Beyond: Two Souls

(No Catch-all yet? Couldn't find one with the search . . .)

David Cage is back to make us watch a movie while holding a controller.

Our heroine is blessed/cursed with an imaginary friend who turns out to be a very powerful ghost. With her paranormal powers she makes a perfect secret agent (obviously) but things go south and she is soon on the run from the intelligence community (obviously.)

Bog standard Alias/Nikita/Dollhouse story aside, I want to like this game.

The trouble is that I've played the demo and am completely put-off by the controls. In addition to all the QTE, you can move around with the left stick but I still feel separated from direct action. I screw up a lot of the time because I'm pressing the controls that seem sensible to me but they aren't what the game is looking for.

And then there's the ghost. You can jump into a first person view to cruise around and cause some poltergeist havoc but the controls again are so loose and floaty that I was constantly fighting to gain some sort of precision. Most of the time I floated blindly, thrashing for a QTE latch-point so that I could do something.

So, it looks like a miss for me. Anyone else have some thoughts on the demo they'd like to share?

As much as their games are far from perfect, I've always loved what Cage & Co are doing with interactive narrative, and particularly how they handle "soft fails". Yeah, their games are a lot of watching, but Heavy Rain did some really interesting stuff with how you interacted with things, and I want to see more of that, so I'll definitely be in on this one.

For those who didn't play Heavy Rain, there was a sequence where someone was searching for you, and you were trying to hide. As you get into a hiding spot, the game would light up buttons, which you had to hold. It'd be something like first X, then also O, then also L1, then also triangle, and so on, and you had to hold them all simultaneously to stay hidden and silent. It got so that you had to contort your hand pretty strangely to hold the buttons, and holding them was a physical strain. That gave the player the same feeling of "staying silent is hard" that the character had. In any other game, hiding would've amounted to finding a spot, then not touching the controller, but Heavy Rain turned holding still into an active event for the player.

This message brought to you by the Heavy Rain Fan Club.

Haven't played it, but at Gamescom in August, the convention as well as the entire city of Cologne was flooded with ads for it.

No catch-all? Thanks for making one!

I'm among the few that loved Heavy Rain as well (despite it's flaws). I don't dare often speak of that in public forums, for fear of being drawn and quartered, and accused of loving a slightly interactive movie. (It is, so what.)

The graphics were excellent. I knew they were going to be visually impressive, but I just sat mesmerized on the intro screen, hypnotized by the incredible detail on Page. The gameplay is a unique twist, I had quite a bit of fun throwing things around the lady in the room as the ghost.

The combat? Ugh. I kept failing to move in the right direction during combat training. Part of it is my intense dislike of those slippery PS3 thumb-sticks with lose controls, I have never felt precise with that controller, and it really pointed that out. So I really hope I get the hang of it before release.

Overall, I can't wait to enjoy the experience. Screw the nay-sayers, it's all about atmosphere and feels for me. If it can get half of the feels of The Last of Us, I consider that a success. Lets just hope the story doesn't sway too far in the wrong direction. (Cough.. Fahrenheit)

I'm looking forward to this. Loved heavy rain, too.

It's like a reunion! Or a support group?

I need to replay Heavy Rain with my wife soon. Probably before I get to pick up Beyond. Actually, if she likes Heavy Rain, Beyond might be an easier sell.

About the combat. The player has a few seconds before needing to interact. Closely examine what direction her body is moving and match it with the joystick. It's hard to tell sometimes and those extra seconds really help with figuring out where she's going (moving toward the enemy, pushing AWAY from them, throwing a forward punch, pulling her arm UP to block an attack, etc).

FANCLUB TIMEZ. I really appreciated both Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain. Cage is trying to do something unique with games, or interactive fiction if you will, and it comes with both triumphs and failures. There have so far been enough of the former for me to put up with the latter.

I loaned my PS3 to a buddy so I haven't been able to play the demo, but maybe it's even better to go into the full game fresh.

