alongside an invisible entity, named Aiden. This entity is very much an unknown quantity within the game but the entire game appears to focus on this unusual relationship between Jodie and Aiden. You get a sense Jodie resents Aiden slightly as she is unable to live a normal life, yet they very much rely on each other. The bond between these two, even in the early stages of the game, feels cemented in contrast with the surrounding characters Jodie encounters.
Whilst the gameplay itself has certain remnants of Heavy Rain, the actions are much more intuitive and natural. Yes at times the game conforms to traditional movement expected from most games these days, but unlike Heavy Rain, which occasionally overcomplicated very simple tasks, Beyond tries to speed past that. But the gameplay invention is still very much at the centre of Beyond. You will not control many games in the same way as Beyond: Two Souls. This is not some generic first person shooter or some high action third person cover shooter. In fact, Beyond is none of those things. The scenario’s and pacing often change and with that the way you control and play as Jodie changes too.
Simple tasks such as opening doors are fully controlled by the fluent motion of the analogue stick. This is also the case with some of the more fast paced action sequences, which will see you hit buttons to a timed sequence as well as using the analogue sticks to swiftly move between oncoming blows – as well as delivering your own.
Players discover that they can switch to Aiden at almost any point in the game. As Aiden you float above the room, flying through walls and by people seemingly unnoticed. With this you can move objects, stealthy enter rooms or choose to possess or kill people. One thing you can’t do is stray too far from Jodie. This is where the real dynamics come into play.
You will often be in scenarios where only Aiden can accomplish the mission but while you have the advantage of being an invisible yet incredibly powerful spirit, you are on a short leash. You must place Jodie carefully within the level and take care not to leave her vulnerable.
So far everything about this game oozes with class. It is delicate yet brutal, emotional yet bewildering, enchanting yet devasting. This is typical, but by no means mundane, of Quantic Dream. Yet I have one fear for this title. With Christmas being about two things for the gaming industry, franchises and next gen, Beyond: Two Souls has a real chance of being overlooked by the masses. Playstation 3 may have a Swan Song on their hands but this should have found its way to PS4. Despite David Cage’s (Creative Director of Beyond and Heavy Rain) opinion that there is a bigger market on the PS3 and that an audience has already been established, sure even Cage can acknowledge that come November the 29th all eyes will be turning to Sony’s highly anticipated PS4 console. Even if only 1.5 – 2 million people across the world own a PS4 at launch, the media attention alone will justify the transfer of making Beyond a PS4 title. Coupled with the fact that at launches people are usually stuck with a handful of titles to play, most PS4 owners might actually get around to playing Beyond: Two Souls.
I have no doubt critically this game will be honoured and I believe Beyond will develop a cult following, just don’t expect the dizzy heights that Heavy Rain was able to achieve, because at the time Heavy Rain was definitely unique.
We will have a full review of Beyond: Two Souls in the coming weeks so tune back in to Twinstickgaming to keep up with the latest.