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Ghost-busted – Quantic demos Beyond: Two Souls

Friday, 8 June 2012 03:02 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Nathan Grayson casts a critical eye over Quantic Dream’s latest jawdropper, Beyond: Two Souls, looking for an emotional connection beneath all the cinematic Ellen-Page-kung-fu-explosion-possession action.

Beyond’s demo was intense. Really intense, in its best moments. It was also – at times – silly, quirky, nonsensical, and tellingly in love with kung-fu. So basically, it had all the hallmarks of A Quantic Dream Game. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to see any moments of real downtime or intimacy. The only emotion on display was explosion.

To hear David Cage (repeatedly) tell it, Ellen Page is the perfect person to play Beyond main character Jodie Holmes. And so, given how rare it is to see gaming’s truly creative stars align with film’s best and brightest, the Juno and Inception show-stealer has pretty much dominated any conversation surrounding Beyond: Two Souls. While I’m all for watching Page – donned in attire incredibly reminiscent of Juno – kung-fu battling, like, eight police officers at once, I must admit that I find the whole situation pretty humorous. Much like the big press conference unveiling, Beyond’s behind-closed-doors demo wasn’t exactly an Oscar-worthy tour de force of the dramatic arts – at least, for Page. Her ghastly companion Aiden, you see, kind of steals the show. And though I’m sure he’s been just as meticulously mo-capped as everybody else, he’s quite, well, invisible – given that whole ghost thing he’s got going on and all.

The demo I saw began with Jodie – at this point age 23 and decently far into Beyond’s 15-year span – asleep on a train. She’d been branded a fugitive and forced to flee from police, explained Cage, and – as you might expect of someone running for their life – she was exhausted. So Cage kicked things off by taking first-person control of Aiden, whose ethereal floating was powered by Sixaxis Technology™. As long as Aiden didn’t stray too far from Jodie, the environment was his playground. And while he’s no connoisseur of fine China who also happens to be a bull, he was still impressively capable of breaking everything he not-touched. For instance, Cage knocked over someone’s coffee, gave someone else ghostly chills, and spilled a water bottle on Jodie in an attempt to wake her up. So basically, he’s a bit of a jerk.

However, before Aiden could give someone a wedgie and terrify them by writing “You’re dumb and have a dumb face” on their notebook, the train got stopped by police. After briefly taking the train’s special ghost exit – also known as a solid steel wall – out into the pouring rain to investigate, Aiden returned just in time to see police officers checking everybody’s IDs. With two rapidly closing in on Jodie, Aiden frantically woke her again, more or less firing the starting gun on a foot-car-helicopter-motorcycle-dog-ghost chase for the ages.

And, well, it was sort of just like Heavy Rain. Don’t get me wrong: the cinematography looked damn impressive. Even so, it was still mostly a matter of timing button presses as Jodie stumble-sprinted through a moving train. Things did, however, get interesting when Jodie got cornered in a bathroom stall and found herself unable to bust a roof hatch directly above her. Cage then leaped back to Aiden – whose unknowable, death-transcending powers include opening doors – and cleared the way for Jodie to climb out. And then, well, remember when I talked about Ellen Page kung-fu fighting cops? Yeah, I forgot to mention that it took place atop a rain-slick bullet train in the dead of night. It was trademark Quantic Dream silliness, but I’ll be damned if all the slipping, sliding chop sockey wasn’t fun to watch.

25 minutes of gameplay footage.

Eventually, however, Jodie’s martial prowess came up short against sheer numbers, so she made a running leap toward a nearby forest and deployed a ghost shield. I am only just now realizing how truly silly some of this sounds when written. But it happened, and it gave Jodie brief reprieve, during which time Cage pointed out the fluidity of motion Quantic Dream’s been able to achieve by using the same motion capture tech as Avatar. Jodie hobbled – soaked in sludgy mud and banged up from the impact – while hesitantly glancing all around. It was damn impressive, too. If I squinted, I probably wouldn’t have known it wasn’t just a video of a real human being.