I tried this at the Eurogamer Expo, they had a good 20 minutes demo setup. The combat stuff is all stick movements. Time slows down as attacks or blocks are made and you move the stick in the direction of movement, so if you're punching right the you move the stick right. If you're blocking a hit from your left you move the stick left to block it. The quick time stuff works similarly with directional movement for whatever your doing, for example you move the stick down to duck under something and up to jump over. There is the other element of playing as Aiden (The spirit), you basically just fly around and interact with things in the environment like possessing dudes or flipping cars, it's done by holding R2 (I think) and pulling both stick in a direction indicated by the floating dots. Then something happens or when you possess a guy you make him do something like shoot someone by pressing a button prompt or doing something in the environment. The game looks and sounds great and the controls are alright. There was this weird driving segment where you help R2 and barely steered a motorcycle. Otherwise, an impressive game that I look forward to seeing more off.

My impression from the controls is that Cage is trying to make it even more accessible than Heavy Rain even was, or at least remove the HUD as best as possible or blend it into the environment.

However, I'm actually less excited for the game as a result, and feel as if I can wait on it suddenly. I suddenly wondered as I was playing if anyone thought to themselves "is this form of interaction actually fun? Is it actually enjoyable or pleasurable? Or does it simply function?" Knowing Cage, he's much more interested in telling the story.

The controls function, but I'm not sure if they're engaging, for a better term. Of course, I also just beat Wonderful 101 the day I completed this, which I'd describe as a more balls-to-the-wall action game. Shifting between the two is almost like switching from a car to rollerblades.

I think I want to stream the demo and chat up some commentary, perhaps. We'll see.

ccesarano wrote:

However, I'm actually less excited for the game as a result, and feel as if I can wait on it suddenly. I suddenly wondered as I was playing if anyone thought to themselves "is this form of interaction actually fun? Is it actually enjoyable or pleasurable? Or does it simply function?" Knowing Cage, he's much more interested in telling the story.

I think you can say the same about Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and LA Noire. I find the story is more than enough for me and the interaction gives a chance to alter the story and also fail. The first time I made it through heavy rain I didn't have a specific character I wanted. The second time I got him but couldn't quite get him to make it to the end. It was nice seeing the differences due to his presence or absence in the story.

I don't get that experience anywhere else and it's pretty rare at this moment in time.

Yeah, I should have gone back and corrected "fun" with "engaging", as I later corrected myself. I wouldn't describe L.A. Noire as a fun game, but it certainly has me engaged.

Maybe I was just too busy wearing my backseat game designer's hat while playing the demo, though.

Nah, probably you just wouldn't enjoy the game. Plenty of games that I don't like, though sometimes I pick them up on sale if i'm not sure.

I'm also on the Heavy Rain Supporter Registry--though as I recall, it was fairly well received around here, mostly. And thanks y'allz for this thread, otherwise I might not have noticed there was a demo.

I think, though, I'm also a bit on the wait a bit side. While I did enjoy the demo...I just don't know. One of the things I liked about Heavy Rain is that it was, all-in-all, a very mundane story. There were the super-glasses, but otherwise everything seemed apiece with a gritty thriller--muddy fight in a junk yard, escape from the cops, so on. While knocking things around and being a ghost dick were fun, and doing traditionally psychic things (which usually falls into science end of the supernatural spectrum) as a ghost (the mysticism end) is a neat twist which I assume will only matter to me, I'm not sure. Surely, this is the game he wants to make, but it sorta feels like Cage responding to people who wondered if Heavy Rain was, you know, a gaaaaaame by putting in more obviously game bits, when, no offense, but I think those people can f*ck off, Heavy Rain was pretty obviously a game. Anyway, we'll see.

Also, the game and I had often different readings of which way Ellen Page was moving, and I think the title is terrible.

I bought and enjoyed 'Heavy Rain' for the most part, but intensely disliked the misogynistic and voyeuristic elements. As a result, Id decided to launch one of my one-man-boycotts on Quantic Dream.

However, 'Beyond Two Souls' had me reconsidering... until recent previews about the storyline and now this footage.

Until those previews I had been anticipating a much small story; one focussing on the girl, her feelings of alienation and her struggle to come to terms with, etc, etc. But then it became clear that something much larger was in the offing (e.g. superpowers being weaponised, global conflict, SHIELD, blah, blah, blah). This footage seems to confirm the previews.

Also, the cut scene to in-game footage was worrying.

As a result...

*Adopts Duncan Bannatyne's Voice*

"Ah'm oot!"

I suspect this will be something I watch on someone's Let's Play feed, if they can get throughout without too much commentary.

Otherwise, meh. Very interesting for having such an interesting and normal(ish) female protagonist... but I need something more gameplay-wise and I don't see this as being that replayable on gameplay. Story, I suspect it would be good to do multiple playthroughs for the sake of seeing missed things, finding foreshadowing, etc... but, if I'm bored by QTEs, I'll never notice them.

