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Beyond: Two Souls

Uncaged photo

PS4 gets Beyond: Two Souls next week, Heavy Rain in March

Do it for Dafoe
Nov 19
// Jordan Devore
If a "huge portion" of PlayStation 4 owners never played something as universally liked as The Last of Us, I wonder how many of them missed out on Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain. "Enough," I suppose. Both games are being re...
Heavy Rain photo
Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls PS4 release date coming 'soon now'

Press square to JA-SON. Again
Sep 24
// Vikki Blake
If you've been patiently making origami and waiting for Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls to make it to PlayStation 4, I have good news - they're coming "soon now". The official twitter account of developer Quantic Dream than...
Europe photo

Eurocage: Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls coming to PS4

In Europe
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Here's some news that snuck by last E3 week. Quantic Dream's beloved Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are coming top PlayStation 4, "only for Europe and the PAL region," according to the PlayStation Blog. The European one. A ...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls could be heading to PS4 with a Director's Cut you should buy this time

More things for Aiden to touch
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Two German retail sites, Alcom and World of Games, appear to have put up listings for an expanded version of Beyond: Two Souls, known tentatively as Beyond: Two Souls Director's Cut. The listings have since been pulled, but i...

Cage gets awarded photo
Cage gets awarded

David Cage awarded France's Legion of Honor

The nation's highest decoration
Feb 18
// Steven Hansen
Quantic Dream's David Cage (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) is being awarded France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honor, for his contributions to the country's videogame industry, Le Figaro reports. Cage is the first vid...
Beyond sales photo
Beyond sales

Beyond two sales: Beyond sold over a million copies

'Beyond sales' kind of sounds like Beyonce
Jan 10
// Steven Hansen
Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream put up this a sort of "thank you" (Ellen) webpage to commemorate selling over one million units before Christmas of last year. Which was also Christmas of like two weeks ago, but also...

