The successor of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls shows that a games narrative is deeply important to its player. In some places, it’s as if I was watching a movie, the interactive fiction used by creative geniuses QuantricDream’s allows the player to completely change the path of the game, by making the smallest of choices.
With obvious similarities to Heavy Rain, its evident creators QuantricDream’s went on to push the boundaries with its newest creation, not only graphically but narratively. Minor glitches in the game go unnoticed due to the narratives ability to obsess the player.
The game is two-play, throughout the game you switch between physic powered protagonist Jodie Holmes and her invisible entity Aiden. Aiden who has been linked to Jodie from birth, is always floating above her, and has the capabilities to help Jodie on her journey by helping her complete tasks by travelling through walls and killing or possessing targets.
Instead of bouncing from one character to the next, as in Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls repeats the same action, but implements it differently. Instead, of starting the game where you would believe it would begin…at the beginning, Beyond opens at the ending of the game, with Jodie basically describing her confusion of her life events (I refuse to give spoilers), this then sends you on a disorganised journey of her life, bouncing from childhood, to adulthood to adolescent periods of her life. The more you play, the more you learn about your heroin.
It’s hard to put your figure on the genre of this game; if I could describe it as anything I would say it’s a supernatural horror thriller, a gamer’s idea of heaven.
As a motion-capture based game, Beyond is not without its stars, lead Ellen Page, who plays super powered Jodie and supporting lead Williem Dafoe, Nathan, Jodie’s psychiatric doctor showcase some incredible acting throughout the game, and show that film and gaming can become interlinked.
With incredible high-spec graphics, it would pass as a Hollywood movie to onlookers, at some points of the game, the animated leads look as if they’ve made a human appearance in the game, but this is due to every angle being focussed on in detail when in the design and creation stages of the game.
One difference to the timed button tapping territory QuanticDream studio seem to enjoy, is instead of just a small timer on the button of choice (as in Heavy Rain), the prompts create slow-motion in the scene, so the player is aware of when to react, although this feels as if the anticipation aspect of the game is lost, the more time you spend on the game, the more your mind ticks over and the more you want to figure out about Jodie.
In regards to Aiden’s gameplay, a simple tap of the triangle button allows you to interact as the heroin’s entity. Not only is Aiden able to travel through walls and locked doors, he also has the capabilities to kill and/or possess any threats to Jodie. If possessing and killing isn’t really your thing, Aiden can simply be used for unlocking or unblocking doors and entertaining a young Jodie when she cannot sleep at night.
In my own personal opinion, the best scene in the game has to be the homeless scene, I believe this is when player and character truly become one, and this is where the player starts to understand Jodie and her struggles. This scene shows the caring side of Jodie, and is where you make some of the most significant choices in the game to change your path.
Beyond isn’t perfect, but if it were, that would be the end of gaming, development is a key part of the creation of new games, and I believe we will see a lot more cinematic gaming in 2014.