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Beyond: Two Souls Preview

Someone said to me the other day that the PlayStation 3 is not going out quietly. They were right. If you need proof of this statement then Quantic Dream’s latest title Beyond: Two Souls looks like it’ll happily provide it.
Following on from the huge hit that was Heavy Rain was never going to be easy, but if anyone could do it then surely it would be David Cage and his very talented studio. Heavy Rain was certainly a very cinematic experience and it seems that Beyond: Two Souls learns from this, while at the same time creating an even more immersive experience for gamers.
The story of Beyond Two Souls tells the tale of Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page). Jodie is special in that she is linked to a supernatural entity named Aiden, who is tied to her through a spiritual cord. Through this connection Aiden can communicate with Jodie and she can therefore utilize his spiritual abilities to complete tasks, solve puzzles and most importantly of all, defend herself. In game this is achieved by Aiden being a separate character, playing as a floating spirit that no-one can see. Given that he is attached to Jodie there is only so far he can move before this connection cuts out, so he has to stay close. It's also worth noting that Aiden separating from Jodie sends her in to a trance and also takes a lot out of her, therefore when she wakes up she generally has a nose bleed and is feeling very tired, which can be problematic for her.

As well as Aiden, there is also another man in Jodie’s life named Nathan Dawkins (played by Willem Dafoe). Nathan is a government scientist who has been looking after Jodie and studying her case since the age of eight. As the story progresses Nathan becomes a powerful figure, and since he knows of Jodie’s powers well, makes use of her on numerous occasions, which in turn sees Jodie join the CIA.
Having played around one third of the game I was able to get a good feel for the various scenarios that Jodie will find herself in and it’s fair to say that the experience does tell its story well. One of the early scenes saw Jodie as her eight year old self in a government testing facility; this is where you are first introduced to her powers as the scientists ask her to use Aiden to read the cards selected by a lady in the adjoining room. As explained, at any point in the game, Jodie and Aiden can be separated, allowing you to play as Aiden to scan the area, move through doors and defend Jodie as necessary. In this case Aiden was able to go into the next room and look at the card, allowing Jodie to make the correct guess. Unfortunately Aiden is a little mischievous as well as being unpredictable, which in the case of this scene soon sees him wrecking the room next door and half choking the poor lady at the same time.

Other scenes within our preview widely greatly thanks to the game swapping between Jodie at various stages of her life as we learn her back story. For example, one scene sees Jodie at home as an eight year old and during this particular level she goes outside to have a snowball fight before things get out of hand and Aiden ends up half killing a young boy when trying to defend her. Another scene has you playing as Jodie as she trains for the CIA, having you fire weapons and running and jumping over obstacles.

All of the scenes are very cinematic, but more importantly, interactive, having you control Jodie with the left and right thumbsticks as the on-screen aids prompt you to move and interact with objects. Aiden is just as easy to control. Again using the thumbsticks you can move around and perform actions. The only difference with Aiden is that you’ll need to line up glowing orbs which appear as prompts in order to perform actions. This is done by using the left and right sticks, allowing him to attack, bash objects and solve puzzles. Interestingly, you can also use Aiden to heal Jodie by lining up these same orbs. Aiden can also help Jodie read the minds of dead people, by redirecting their memories to her.
Thankfully Jodie can also take care of herself, mainly thanks to her CIA training. In this respect you are able to fight off enemies, using visual prompts to either kick or punch them, or to dodge. During one of the scenes in the preview, Jodie also learned to use a gun, although this was not required in a real scenario in the levels I played.
Given that the game includes two ‘A’ list Hollywood actors, it’s hard to argue that the performances are anything other than top notch. I could feel a real emotional attachment to the characters forming in the short time I played the game, which is what a good story should provide. Of course it does help that Beyond: Two Souls feels like a real cinematic experience in every way, in fact at first glance both my son and his friend thought it was a real movie.
I’d love to have kept playing Beyond: Two Souls, but alas the preview code came to an abrupt end, leaving me waiting to find out more about Jodie’s fate. But based on what I’ve seen so far, PS3’s line up is about to get yet another classic game to add to its already impressive list.

Edited On 10 Sep, 2013

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