Then police dogs started barking, and it was time for the only thing that ever happens in rainy forests at night: another chase scene. After Jodie clomped through ankle-deep mud and a waist-deep river, the dogs managed to surround her. They did not, however, expect canine kind’s most fetching friend – a stick – to be turned against them. What ensued was very intense, but still basically Heavy Rain control-wise. Jodie caught a dog clean on the jaw, wrestled another with its teeth inches away from her throat, and ultimately scared them away. Then she scrambled up a cliff and hid barely out of sight – just in time for the police to arrive and, perplexingly, almost immediately give up. Sure, she can leap off a train with powers from beyond the grave, but eight whole feet of climbing? Madness. It simply can’t be done.

At this point, Aiden once again stole the show. Jodie crouched behind bushes the moment she noticed a bunch of police cars blocking off a nearby road, but laid eyes on a motorcycle and immediately hatched a plan. Cage then piloted Aiden toward an officer with an orange aura surrounding him, which meant he could be possessed. After that, it was a simple matter of making the cop repeatedly careen his car into the same guard rail over and over and over. His friends, of course, ran to investigate the carnage, and Jodie swiped the bike amidst all the confusion.

What ensued was worrying. It looked really awkward in motion. The bike’s movement seemed rigid and janky – like even the incredibly well-rehearsed presenter was having trouble keeping it under control. Similarly, the earlier forest scene featured a camera that – while creepily claustrophobic – constantly tripped over its own two feet, sending Jodie into the wrong area a couple times. Quantic Dream’s clearly shooting for a very ambitious presentation, but – and obviously, this could change with more polish – it seems to be over-extending itself a bit.

What ensued was worrying. Predictably, the police gave chase, and Jodie rocketed down a winding road, rain slicing sideways like a hail of daggers. It looked really awkward in motion, though. The bike’s movement seemed rigid and janky – like even the incredibly well-rehearsed presenter was having trouble keeping it under control. Similarly, the earlier forest scene featured a camera that – while creepily claustrophobic – constantly tripped over its own two feet, sending Jodie into the wrong area a couple times. Quantic Dream’s clearly shooting for a very ambitious presentation, but – and obviously, this could change with more polish – it seems to be over-extending itself a bit. That in mind, it was all at once encouraging and eyebrow raising to hear Cage claim that no two areas will play the same way. Beyond absolutely will not, he noted, be 20 levels of chase scenes.

This one, however, continued. The police had erected a full-on blockade at the end of a bridge, and with a freaking helicopter hot on her heels, Jodie had only one choice: ghost shield. Gunfire pattered off thick chunks of ectoplasm as the bike charged through, leaving all manner of twisted metal in its wake. Amazingly, however, the police weren’t ready to give up yet. The second Jodie pulled into a nearby town called, er, Bakertown, a gunshot sent her flying off her bike. On hands and knees, she scrambled behind a car. And then, well, Beyond transformed into Aiden: A Game About Aiden Starring Aiden. Control once again shifted into free-roaming ghost playground mode, except with cars, helicopters, and all the police as brittle, easily crushed toys.

Among other things, Cage made the vengeful spirit flip over cars, choke red-aura-ed people to death, possess a sniper to shoot his friends, run a truck through a building, blow up a gas station (causing nearby SWAT team members to writhe around on fire and screaming), knock down a clock tower, and – as is his mighty, unbelievably powerful ghostly wont – open another door. With Jodie safely inside, Aiden then blew up a helicopter, because seriously everyone, don’t fuck with ghosts, or friends of ghosts, or probably even friendly ghosts. Disappointingly, however, the police hardly moved during all of this. They sort of just stood around or – in the case of the helicopter – hovered. I never really got a tangible feeling of high-stakes danger. I mean, I’m all for the option to freely experiment with a scenario, but there’s a time and a place.

With the better portion of an entire city block burned to the ground, Jodie then emerged, took the SWAT leader by the throat, and – in a tone that could frighten an entire clown convention – told him to “leave me the fuck alone, because next time, I’ll kill everyone.” Which would’ve been a far more effective threat if she hadn’t, you know, pretty much already done it.

Beyond’s E3 2012 debut trailer.