Why you shouldn't play Beyond: Two Souls more than once

Oct 09 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]263299:50845:0[/embed] I only replayed one section of Beyond: Two Souls, and it wasn’t voluntary. I don’t know if it’s actually possible to “fail” in the game (I never did, despite being pretty terrible at some of lengthier fight scenes), but for whatever reason my copy decided to freeze at the end of the chapter called “Homeless” (seen above). During that section’s big action setpiece at the end, my fingers had slipped off the analog sticks during a vital moment and I lost control, causing unfortunate consequences for Jodie. In the ensuing cutscene, everyone was being sad and as the camera started to lift up and survey the scene, it just froze. I wasn’t really sure what was going on -- the dialogue continued, making it seem like this was supposed to happen, but maybe I had hit a game over, “Snake, SNAKE, SNAAAAAKE” style (a connection I make because I was constantly reminded of the Metal Gear Solid series, especially in the latter half of the game).  But I chalked it up to my accidentally putting some paper in front of my PS3’s vents, because the system was crazy hot. I let it cool overnight, and in the morning I was ready to play it again. So I did, and something interesting happened: I didn’t mess up. It turns out there was another few minutes of gameplay and an entirely different end to the scene, but then it froze again. Curious if my copy was defective, I had actually written up an email to the lovely Jim Sterling asking if he had been having that issue (not that he would have answered me, but whatever), when I thought, “What if I just need to clean the disc?” And turns out, despite there being exactly zero visible marks on the disc, that rubbing it along my shirt made it work the third time. And in that third time, I forced myself into the same position I had been the first time around, because that was the narrative I had set for myself the first time around. It turned out that the game was supposed to continue, with the same end result being caused by a radically different event. I thought that was cool, and it showed me that small things can have big changes on a moment-to-moment basis, even though I doubt many of them are meaningful in a broader context. But I also never wanted to experience it again. Earlier in the game, I had done things, chose responses, that I felt were proper (for example, I “shrugged” every single time I was given the option), and I was planning on going through some of these chapters again to see what I was missing. But seeing the way “Homeless” changed, I realized that doing so would break what I remember Beyond to be. What I think Beyond is. The game has a 2,000-page script, and I saw at most two-thirds of it and probably quite a bit less, but aside from the likelihood that the rest of the script isn’t particularly well written, it’s that I wanted to keep my story the way I had seen it unfold. And it’s not just Beyond. In Mass Effect 2, I never went to the Citadel. I skipped a massive chunk of content. I have no idea what happens in that section of the game, and I think that’s amazing. Hundreds of hours of work went into content that I gleefully skipped. The fact that the vast majority of players did go to the Citadel (I told a friend that I had done that and he didn’t even believe it was possible) means they had a very different experience with that game than I did. In my Mass Effect 2 universe, nobody actually knows that Commander Shepard is still alive, and that’s the way I wanted it. I’ll never get the achievements for going both Renegade and Paragon (Renegade all the way, baby), but I have my consistent character that I kept across both games (never played ME3, for various reasons). It’s my little version of the games that nobody else saw in quite the same way.  The rise of emergent systems in games like the numbered Far Cry sequels means that people are having truly unique experiences. They tell stories of games that play out only as they saw them. That kind of unique storytelling is what traditional narrative games can’t really reach, but these choice-driven games give people the ability to have these one-of-a-kind experiences. Over the course of Beyond’s ten hours, I made tons of choices, some of them blatant and others hidden. Sometimes it wasn’t even a choice but a mistake. Because I never quite got the hang of the weird controls, there were more than a couple of instances where I very clearly screwed up, and I knew that if I had just moved the stick properly, things would have turned out differently, though how differently I couldn't say. On a second, third, fourth playthrough I could see many of those slight changes and get a different experience. Heck, there are at least five different endings, but I went with the only one that made sense to me. It’s entirely possible that if I had played through the game differently, those other options would have been more attractive to me.  But the “What if’s are all-but-certainly more tantalizing than the reality, and the reality is that my story was just that: my story. Sure, I was forced to follow the rules predetermined by David Cage and his crew, but just because he knew every possible dialogue choice doesn’t mean he knows how any one experience will affect the player. To claim that the game really draws “emotions” in the way Cage does would be disingenuous, but there’s something about owning a narrative that is attractive. It’s almost like developer-sanctioned fanfiction, except without the sex (maybe other choices could have led to sex, I don’t know). [embed]263299:50846:0[/embed] What I really like is the conversation that can come from these different experiences. If I go back through the game and see it another way, I would lessen my own experience with the game, but not if I talk to someone else about what they saw. In Skyrim, the person who saw a dragon fight a troll and a giant saw something unique (or at least something I never saw). In Beyond: Two Souls, I decided not to get serious revenge on the teens who locked me in the closet, but I did mess with their heads just a little bit. One is the result of interesting game systems and the other a series of player choices, but both represent one person’s experience. Some may have sent Aiden in full force against them, and others may have just walked away. It’s entirely possible some people were never locked in the closet in the first place. I don’t actually know, but if I want to find out, I want to find out from others.  Just talking can keep the illusion generally intact. If someone says to me, “I did that thing!” that I didn’t do, I’m fascinated. There’s no grander context for the moment, unless they decide to give me a verbal “Let’s Play,” so it stays exciting. Were I to see it myself, replaying that choice-driven game would expose the seams in its narrative. Three lines of dialogue will be the same, and then there will be several more that are unique. But what happens when the dialogue becomes familiar again? Games like that can never be completely open, so eventually the branches will converge, followed by the realization that maybe the choices really didn’t matter. And then the magic is lost.
Don't replay Beyond photo
Or any game like it
Before Heavy Rain’s release, Quantic Dream founder David Cage said that he didn’t want players to go through the story more than once. “It’s going to be unique to you. It’s really the story you d...

