Beyond: Two Souls Preview
In our estimation, Heavy Rain is one of the most impressive and important titles of the generation. And developer Quantic Dream has taken it upon themselves to once again take the next step in the realm of interactive drama. What do we call it? Because we're unsure, we're just labeling Beyond: Two Souls as an "Adventure/Drama," even if that isn't 100% accurate. What label would be 100% accurate...?
Anyway, there's no doubt that Beyond turned some heads at Sony's E3 2012 press conference. And here's what we know so far: The main character is Jodie Holmes, a young girl who is, as per the E3 trailer, kinda quiet and perhaps unsurprisingly, awfully deadly. She is accompanied by a spirit partner, known as Aiden or Iden (similarity to Eden coincidental?), which other characters might actually see. The player will follow 15 years of Jodie's life and, presumably, we will continue on into the "beyond" or rather, after her death.
As for gameplay, you can certainly expect a fair amount of QTE (Quick Time Event) action, which has been the staple mechanic for past QD productions, including last generation's Indigo Prophecy. However, David Cage has gone on record saying that different gameplay control and systems should be involved, claiming that "every single moment has almost different gameplay." That ought to be intriguing although admittedly, all we're really seeing from the following E3 footage is a bunch of QTEs mixed in with story progression, just like Heavy Rain.
Not that we're complaining, per se, but we have to wonder what Cage was referring to... Now, the other thing to consider is whether or not the team will give in to the pressure of this generation, and implement some sort of multiplayer function. Personally, I despise the idea, as this form of interactive entertainment is - and should remain - entirely story-driven, and the participator should experience a complete, cohesive story. Besides, we will be given plenty of freedom based on the choices we make, so we should probably expect a lot of possible endings for Beyond. Didn't Heavy Rain have a confirmed 22?
As for what we want, above all else, we want to feel. We want this game to deliver on an emotional level not often (if ever) seen in video games. That's what Heavy Rain managed to do and we anticipate nothing less from the new title. The only lingering concern is that it will play too much like Heavy Rain and as a direct result, the interactive experience will feel like a rehash. ...really can't stand using that awful word in conjunction with anything Quantic Dream produces, but perhaps it's accurate, here. Critics will take Beyond to task if it feels too much like "Heavy Rain 2," and that would be extremely disappointing.
But in the end, video games must continue to advance and progress and it's teams like Quantic Dream that can break down boundaries and barriers. How will they handle the transition between life and death? What might be "death" to Jodie? Are we even interpreting that word correctly? And are we actually going to keep playing after/during death? How drastically will our choices affect the storyline? Will we switch between different characters as we did in Heavy Rain or are we always with Jodie? Many questions; not a lot of answers. But we're plenty patient and you know, the anticipation of something can be better than actually getting it...or so they say.
6/6/2012 Ben Dutka