So yeah, Beyond’s demo was intense. Really intense, in its best moments. It was also – at times – silly, quirky, nonsensical, and tellingly in love with kung-fu. So basically, it had all the hallmarks of A Quantic Dream Game – well, sans entirely unneeded gratuitous nudity, but there’s still time for that, I’m sure. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to see any moments of real downtime or intimacy. The only emotion on display was explosion. OK, fear and anger also grabbed the spotlight, but any decently executed action game can pull those off without too much trouble. So, as is, I can’t really tell you whether or not Beyond’s spooky conceit can lend itself to interesting story or relationship dynamics, because Quantic Dream opted to go big and loud instead of low-key yet strikingly powerful.

Encouragingly, Cage closed out the session by explaining how that scene could’ve branched in an entirely different direction – for instance, Jodie could’ve been arrested by the police and taken in – which bodes well for Quantic Dream’s trademark wildly ambitious narrative style. Sure, Jodie probably won’t outright die (she is, after all, the only main character in this one), but here’s hoping that focus will give Beyond a chance to branch more significantly than Heavy Rain’s rather transparent array of smoke and mirrors.

And if not, well – at the very least – I don’t imagine anything that features an Ellen Page train rooftop kung-fu scene could turn out to be boring.

Beyond is a PlayStation 3 exclusive expected in 2013.

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6 Comments

  1. osric90

    Yeah, I was kind of confused about the demo. I hope things will become clear when the game comes out and “emotions” will truly wake up. It was, yeah, fun to see all the action (except for the town, which was really, really confusing) and Ellen Page as a videogame star but… man, Heavy Rain blew my mind with its first gameplay videos, this didn’t… Just like GoW IV.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Clupula

    I sense a distinct dislike of Quantic Dream’s products in this article. There’s a whole snarkiness about it.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Beta

    #2 Agreed, it did say “casts a critical eye” though so I guess that’s to be expected.

    I’m hoping that they’ll have ironed out most of the bugs or weak points by launch anyway, I mean it doesn’t even release until 2013!

    #3 3 years ago
  4. itsucks

    well, they are complete and utter shit. maybe it’s that.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    Puns… Why did it have to be puns :(

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Telepathic.Geometry

    I’m completely sold on this. The first time I play it, like with Heavy Rain, it’ll be a deeply satisfying interactive movie, and the second time, I’ll be trying to get at all of the story, nab all the trophies and see what I missed.

    SOLD!

    #6 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    The first Star Wars: Battlefront image has been posted, and apparently it appeared on the official website at some point this morning. The game will also be released on November 17, according to the official website’s source code. The release date is noted in the code located in the image below. Props to Gematsu for […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is the fastest selling entry in the series to date

    Mortal Kombat X has sold faster than any other game in the series to date, making it the “biggest launch” in Mortal Kombat history, according to creator Ed Boon. Speaking in a series of tweets, Boon said both the mobile and console versions have “literally millions of players getting online” resulting in the servers being […]

  • Shadow of the Beast reboot resurfaces with some new screenshots

    The Shadow of the Beast reboot, which was announced in 2013, has show its face once more with early screenshots. Screenshots of the Amiga classic remake show off the Karamoon’s desert and the main character, Aarbron. According Matt Birch, CEO and founder of Heavy Spectrum, the team is currently hard at work on the “core […]

  • Halo: Spartan Strike arrives on Windows 8, iOS and Steam today

    Halo: Spartan Strike is now available on Windows 8, Steam, iOS devices and Windows 8 phones. The mobile top-down shooter will run you $5.99. Halo: Spartan Strike tells a new story in the Halo universe set during the events of Halo 2 on New Mombasa in 2552. Those playing on Windows 8 devices can compete […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video shows highlights from the Episdoe Duscae demo

    Square Enix has released a Final Fantasy 15 video which shows highlights from the Episode Duscae demo included with launch editions of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. FFT0 has shipped over one million copies worldwide, and a player feedback survey is available for the Duscae demo until May 19. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is available on PlayStation […]

  • Bloodborne has sold over 155,000 digital units since release – SuperData

    PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne has sold over 155,000 digital units since it was released on March 24, according to SuperData’s latest report. The figure produced by SuperData is worldwide and comes on the heels of the one million units sold announcement earlier this week. “After the release of the beautiful but terribly short game The […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Mega May returns, Super Smash Bros. update, Mii Fighter costumes

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a Super Smash Bros. update and the StreetPass Mii Plaza games Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler. The update is rather detailed, and a bit larger than normal, and you may wish to pay special attention to the activities listed. Here’s the full update: StreetPass […]