Review: Beyond: Two Souls

Oct 08 // Jim Sterling
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: October 8, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Beyond: Two Souls, is about a girl called Jodie, played by Ellen Page, which is important to note as Jodie is also every character Ellen Page is typecast into playing. She screams, and is sarcastic, and does that half-smile thing, and that's more or less all there is to her personality. She also has more personality than almost every character combined, including the criminally misused Willem Dafoe, crammed as he is into the role of Jodie's dreary paranormal doctor/caretaker, Nathan Dawkins.  Dawkins has charge of Jodie because she possesses dangerous powers -- or rather, the invisible creature inextricably linked to her does. Jodie is bound to an otherworldly being called Aiden, over which she has limited control. He is unwieldy, fiercely protective of her, and is the reason Jodie spends most of her life in a laboratory, under constant surveillance.  While Beyond has a cast of archetypal and terminally uninteresting characters, it has to be said the writing is noticeably better than it was in Heavy Rain. Dialog is slightly more believable, scenes are less awkward, and there are fewer glaring plot holes or embarrassing pseudoscience. However, the story is presented awfully, in a nonlinear fashion contrived to evoke the movies of Godard, Altman, or Tarantino. [embed]263180:50813:0[/embed] There's nothing wrong with the use of disrupted narrative, but it's a technique that requires more care than Beyond even comes to close to providing. One moment, Jodie's a child in a secret lab, the next she's a homeless adult, then a teenager, then a child again, then a member of the CIA. The narrative breaks seem arbitrary and deliver nothing of value to the actual story. Disjointed and only vaguely connected sequences occur without adequate lead-in, and regularly deliver moments that would have had far greater impact had they been presented in a linear story, where the appropriate amount of pacing and build could be achieved. Instead, we're supposed to deeply care about characters who have been barely introduced, while following at least three stories, and a handful of non sequiturs, that have very little to do with each other.  Even worse, the application of the nonlinear narrative comes off as a lazy excuse to put Jodie in situations without having to adequately explain them, which gives the entire game a fractured, pointless atmosphere. Indeed, there seems no real point at all in having broken up the story, other than to mimic those films Quantic Dream perpetually crawls in the shadow of. As such, an attempt to look clever has come across as little more than clumsy pretentiousness.  This is to say nothing of Beyond's total lack of character development. Its frequent time hopping does little to help the fact that there's nobody to root for, and even less to remember. One character, for example, is introduced in an early scene as a cold, unlikable hardass, right before we skip to Jodie falling in love with him years later. She tells us -- through Aiden -- that he's so funny, and great to be around, but we never see any evidence of this. The best he becomes is a generic love interest with no distinguishing features. If we have to be told what a character's personality is, without the character ever exhibiting a single trait pertaining to its verbal description, the writing has failed completely.  Admittedly, there are some decent scenes, but those are mostly thanks to tried and tested narrative tropes seen dozens of times before. The scene in which Jodie is bullied at a party before Aiden wreaks violent revenge is stylishly done, but it's nothing Carrie didn't do better. Likewise, Jodie's barely meaningful adventure in the Navajo Desert is Beyond's best sequence of events, but it leans heavily on well-worn and practically gauche Native American stereotypes to make it work.  I've managed to go a long while before mentioning any gameplay, and one gets the feeling Quantic Dream would like it that way. Essentially following in Heavy Rain's footsteps, Beyond is another spiritual successor to Dragon's Lair, with even less agency and some awkward controls thrown in for good measure. As Jodie, interactions are restricted mostly to walking around, opening doors, engaging in restrictive conversations, and indulging in the occasional quick-time-event sequence. For much of this, the player's input is almost entirely optional. QTE action sequences can be completed without needing to even pick up the controller, as Jodie will survive all encounters if you fail every single button prompt. She'll get hurt a bit, and the story might have a slight temporary diversion, but that's about it. Even dialog, if you don't choose a response, will eventually play itself out.  