It’s not often a videogame features the talent of Hollywood stars like Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, so it’s no surprise that anticipation has been building rapidly for Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls. Though Sony has already released a 35 minute gameplay preview of the game, we got a chance to go hands-on and play through a Somolia-based level during the first day of E3 2013. Does Beyond: Two Souls live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
Vocally and visually, the performance by Ellen Page was stunning and delivered some truly intense emotions. Prior to E3, gamers knew that her character, Jodie, had some special abilities. The Sony Conference brought in the revelation that Jodie had been thrown into a military-based training program, which eventually results in her being sent to Somolia to kill a local warlord.
Though Quantic Dreams has stated that Beyond would have no quicktime events where the game tells players what button to press, almost immediately there was a scene that did exactly that. The rest of the button-based timing event sequences feel very natural, and gamers will be forced to quickly press the correct directional buttons as Jodie fights in hand-to-hand combat, dodging blows and exchanging punches. With no proper on-screen indicator telling them which button to press, the intensity of scenes is amplified as Jodie takes hits as payment for gamers’ incorrect button hits. Such gameplay flowed smoothly and quickly as Jodie fought through a Somolian town in chaos so that she could reach a tower across the encampment.
Near the end of the Somolia level demonstration, Jodie discovers one of the people she had controlled (and consequently had gotten killed) was the father of one of her companions – a small french child armed with only a smile and an AK47. The cutscene to follow had great delivery from both actors and should deeply entrench gamers into the tone and theme of the game, and naturally evolves into a quicktime event which may catch some players unawares. Not knowing when Jodie will be forced into these kinds of events will leave gamers at the edges of their seats, as Beyond seems to allow danger to creep out from more corners than not.
While the graphics don’t always compare to some of the next-generation titles being shown off at E3 this year, it’s accurate to say that Beyond is one of the best looking titles for the current generation of consoles. Quantic Dream has worked well on creating large and complicated environments which give off a natural feel, and the focus on facial animations is highly evident during most of the scenes. The smoothness of the animation lends to each scenes’ credibility, creating an immersive experience which grants Quantic Dream plenty of leeway in developing their narrative.
Beyond: Two Souls looks like it’s going to be a very entertaining game and one of the last flagship titles for Sony’s current console. The button-based events feel very natural, and warping between Jodie and her ability becomes second-nature after just a few minutes of playing the game. Those who have played Quantic Dream’s highly-rated Heavy Rain will be able to immediately adapt to playstyle of Beyond, and the new game truly does look like it’ll expand on the previous title and go beyond such expectations of entertainment and narrative. The game looks polished and entertaining, and as one of the last major PlayStation 3 releases, it looks like it’ll help the console go out with a bang.
Beyond: Two Souls will release on October 8, 2013, exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
Follow me on Twitter @Makelevi.