  • Here’s your first look at Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida in Super Time Force Ultra

    Sony Worldwide boss Shuhei Yoshida is a playable character in Super Time Force Ultra, and today, Capy Games has provided a couple images of the man himself in the game. Yoshida was announced as a playable character in the game during Sony’s PlayStation Experience event back in December 2014. The PS4 and Vita version will […]

  • The wait is almost over – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has gone gold

    CD Projekt RED has announced the news we’ve all been waiting to hear: The Witcher 3 has gone gold. This means Geralt’s latest, and possibly last, adventure has been sent to the factory to be pressed into lovely gaming discs. “We worked so damn hard over the past three years to bring you this game,” […]

  • Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a “couple weeks out from beta,” new trailer

    Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is just a “couple of weeks out from beta,” according to development studio The Chinese Room, and a release date will be announced “shortly.” To give you an idea of how development has been coming along since it was announced at gamescom 2013, the team has released a new trailer […]

  • GTA 5 on PC looks incredible, but I can’t recommend it to console players

    As much as Matt Martin loves GTA 5, he can’t recommend upgrading from console to PC just for a slick editing suite and even prettier graphics. “This is the third time in as many years that I’ve bought GTA 5.” I have a Grand Theft Auto 5 obsession, as I’m sure you know if you’ve […]

  • The Forest engine updated to Unity 5, major graphical and gameplay improvements made

    The Forest’s latest patch added substantial improvements to the game. The Forest version 0.16 is now live on Steam with plenty of new additions. The game has been ported over to Unity engine version 5. The plant and skin shaders have been replaced or rewritten. Many other visual tweaks have been made, such as model […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront banner leaks from Star Wars Convention

    EA has been setting up the Battlefront booth at Star Wars Celebration, and one leaked picture shows what could be the game’s main art. Someone on Reddit posted a picture of the game banner at EA’s booth. Here it is: Lots of things happening here. There’s a Star Destroyer in the distance, TIE Fighters and […]

  • Get GTA 5 working with Oculus Rift using this tool

    There’s a way you can play GTA 5 in VR if you own an Oculus Rift Dev Kit and have a bit of cash to spare. VorpX, the go-to program for adding VR support to games has received an update recently to support GTA 5. This is far from perfect, as it only translates the […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 15 team revealed

    This week’s Team of the Week is now available for anyone to challenge in FIFA Ultimate Team. The team members get selected each week based on their performance during the weekend matches. You can fire up FIFA Ultimate Team on any platform and challenge this squad. You’ll also find some Team of the Week items […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will let you stealth all encounters, including bosses

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will bring back one of the original game’s major features. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is considered by many to be a great game and worthy of bearing the franchise name. One of its grating issues though was its boss fights. You only had one way to fight them: be confrontational. The […]

  • Project Cars PC specs and supported wheels announced

    The release date of Project Cars is inching ever closer and more details have been revealed to answer all your burning questions. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios has revealed the full list of supported steering wheels on all platforms, as well as the minimum and recommended PC specs. Minimum specs CPU – 2.66 GHz […]

  • GTA 5 gets custom FOV mod on PC

    Those not satisfied with GTA 5′s built-in field of view slider can use a new mod to push the number even further. The PC versions of GTA 5 – just like its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts – lets you switch between third and first-person view in shooting and driving. The game has an FOV […]

  • Win! GTA 5 on PC!

    Want to win a Steam key for Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC? Just enter here. GTA 5 released on PC this week and is going down a storm. We like it a lot, which is why we’re giving away a Steam code for Rockstar’s latest. All you need to do is enter your email […]

  • GTA 5 topples Skyrim’s record for highest concurrent players on Steam

    Not factoring in Valve games, GTA 5 is the new king of concurrent player numbers on Steam. GTA 5 is very popular on PC, even more popular than games like Skyrim in its heyday. The number of concurrent players for GTA 5 has peaked today at 301,246. This makes it the only non-Valve game to […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: what does a modern fighting game look like?

