Beyond: Two Souls
Developer: Quantic Dream
Platforms: PS3, PS4
Check out just how much Beyond: Two Souls improves on the drizzling experience that was Heavy Rain.
Beyond: Two Souls recently received three new gameplay videos, and for once, they offer us a peak into just how the gameplay would work. And unlike Quantic Dream’s earlier title, Heavy Rain, it won’t focus so much on quick time events (at least, from the footage we’ve seen) as on the so-called “ghost” that accompanies the protagonist Jodie.
But first some background: Beyond tells the story of Jodie, a teenager with psychic powers. As the videos reveal, Jodie has been protected by your typical shadowy organization and trained to use her powers. As most protagonists played by Ellen Paige are wont to do, Jodie rebels even in her basic training. Though she possesses other abilities, it’s her ghost that forms the crux of her true power. This ghost is known as Aiden and for now, it seems Jodie is the only one who really has any control or communication with it.
In the first gameplay video, we see Jodie being educated at a young age. This offers our first peak into her psychic powers. But more than anything, we also get a look at Beyond’s art-style and graphics.
Video Credit CVG.
Both scenes contain their fair amount of action. However, Beyond features far more control in affecting the space rather than in the choices your character could make. For instance, Heavy Rain was more about making choices and interacting with objects. Beyond appears to be more about solving puzzles by altering the surroundings to achieve different results.
Another sequence below gives us a much needed look at Beyond’s combat style. Thankfully, there’s already some Heavy Rain footage to compare it to.
Video Credit VG247.
While Heavy Rain relied on QTEs, much like the first Shenmue, for fighting sequences, it was pretty hit-or-miss in control terms. Practice made perfect, but still – the crux of the gameplay was more about hitting the right button at the right moment. Not much variety when you put this on every single aspect of the gameplay.
Beyond at least segregates this a bit, as you enter into a bullet-time sort of slow-mo while fighting. We would guess that this is for allowing Jodie to have an advantage over bigger opponents. At this stage, it looks more akin to Mirror’s Edge, wherein you could trigger slow-mo to effectively disarm opponents (Jodie does something similar here). Even if relegated to a single-button, we’d be pretty satisfied with this mechanic. We just hope there are other ways it could be put into use – maybe grapple movies that require timing and then mashing the button to effectively dislocate an enemy’s body part? Here’s hoping.
The last video effectively showcases how Jodie relies on Aiden to solve puzzles. The mechanic of pushing objects seems to rely on concentrating the right force and then hitting the button at the right time to remove obstacles – or even just mess with people. We can appreciate regulating the force necessary. It’s not like you want to Force Push every schmuck you see (not right away, at least).
Video Credit VG247.
However, perhaps most intriguing about Beyond: Two Souls is the camera work. Yes, the camera work. Because like Heavy Rain, Beyond relies as much on a third person view – when moving around – as it does on a dynamic camera. It finally seems like David Cage has dumped the “found footage” shaky cam style of presenting his game in favour of a more fluid perspective. Plus, the “shots” – which we can look at as the way certain sequences and events are portrayed – look far cleaner and rely in dynamic lighting better than the all-round dingy atmosphere of Heavy Rain.
Agreed, Heavy Rain was trying to go for a particular tone. But when that tone pervades every single aspect of the game, it gets tiring – and annoying. Here, we see Jodie’s ability to see flashbacks plays into her present time. It creates that allure and suspense along with providing the proper amount of surrealism and fright. It also serves another function that serves up the opportunity for plenty of red herrings, when you don’t know what’s real and what’s a flashback.
Otherwise, the camera angles are cleaner and more dynamic, offering more head room and space for the character’s actions to be seen rather than going for dramatic close-ups and “gritty” perspectives, seemingly to get us in the character’s situation. Sorry Cage, but Heavy Rain was a nightmarish exercise in cinematography and came off as more clunky than cinematic. Beyond: Two Souls, though, looks like a proper movie within a game.
The graphics of course look far smoother. We don’t know what miracle it was that Cage conjured up, but the expressions in Beyond look more muted and less over-the-top and awkward than in Heavy Rain. Add to that a realistic use of lighting, various shades of colours and more crisp textures, and Beyond actually looks a proper big-budget title.
As of now, that big-budget title is a ways off, releasing for PS3 on October 6th 2013. But we’re sufficiently more pumped for Beyond: Two Souls than Heavy Rain.