As with Heavy Rain, the potential for thrilling chase sequences and action scenes is mercilessly dashed against the rocks in favor of an experience so arrogant, it cannot bear to throw up a barrier between you and its allegedly brilliant story. Once you cotton on to the fact that your personal input is almost meaningless, and the impact of your inaction is frivolous, your only real incentive for "playing" is to humor the game, and it does indeed feel like you're patronizing it when you decide to play along with the fantasy of player agency. Nowhere is this more typified than one sequence in which I could choose to speak up in order to stop something bad happening to another character ... and I didn't say a word. It didn't really matter if the bad thing happened (there was only a cosmetic change) and I simply didn't care about the bland, superficial plot vehicle whose lifeless idea of life was in my hands.  There's no tension, no sense of investment, no pleasure to be derived from getting personally involved. Just a plodding, methodical march towards the game's warbling conclusion.  At almost any time, you can switch to Aiden with a press of the Triangle button, but like with everything in this game, any sense of choice and freedom is a mere illusion. As Aiden, you may move through walls, knock objects around, and possess or choke characters, but his skills all amount to one big waste of potential. You only need to be Aiden when the game specifically tells you (or forces you) to be him, and you only interact with the tiny handful of objects available -- all helpfully labeled with bright blue dots. If, for example, Jodie is under siege by a SWAT Team, you can only possess one or two of the arbitrarily predetermined targets, as each scene has a specific way in which it wants to be played. This, of course, opens up a few plot holes, when you start wondering why Aiden only seems to possess certain characters, and why Aiden can only knock over a few objects, and seems to forget these useful powers when the plot decides to invent a sense of threat out of whole cloth.  It's also not very enjoyable to play as Aiden, despite what promise he has. The floating controls are awkward, sluggish, and disorienting, while the way in which you interact with the world -- holding down buttons and moving the analog sticks about -- is ungainly and alienating. It shouldn't feel boring or bumbling to be a wrathful poltergeist, but Aiden manages to be both. In fact, he may not even be the wrathful vandal he's portrayed as. After five minutes in the steering wheel, one could reasonably assume he's just drunk.  There's really not much else to say about the way the game plays. Whatever it tries to throw at you -- whether you're avoiding beastly entities from the cringingly named Infraworld, taking cover to shoot at terrorists because of reasons, or delivering a baby in an abandoned building, you're really just performing the same somber actions, pulling analog sticks and pressing buttons when commanded like some Pavlovian experiment gone wrong. This is not a game to be played, it's an instructional video to be followed, in order to further unlock a story that isn't very good, a story spat at the viewer in shattered, tattered pieces.  Visually, Two Souls is okay to look at. Yes, the uncanny valley faces are impressive on a technical level, but the frequent texture pop-in and robotic bodily animations swiftly defecate on the magic. The game is prone to brief freezing, and loading times are fairly dreadful. Environments are bland, and overall the visual quality fails to stand out in this day and age. Still, if you're curious to know what Ellen Page would look like with every hairstyle ever, you'll find yourself adequately sated.  At least the soundtrack is beautiful, and it does a good job of making certain scenes more compelling than they'd otherwise be, while the acting is a huge step up from Heavy Rain. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe do fantastically, given the mediocrity they have to work with, while the supporting cast is fairly solid too. It's a shame much of the dialog still makes me want to cover my eyes and scrunch my eyes up tight, but at least the delivery is convincing enough.  For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond -- and they can be leveled in feckless abundance -- the overwhelming problem with it is that it's just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they're feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing. And that's all Beyond: Two Souls is -- a pantomime. A childish play at being a meaningful journey, a vapid illusion of passion and poignancy. Nothing but a pantomime.  A perishingly dull pantomime. 
Beyond reviewed photo
Show a little soul
It's hard to divorce David Cage, the public figure, from the games Quantic Dream makes. He is, after all, a man who put himself in Indigo Prophecy's tutorial, immortalized as the movie director he's always dreamed of being. T...

