Beyond: Two Souls Hands-On Preview
Beyond: Two Souls proposes an interesting and unique concept. More so than even Quantic Dreams’ last release, Heavy Rain, this game is trying to transcend the media and push us further towards movie/TV level framing in an interactive environment. We managed to secure some hands-on time with the soon to be released PS3 exclusive title.
Beyond: Two Souls instantly puts its cards on the table graphically speaking. Much like Heavy Rain the game revels in close-up shots of the characters faces. And why not indeed as they’re simply stunning. You honestly can’t help but be impressed by the performance capture techniques the Quantic Dream have honed since Heavy Rain’s release.
The lengthy demonstration section we played started with Jodie as a young girl. In these scenes you are under observation and partaking in a series of clinical trials. This is a tutorial sequence that helps you get to grips with control of your ethereal companion Aidan. You glide around as a blue’ish haze and can pass through solid object, including walls. Undertaking these psychological tests will see you moving in to the room next door and looking at symbols on cards. Pass this test and you get to move on to trying to move object as the spirit form Aidan. Simple hold the shoulder button to concentrate on an object, pull both analogue sticks down then release the stick to cause the object to move.
Past these simple test and on to the next tutorial section. This sees Jodie in a combat class situation where you learn the simple moves that operate the games combat. Here the action takes place for you, moves are executed like a punch, block or kick automatically. Your involvement comes in the final execution. For instance as Jodie punches an assailant from right to left the action on0screen slows and you need to move the right analogue stick in the left direction to complete the move. This is super simple to pick up and can feel quite gratifying despite your minimal involvement.
From these tutorial sections we’re taken on to a scene in a train. Initially you play as Aidan as Jodie sleeps soundly in the carriage. But this soon changes when the train is stopped and the police start to search it for Jodie. Using Aidan you knock over the water bottle on the table near Jodie. This causes her to awaken and see that the police are feet away from discovering her.
A brief tussle and a run through the carriages – the left analogue stick performs the usual basic motor functions for movement – winds-up heading on to the top of the train. Struggling against the wind of the train and the lashing rain outside you slowly make your way along the roof dodging the grasping hands of police trying to clamber on to the roof from below.
You’re soon cornered and a huge brawl breaks out atop the train carriage. The newly learned fighting technique comes in very handy here. Thanks to the rapidly moving background and lashing rain this sequence looks spectacular. As the action goes in to slow-motion, to allow another fight move, the rain and speeding background also slows and it just looks so impressive.
A brief fight later and you end up leaping from the train and using Aidan’s ability to shield you slightly as you land on the forest floor and roll away from the train. This was around half way through the entire play through and I was already totally sold on Beyond: Two Souls.
The game seems to have more of a turn of pace than Heavy Rain. The action orientated sequences really did get the heart pumping despite being technically no more than quick time events. Character interaction looked much improved as well with the relationship between Jodie and her doctor, played by Willem Defoe, being one of note.
So, as it stands Beyond: Two Souls is every bit as interesting a concept as Heavy Rain was. Whether the finished product can attain as lofty accolades as Heavy Rain is still undecided but we feel quietly confident that Sony and Quantic Dreams have produced yet another unique and must see title.