From the makers of Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit comes the latest Cinematic action thriller from Quantic Dream, Beyond: Two Souls.
Beyond: Two Souls follows the story of Jodie Holmes, a young woman who possesses supernatural powers due to her psychic link with a mysterious entity called Aiden. Alone and on the the run Jodie and Aiden must use all of their strength and courage to negotiate the dangerous path ahead of them. With an all star cast featuring Ellen Page and William Dafoe, Beyond: Two Souls looks set to become the next big cinematic gaming blockbuster, but will it live up to the success of its predecessors? We had the chance to try it out.
As with its predecessor Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls combines cinematic on screen action with player interaction to create a unique gameplay experience. Controls are deliberately limited here, consisting of basic character movements with left and right analogue sticks combined with an interaction button. Items available for interaction are labeled with white dots, and after selecting an item to interact with players are able to guide Jodie’s actions towards the item with the right analogue stick. Though the controls are very simple, there are certain differences between Jodie and Aiden’s movements which help to set the two characters apart. Whereas Jodie’s actions feel quite fluid and often involve swiping movements, Aiden’s actions involve holding down several buttons at once and releasing them. This gives Aiden’s movements an element of tension as if energy is being dispersed, which compliments his supernatural nature.
The game allows players to switch between Jodie and Aiden at any time by pressing triangle. As his supernatural powers allow him to travel through walls, playing as Aiden sometimes gives a new perspective on situations. Aiden can often witness scenarios that Jodie herself would never see, and his invisibility lets him scope out danger without putting Jodie at risk. Though the tether between them puts some limitations on Aiden’s movements, it does not stop him from performing supernatural feats such as passing through walls, blasting objects and levitating. He can also choke and possess humans as well as channeling visions. This partnership looks like it is going to be instrumental not only in Jodie’s continued survival, but also in puzzle solving throughout the game.
Though exploration and puzzle solving are key, no action thriller is complete without a large helping of fast paced action. Unlike its predecessor Heavy Rain this game no longer relies on traditional button prompted quick time events during action sequences. Instead fast paced sequences merely slow down in order to allow players time to react. When an action scene momentarily turns to greyscale, players have to react quickly and move the right analogue stick in the correct direction to guide Jodie’s movements. For example, in a fight scene if Jodie gestures to punch to the right, the player must swipe to the right quickly in order to complete the action successfully.
The speed and accuracy of your actions during these greyscale sequences determine the outcomes of these events, and there seems to be not one but several levels of failure and success. For example, if the action is to swipe right to kick someone, yet you mis judge the action and swipe too low, you may still gain ground by throwing your attacker off balance. Fail to react completely however and the outcome of the sequence could be much worse. Though the on screen prompts remain limited for aesthetic reasons, mistakes are highlighted in a subtle cloud of red giving you an indication of your progress. If this title is anything like Heavy Rain, these small successes and failures will lead to larger outcomes, and these in turn will most likely decide the overall outcome of the game.
Overall these swiping motions felt much more intuitive than quick time events, and in turn made the gameplay seem more fluid and natural. With button prompts now taking a back seat, players are left to take in what is happening on screen and react naturally, relying on instinct without guidance. This system also stops button prompts from taking visual preference over the action taking place on screen, leaving the screen free to showcase the cinematic scenes taking place. The game also makes some use of the motion capabilities within the controller to perform other actions such as jumping or shaking free, keeping players very much on their virtual toes.
So far not much has been given away story line wise, however the scene we were shown was filled with action, featuring a daring escape and plenty of hand to hand combat. The use of motion capture and all star cast made the game feel extremely cinematic, and the use of dramatic sound effects created a dynamic atmosphere reminiscent of its predecessor. Jodie’s movements also adapt to the environment around her to provide a more realistic experience, and with motion capture used to full effect it is easy to get sucked in to what is happening on screen.
Overall we were very impressed with what we saw from Beyond: Two Souls. They new action sequences made a nice change from the quick time events and furious button mashing seen previously in Heavy Rain, and the supernatural influence of Aiden creates some interesting possibilities for both storyline and gameplay. Much will be dependant on storyline here, but provided that lives up to what we have seen so far we could be looking at yet another truly great title in the making.
Beyond: Two Souls is set for UK release on 11th October 2013 exclusively for PS3
Sony Entertainment Europe
Until Next Time,