New releases: Beyond, Pokemon X/Y, Disgaea

Oct 07 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Xbox 360: Capcom Essentials, Just Dance 2014, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Let's Sing and Dance, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition PS3: Beyond: Two Souls, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, Capcom Essentials, Just Dance 2014, Atomic Ninjas, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition, Orc Attack Wii U: Just Dance 2014 Wii: Just Dance 2014 PC: F1 2013, Gas Guzzlers Extreme, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Farming Simulator 2013 Titanium Edition, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition 3DS: Pokemon X, Pokemon Y PS Vita: Atomic Ninjas, Worms Revolution Extreme, Malicious Rebirth Just Dance 2014 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii) [embed]263182:50805:0[/embed] Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) [embed]263182:50807:0[/embed] Beyond: Two Souls (PS3) [embed]263182:50808:0[/embed] Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness (PS3) [embed]263182:50809:0[/embed]
New releases photo
Plus Borderlands 2 and Dishonored Game of the Year editions
It's here! It's finally here! Pokemon X and Y is out this week for the 3DS and it's pretty much going to be the only thing anyone talks about leading up to the next-gen consoles. Oh, Beyond: Two Souls is also out this week. ...

Beyond: Two Souls SE photo
Beyond: Two Souls SE

Beyond: Two Souls special edition bonus looks like Portal

Beyond: TWO Souls... Portal TWO... Coincidence???
Sep 30
// Steven Hansen
The special edition of David Cage and Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls comes in a nice steel book case. Also included in the package is a soundtrack and exclusive making-of videos starring Cage as well as actors Willem Dafo...
Beyond photo

Beyond: Two Souls is getting a demo in early October

Hey kids!
Sep 05
// Jordan Devore
Up to this point, I've been unintentionally avoiding Beyond: Two Souls. Perhaps that'll work out for the best. Despite the fact that none of Quantic Dream's prior titles have done much of anything for me, Beyond has piqued my...
Behind Beyond: Two Souls photo
Behind Beyond: Two Souls

Weird mo-cap kissing & more in Beyond: Two Souls video

Into the happenings of Willem Dafoe's imagination
Jul 09
// Steven Hansen
I don't think I'll ever get used to motion capture suits. They're just so goofy. Coupled with little ball speckled faces, it's always hilarious seeing people do things in them, especially acting because the serious tenor of ...

Ellen Page comments on The Last of Us likeness

"It was not appreciated"
Jun 24
// Jim Sterling
Ellen Page isn't exactly thrilled that her likeness was used without permission in Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, besides her appearing by name in another Sony production. In fact, it's specifically because she'll be in Beyond...
Beyond: Two Souls trailer photo
Beyond: Two Souls trailer

Beyond: Two Souls goes militant in new trailer

Skimps on Dafoe, though
Jun 11
// Steven Hansen
I've seen a lot of shots of Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls set in the same run down urban environments that characterized Heavy Rain, but this E3 trailer focuses on Jodie Holmes' (Ellen Page) military training in the Middl...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

David Cage joined by film writers and directors on PS4

Cage refuses to direct anyone else's screenplay
Apr 29
// Allistair Pinsof
It's not normal for a man to write a 2,000 page script or direct a 10+ hour film, so I can't blame David Cage if all of Beyond: Two Souls isn't golden. Realizing how this strains developer Quantic Dream's game director, co-CE...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Quantic Dream's PS4 engine predates Beyond: Two Souls

Company began work on PS4 over two years ago
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
When I asked Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière if its upcoming, untitled PlayStation 4 game would be based on Beyond: Two Souls' engine, I got a response I wasn't expecting. The developer began development ...

Beyond: Two Souls Tribeca trailer + 35 minutes of footage

Apr 28 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]252645:48402:0[/embed] If you do watch, you'll see just how far Cage has come as a director, presenting scenes from interesting angles and getting great performances out of his cast. You also may see some questionable writing choices. Keep your eyes pealed for the cleanest birth ever and a man reacting to Jodie landing from a three story jump by saying "I don't know how you did that, but it was incredible!" It certainly is emotional.  
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Let's talk about emotions and stuff
Say what you want about David Cage, but I dare you to watch the above trailer and not be impressed. I feel you are going to prove me wrong, but join me, however briefly, with enthusiasm for Beyond: Two Soul's immense trailer...

