One of the titles that serves as a testament to what can be achieved when talented game developers make a relentless push to challenge the perceived limits of console game design is the PS3-exclusive ‘Beyond: Two Souls’. Conceived and crafted by David Cage and his creative team at Quantic Dream, ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ immediately captivates with its masterful combination of eerily lifelike motion-captured characters, uniquely engaging gameplay, and mature cinematic narrative.
What was immediately apparent over the course of our the game’s ten hour campaign, was that for all of the promises and hyperbole regarding the fusion of video games and movies, Quantic Dream, has managed to create the hybrid entertainment experience that has eluded most studios. It’s not simply that ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ features the likenesses and performances of actors Ellen Page, Willem Dafoe, and Kadeem Hardison, but rather that the realistic manner by which you interact with them is dramatically significant to how the game unfolds within each scene and the game overall.
Gamers familiar with Quantic Dream’s previous effort, ‘Heavy Rain’ will recognize the style and gameplay similarities, but should also appreciate the more action-oriented refinements that ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ introduces. One of the most exciting extensions of this is the fact that failing a particular scene or sequence doesn’t inevitably lead to the dreaded “game over” screen but rather the story simply branches seamlessly to an alternate outcome and ultimately to one of the games multiple endings. ‘Beyond’s’ “butterfly effect” style game progression was apparent as we peered over the shoulders of our fellow gamers at the game’s demo kiosks. Although we were all playing the same build of the game, the scenes varied considerably as each player’s actions and choices were carried forward. Given the myriad of potential iterations, ‘Beyond’ makes a particularly compelling argument for multiple playthroughs.
Although the gameplay in ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ will likely be considered too passive for some, we were thoroughly impressed by the quality of the experience and risks that Quantic Dream and Sony took to give gamers something new. It may not be powered by next-gen hardware, but ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ truly represents the next level of interactive entertainment.