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E3 2013: Hands-On With Beyond: Two Souls

Quantic Dream PS3 Beyond: Two Souls

Note: The majority of the article (black text) was written by me, Marcus. The blue text is written by Leah, who added her own thoughts on the game's demo as well.

Quantic Dream has found themselves with quite a reputation over the years. Although their first game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, was a relative obscurity, the developer found themselves getting more and more attention with each following release. Indigo Prophecy and later Heavy Rain were both viewed as interesting achievements in gaming although some definitely disliked the gameplay mechanics themselves.

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Beyond: Two Souls was a game that we really didn’t know much about before this event aside from the fact that it features two famous actors (Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe) in digitized form. During an E3 trailer, gamers were suddenly treated to images of a firefight within the game. Was Quantic Dream moving away from their methodical QTE-based stories for a more “standard” game?

Well, looks can be incredibly deceiving. The demo set up for E3 featured Page’s character, Jodie, working with a child soldier and spiritual overseer to escape some dangerous territory. They are pitted against men with guns who are poised to kill her on the spot if she moves out of cover. Initially I believed I would be able to retaliate with a gun of my own, but that wasn’t the case at all. Instead, the requirement was to make use of the spiritual component of the game.

While standing in line and watching people play the demo, I was worried I'd have to participate in some FPS gameplay! It's not that I don't like FPS, but I was prepping myself for some QTE stuff. Like Marcus said, however, that component is definitely still the focus of Beyond.

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You see, Jodie has a spirit-based link which allows her to see beyond herself. Players can switch between direct control of Jodie or control of the spirit. As the spirit, you can appraise the battlefield as a whole and scope out enemy locations. That’s not all though, as it can also kill or control those enemies. Depending on what you choose to do to each person will change how things play out - at least it seems that way.

For example, during my playthrough there was a moment where multiple guards were keeping watch together. It would have been possible for me to strangle them all one by one, but that may have alerted one in the meantime that something was horribly wrong. Instead I chose to possess one to kill the others. This ended up working very well and was kind of cool if also hugely creepy.

Although I had been keeping some tabs on Beyond, I had no idea about "Aiden" or having to control him. The first time I had to make use of him in the demo, it was extremely confusing. Moving him and figuring out where to go is awkward. You quickly get used to it, though, and it soon becomes a fun and unique gameplay mechanic.

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Most of the game still does play out via heavy use of QTEs though. Jodie moves from location to location via analog control as well as button prompts and leaves the game feeling more like Heavy Rain than you might expect despite the “action” stylings. Fighting is also taken care of primarily via QTE and some of it is worse than others. For close encounters, fights will slow down and the player must watch Jodie’s movements. They are meant to move the analog stick in the same controller as her motion is going, but many of these scenes are hard to guess right. It’s quite annoying because, while the idea is neat, the execution is definitely lacking.

The slow-mo QTEs in the Beyond demo definitely irked me as well. More than half the time, I guessed incorrectly on what way I had to make Jodie move. Poor girl must have been a bloody mess at the end with how many times I accidentally got her kicked and stabbed. I hope these are made somewhat easier to figure out in the finished game.

Overall the game does seem to be doing some interesting things but it also feels like Quantic Dream are unable to craft a perfectly enthralling game when QTEs actually are now causing trouble for the players. As annoying as it can be to see a big button picture on screen it at least lets the player know exactly what they have to do to survive rather than have them guess at a semi-likely solution. We’ll see how much more they tweak of Beyond: Two Souls’ mechanics before it launches in October for PS3.


2 Comments

Great in-depth preview. Can't wait to get my hands on this game later this year. I like to play games with story driven stuff and fascinating characters. Hopefully Ellen Page will in an Oscar for this. :P

Can't wait for this game.

 

 

 

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