Hollywood photo

Heavy Rain was written for John Goodman and Clive Owen

David Cage's ideal Hollywood cast revealed
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
David Cage has said in the past that he writes characters with actors in mind for roles. With better tech and a bigger budget, Cage finally got the cast he wanted with Beyond: Two Souls which stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe...
Beyond: 2 Soups photo
Beyond: 2 Soups

Watch hour-long Beyond scene and trailer on stream

Live from Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 26
// Allistair Pinsof
Just because I'm in New York this weekend covering Beyond: Two Soul's presence at the Tribeca Film Festival, doesn't mean you have to. Have to be in New York that is, since the hour-long clip and trailer will be live streamed...

Here's a 'bootleg' trailer for Beyond: Two Souls

Apr 24
// Dale North
As you may have heard, Beyond: Two Souls is an official selection for the Tribeca Film Festival. Sony has sent along a fake bootleg to go along with that massive fake script.  After watching a bit of some fake (but well...

Here's the 2,000-page script for Beyond: Two Souls

(not really)
Apr 23
// Dale North
I could see the FedEx delivery man hobbling down the street. I knew he was coming for me, but he was taking awhile as he was carrying a small box that looked like it was giving him some trouble. I met him halfway and he gave ...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls box art is the Ellen Page-iest

Apr 18
// Tony Ponce
Ellen Page. Polygons. Emotions. Mature. Beyond. On a related note, David Cage and Ms. Page will be screening Beyond: Two Souls at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 27. Because it's a movie, I guess. BEYOND: Two Souls Box Art Revealed [PlayStation Blog]

Ducktales HD, Saints Row's Dubstep Gun, & BF4 Propellers

The Destructoid Show is like a hurricane
Mar 22
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! Here's today's Destructoid Show, which aired live earlier from, uh. Not PAX East. Unfortunately. The big news of the day, hands down, is Ducktales Remastered, an HD remake of the NES classic. Sadly, Mega Man isn't ...

Marketers wanted guns on Beyond: Two Souls promo art

Quantic 'categorically refused' generic action artwork
Mar 22
// Jim Sterling
Beyond: Two Souls had to fight to stop its promo art being reduced to a character holding a gun like 90% of the rest of videogame advertising, Quantic Dream recently revealed. Had marketers had their way, Ellen Page would be ...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Gameplay video of Beyond: Two Souls

See it in action
Mar 21
// Dale North
If you read our hands-on preview of Beyond: Two Souls this morning, you'll be glad to see that this video clip shows off much of the same section of game I played through. This lets you see for yourself how the game is looki...
No QTE for Beyond photo
No QTE for Beyond

Cage: No QTE for Beyond: Two Souls

Good news
Mar 21
// Dale North
At a preview event earlier this week, Quantic Dream boss David Cage revealed that their upcoming PS3 game, Beyond: Two Souls, would not use QuickTime Events (QTEs). In an effort to create a more discreet and fluid UI, they've...

First hands-on: Beyond: Two Souls

Mar 21 // Dale North
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: SCEARelease: 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.
Hands-on Beyond photo
Control system detailed
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 prepa...