Should keep in mind that the opening of Heavy Rain was hardly all that interesting to play, unless it was just from the spectacle of playing a game a bit differently. I'm also in the Heavy Rain camp, and like Chaz said, there were moments in Heavy Rain where the act of button-pushing became an intense experience. The demo isn't going to go all out on you quite yet, so who knows where the end product will be.

Demosthenes wrote:

I suspect this will be something I watch on someone's Let's Play feed

Well hey! I was thinking of running a stream toni-!

if they can get throughout without too much commentary.

Seriously though, attempts to put together a RambleCast this week seems to have failed, so I think tonight around 8 or 9 I'm going to just stream this on my Twitch channel with commentary.

I LOVED Heavy Rain.

All you have to do is approach the game on its own terms and it becomes brilliant.

Quips about QTE's, no true "gameplay", etc. have no place in the conversation because traditional gamey-gameplay elements were never part of the design document to begin with. It's like badmouthing a Honda Civic because it doesn't have wings and can't fly.

Aaron D. wrote:

It's like badmouthing a Honda Civic because it doesn't have wings and can't fly.

Lousy Honda Civics.... I'd buy one if it had wings and could fly!


I think the issue for many with 'Heavy Rain' (and - potentially - with 'Beyond Two Souls') was the quantity of conventional gameplay in what advertised itself as a video game.

To borrow your own analogy, if the Honda Civic has been advertised as being a plane, then one is perfectly entitled to complain about an absence of wings and an inability to fly.

Me, personally? I thought it was brave, likely to be influential and flawed. But there wasn't £39.99 worth of 'game' there in my view.

Also, wasn't there a bit of cheating too? Wasn't there was at least one sequence (the one involving the car and the freeway, I think) which played out the same whether or not the player made any QTE inputs?

Ahh, the old "is it a game? is it enough game?" debate. How I've missed you.

"Can I interact?" Yes.

"Can my interactions effect what happens in the game?" Yes.

Video game.

And I'm not speaking "can I get twenty different endings", either. I mean "can my character die if I screw up? Yes? Okay, video game."

The only difference between Heavy Rain and some of Assassin's Creed's missions is that Heavy Rain is more forgiving if you screw up.

detroit20 wrote:

@AaronD.I think the issue for many with 'Heavy Rain' (and - potentially - with 'Beyond Two Souls') was the quantity of conventional gameplay in what advertised itself as a video game.

Honestly I don't remember the marketing campaign for the game as I was sold on a Day One purchase months before it released and subsequently went on a media blackout for it. However, I did go in with eyes wide open and knew I was essentially purchasing a modern spin on classic Point & Click Adventure-style gameplay.

The whole "Is or Isn't It a Real Game?" debate strikes me as a bit silly. If there are images (or just text!) on a screen that I can manipulate with controllers, k/m, fingers, gestures...whatever. Yeah, that's a video game.

Pretty cut & dry, imo.

I agree, the debate is dumb. It's like looking at food from a completely unfamiliar culture and debating about "is it real food?"

So I'll be doing a stream with commentary on Beyond: Two Souls tonight at 9pm EST. I'll be doing prepwork around 8:30pm. You can check it out here.


Do you have a review copy or something?

Nope, just doing the demo. Sorry if it sounded fancier! I'm using it to help practice for Extra Life. Just going to chat up some of my backseat game design.

EDIT: And I spent 30 minutes talking to myself while playing a game, because I flubbed up. There were three people it said were watching, so if that was any of you guys I'm sorry. I'll try again another night.

So? Who's picking it up? Anyone have a better time with the ghost controls than I did?

I guess the review embargo is up.

Man, are they polarised.

I have it on cheap pre-order. Should get it tomorrow. These games are always far from perfect but I always appreciate them for what they're trying to do. Based on my time with the demo, Quantic Dream has definitely mixed up the formula from Heavy Rain. I'm not at all surprised by the polarised reviews as these are games that are clearly not for everyone. I am surprised how many people are reviewing this title who have open disdain for David Cage (I like Jim Sterling but he pretty clearly has it out for Cage and the type of games he makes) but hey, opinions from the whole spectrum are valuable and people who are into these games the way I am will buy them regardless of reviews. I am excited for it.