November 11, 2013

Beyond: Two Souls

Lasting First Impressions

Quantic Dream isn’t in the video gaming industry to make great video games. They’re in it to make the best of interactive movies.  Since Heavy Rain hit the PS3 and simply blew everyone away with it’s hyper realistic characters models and incredibly engaging story, Quantic Dream looks to push the boundaries of interactive fiction to new levels with their latest title, Beyond: Two Souls.  They continue to innovate and prove that the PlayStation ecosystem can give us more than just the next great game, Beyond: Two Souls was marketed not just as a new game, but as a movie featuring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.  If this is what they can deliver on the PS3 at the end of this generation, I can only imagine what they will accomplish on the PS4.

Beyond Screen (3)

Beyond: Two Souls tells the powerful and emotional story of Jodie Holmes, a woman who is both blessed and cursed to be tied to an extraordinary entity with supernatural powers.  Players will follow Jodie through 15 years of her life and every action taken by the player will determine the course of Jodie’s life.  Like Heavy Rain before it, the main action in Beyond: Two Souls is controlled through a series of quick time actions, which, as the game progresses, becomes something of a second nature.  At first the controls seem a little foreign and this is only because this is not your typical video game.  Once the controls of both Ellen and her symbiotic entity have been introduced, they quickly become easy to grasp.  The first few chapters in Beyond: Two Souls jump around this 15 year timeline if Jodie’s life and are designed to introduce players to all the different controls that will be needed throughout the rest of the game.  Once each chapter is done, however, a timeline is filled in during loading screens so players can see when the completed chapter took place.  This jumping around the timeline also introduces the mystery that will drive us to keep playing in order find out what happened and how Jodie got to where she is.

Beyond Screen (12)

It probably goes without saying that Beyond: Two Souls is one of the best and most gorgeous games I have ever seen. Ever. The technology that Quantic Dream has used to create this interactive movie is beyond anything I have ever experienced.  There was a time when I reminisced about what it would be like to play a game that looked like an actual cartoon.  Well, this is like playing a real live action movie.  Choices come into play similar to how Telltale Games implemented choice in The Walking Dead last year.  Conversation choices are displayed on screen with each of the face buttons used to indicate the players’ choice.  The scene is then played out with those choices.  How some of these choices will affect the story later on is yet unseen, but I can imagine some being very crucial.  Early in the story, Jodie is at a teenager’s birthday party where players are given the choice to reveal her powers or not.  At another point players are given the choice of walking away from a situation or exacting revenge.  Each of the given choices are polar opposites and I can imagine them coming into player later in the story.  They also give players a reason to play through the story again while making different choices to experience another version of Jodie’s life.

Beyond: Two Souls is not a game and players shouldn’t go into it expecting it to be one, per se.  It is truly an epic interactive movie in which the player is allowed to guide Jodie’s path through an epic action adventure, supernatural thriller, and gut-wrenching drama.  This story will take players from heart-pounding action to emotional drama in the blink of an eye without losing a beat.  Beyond: Two Souls is like taking the lead role in a Hollywood movie and making it your own. Quantic Dream has once again pushed the boundaries of what we should expect from truly interactive fiction and I sincerely look forward to their efforts in the next generation.

Quantic Dream, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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