Preview: An emotional ride with Beyond: Two Souls

Mar 21 // Dale North
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: SCEARelease: October 2013 In this time, Jodie is an adult, a fugitive on the run. She has no family or friends, and her need to escape has left her alone, homeless, on the streets of a snowy city in the middle of winter. By this point she has moved fully beyond the down-on-her-luck stage, passing out from cold and exhaustion in the snow. She would have been left for dead if it wasn't for her invisible protector, Aiden, calling attention to her in the street so that a fellow homeless person could tend to her.  When she finally comes to, Jodie struggles with her self worth, to the point that she feels like going on isn't worth the trouble. Luckily, the homeless people that took her in cared enough to give her some purpose, which gradually puts her on the road to recovery. She begins to care about these people enough that she eventually opens up to them, sharing some of the secrets of her gift. This same gift, her tie to the invisible entity she named Aiden, lets her repay the saving favor in many ways. It's too bad that her past ends up catching up with her in the end. Watching Jodie get to know these people played out exactly as it would in a movie, which made it very easy to be drawn into the story. There's a lot going on under the hood to make this possible. First, the seamless and nearly invisible system of Beyond: Two Souls had everything from character movement to item interaction looking like a cinematic event. It was easy to forget that this was not a string of cutscenes with button prompts, and that a player was controlling the entire session, making every choice and movement. Save for a couple of instances of graphical glitches (the demo was only in alpha state) or where another animation pass might be needed, watching someone else play was like watching a film.  While the game never breaks form in looking like a movie, it does lean slightly more towards the game side of things during action combat scenes. Thankfully, Quantic Dream ditched QTEs in favor of a nearly invisible, prompt-less system where the game slows motion down during combat and awaits simple input from the right analog stick. Players will have to watch the action for context clues to know how to move the stick. We saw a really impressive fight scene where Jodie takes on multiple attackers in the street, where she kicked, punched, dodged, and countered through this input system. Despite the use of "bullet time," the scene managed to be fast-paced and exciting.  Quantic Dream has the PS3 pulling off some graphical sorcery that goes a very long way toward making Beyond look like a feature film. Their engine does some absolutely stunning stuff with depth of field and bokeh, giving every scene the look of a filmic camera shot. Watching snow fall onto already deep snow drifts in the evening, as street lights flickered in the distance, made me wonder how the PS3 was able to display such quality. Quantic Dream told us that some of their early work on renderers for the PS4 showed them that they could apply some new techniques to their PS3 engine. What they've been able to pull over and implement is unlike anything seen in any current generation video game. Dazzling stuff. The performance capture equipment and techniques used during 12 months of shooting real actors really paid off. Their impeccably captured performances seal the deal when it comes to working toward a convincing cinematic experience. Outside of some of the walking/turning animations, every movement is so realistic that the line between game and film is so blurred that you'll forget to think about it. It's also good that the photorealistic faces of the characters never dip into Uncanny Valley. Forget stretchy texture maps with eye holes for faces -- these look like real, living, breathing people, with reactive eyes that have depth and soul.  I could go on about how fantastic Beyond looks, but it's not really about the visuals. All of this tech and mo-cap was to be used to further the storytelling power for the game, and from what I saw, telling an engrossing story was mission number one. The session was bookended by two rather critical story moments, both of which had my mind wandering, but even without knowing where the story started or ended up, all the stuff in the middle had me totally drawn in, itching to know what happens next. Just about every scene moved me in some way -- harrowing, uplifting, reflective, or tense moments that came together to make for a supremely entertaining hour of watching. There was one particularly beautiful moment that I keep thinking about, even some days later. I can only imagine how these sensations would have been heightened if I were able to actually play it.  If you played Heavy Rain, you'll know that Quantic Dream was already well on their way toward their ideal cinematic game experience. It's just that the game was rough around the edges in so many ways that you could never fully be drawn in as intended. Too many off moments had it missing the mark. From everything I've seen of Beyond, it looks like they've figured the rest out since then. All of their work, from the cast, performance capture, graphics engine, and new systems, makes it seem like everything has finally come together. Their desire to share an interactive emotional journey comes through cleanly, with no hindrances. Perhaps all of that ambition has paid off, as it seems they've been able to take a very large step from their last game. Beyond: Two Souls looks to be something special. I can't wait to see more.
Beyond preview photo
Beyond goes beyond
After watching about an hour of live gameplay of Beyond: Two Souls, I felt like I witnessed a string of truly meaningful moments in the life of a gifted yet misunderstood person. In this small glimpse into what was probably j...


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