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First hands-on: Beyond: Two Souls photo

First hands-on: Beyond: Two Souls

Control system detailed

9:15 AM on 03.21.2013     by Dale North

While a sizable portion of Beyond: Two Souls was shown to press at a event at Quantic Dream this week, unfortunately, it was a hands-off situation. But the studio didn't want to leave us completely empty handed, so they prepared a shorter demo for us to play. It may have not been as deep or involved as the view-only session, but this first hands-on of the game gave us a good taste of what to expect as far as controls go. 

As for the story? Not so much.

Our session took place far enough into the game that Quantic Dream staff members had us playing the first bit of our hands-on session without sound in an effort to avoid spoiling the story. Only when the spoilers were passed were we permitted to hear the audio. This must be an easily spoiled story!

Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: SCEA
Release: October 2013

Starting out, Jodie looked to be returning to a scientific research center just as firefighters and ambulances were wheeling out injured people from the building. It looked as if she was warned not to enter, but she does anyway, moving past debris, injured bodies, and burning walls to go deeper into the building. 

Jodie can be moved with the left analog stick, with the navigation of her world being fully contextual. Simply move her to where you need and she'll step over thresholds, climb over obstacles, and more, each with specific animations. I did this to step over debris, through broken windows, and deeper into dangerous looking territory. 

The world interaction system is completely new, using the right stick to input moves that make sense in given situations. Unlike Heavy Rain, there are no prompts for action with this system. Instead, a simple white dot will show areas of potential interaction. Moving the right stick at this dot in a way that makes sense for a given action, like pushing up to stand, or down to crouch, executes that action. Movements are always based on where Jodie is and what she's able to do in that location. Some situations involve button-press prompts, while others use the SIXAXIS movement sensors to have players moving the controller around.

The first obstacle of the demo that we encountered had Jodie stopped at an elevator door that would not open. She requested that Aiden move ahead to investigate, which had me moving the entity down the elevator shaft to find that the elevator door would not close due to an obstruction. A simple press of the triangle button toggles control between Jodie and Aiden at any time.

Being an invisible entity, Aiden can fly around anywhere. Controlling it in a first-person view, I was able to fly through walls and other matter, straight down into the jammed elevator. Aiden can interact with objects in the world through use of the analog sticks and the R1 button, enabling it to push, throw, and blast objects. I used this ability to push the obstruction away from the door, letting the elevator close to be called up to Jodie. 

The demo featured other situations where I had to use Aiden to do things move through a door to unlock it, or move through a fire to push a fire extinguisher toward Jodie to help her quell flames. Some situations presented the option to use either Jodie or Aiden to proceed. In one room, glass doors prevented Jodie from progressing. The player could either use Aiden's blast ability to bust the glass, or have Jodie pick up a chair to slam it through the glass. 

One of the most interesting team abilities for the duo has Aiden channeling some of another human's aura toward Jodie. This enables Jodie to have a short vision, which, in this case, gave her a fuzzy glimpse of injured or dead people's last moments. In two different situations in this demo, these visions showed that these humans were attacked by some force. The last one seen showed what looked to be semi-transparent tentacles coming out of the wall to thrash some victim around. My guess is that this entity had something to do with the disaster at this research center, and that Jodie went in to deal with it. 

Just as things got interesting, a Quantic Dream staffer cut me off from proceeding. 

From what we saw in the hour-long presentation and from this hands-on session, it seems that moving through Beyond: Two Souls involves a lot of problem-solving collaboration between Aiden and Jodie. With the simple challenges presented here, it was kind of satisfying to switch between two totally different control types to figure out how to progress. I'd imagine that more complex problem solving will be required as the game progresses. 

While Jodie moves exactly as you'd expect with this simple interaction system, the first-person control of Aiden takes a little getting used to. Flying around and whipping through walls and doors is fun and freeing, but with that much freedom it's also a bit disorienting. The camera control feels sufficiently like moving a ghost around, but with no limitations other than distance from Jodie, you can easily end up lost between walls or other structures. Add in Aiden's negative color view and disorientation comes even easier. 

While I would have preferred playing what we were shown in the hands-off presentation, this demo was more than enough to show off how Beyond will use Aiden and Jodie's unique control schemes together. Other aspects of Jodie's control, like an action system for combat, and vehicle control, were teased during this visit, but it looks like we'll have to wait to try these out.









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