    Mortal Kombat continues to evolve as NetherRealm adds RPG systems and daily challenges to a solid fighting game, says Sherif Saed. “Mortal Kombat X takes many cues from games like Destiny, Call of Duty, and GTA Online with hourly, daily and weekly events.” For as many of its familiar facets, Mortal Kombat X has enough […]

  • J-Stars Victory VS+ coming west in June – new trailer

    J-Stars Victory VS+ will make the jump (see what I did there) to the west after all. J-Stars Victory VS+ is the western title for the fighting game which stars characters from a variety of Shonen Jump-published manga. Bandai Namco has announced the fighter will release in Europe on June 26 and in the Americas […]

  • Codemasters F1 license good through 2016

    Codemasters has at least one more F1 game in it. F1 2015 isn’t out yet, so Codemasters is naturally not talking about what it might get up to in the future. We do know what it can get up to, though; Codemasters’ Steven Embling told Videogamer has the option to continue the series. “We have […]

  • Project Cars has pretty deep graphics options on consoles

    Project Cars offers players a wide variety of ways to customise their graphic settings on PS4 and Xbox One. Project Cars is a graphics showcase and all early indications suggest it’s going to be one of the best-looking games out there. Slightly Mad’s commitment to graphics seems to go deeper than making things pretty, though: […]

  • Super Smash Bros. patch nerfs Diddy Kong – report

    Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U is great but Diddy Kong is a beast and must be stopped. The latest Super Smash Bros. 3Ds and Wii U patch seems to have nerfed Diddy Kong, a character so over-powered that serious tournament players generate controversy by choosing to use him. Nintendo doesn’t publish patch notes, […]

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer shuttered

    Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer 2K Australia has been closed down. Kotaku broke the news, and also had word from an anonymous source, who said that all staff have been let go. 2K responded to our request for comment with the following statement: We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process […]

  • Samorost 3 trailer shows Amanita still in fine form

    Samorost 3 looks as delicately beautiful as its siblings. Samarost 3 developer Amanita Design has a reputation for gorgeous, slightly surreal world building. This new trailer for its latest adventure looks just as if not more lovely than the previous Samarost games and Botanicula. Samarost 3 is coming to Mac and PC later this year, […]

  • Amnesia dev’s new project SOMA now in beta

    SOMA is nearly here and I am torn between excitement and horrified dread. SOMA is the latest horror project from Frictional, the team behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent. We’re pretty excited to see what Frictional comes up with next, and we won’t have too long to wait, apparently; the developer has announced that SOMA is […]

  • Steam Guard mobile authenticator now in beta testing

    Steam is now testing its latest security measure. Steam helps you protect your account by offering two-factor authentication, a solution so beautifully elegant and effective that it’s astounding every gaming network doesn’t do the same (looking at you, Sony). Valve’s version is called Steam Guard, and it works via email. This isn’t always super convenient, […]

  • Godzilla battles Mothra in new trailer

    Godzilla lets you stomp around cities and battle classic kaiju. I’m in. Godzilla is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 in early July, but we haven’t seen a great deal of it since its December reveal. The new trailer below gives you an idea of just what Natsume has done with one of the biggest […]

  • Tales of Zestiria to launch this year – new trailer

    Tales of Zestiria continues Bandai Namco’s delightful new habit of bringing the popular JRPG series to the west before the shine wears off. Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, the publisher has announced. That’s not a bad turnaround, given it first hit Japan in January, and localisation of text-heavy titles is expensive […]

  • Project Cars release date locked down, new trailer released

    Project Cars finally has a release date. Project Cars will release on May 8, Bandai Namco UK has announced. We haven’t yet had an update from Namco Bandai’s other regional offices, but its probably safe to bet the racer will release around the same time in the Americas, Europe and ANZ region. We can now […]

  • Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains trailer shows combat, online multiplayer

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains has plenty to offer fans of the anime. Previously known as Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind, the Spike Chunsoft action game is coming west thanks to Atlus. Gematsu reports it’s due in both Europe and North America in May, via the 3DS eShop. The trailer below […]

  • Bloodborne stamina recovery rate affected by equip weight

    Bloodborne players have unearthed an important gameplay detail not mentioned in the game’s menus or manual. In Bloodborne, players need to manage their stamina carefully for best results. A far more aggressively-tuned affair than past Souls games, Bloodborne does away with equip weight limits, and items have no listed weight details. As far as players […]

  • Street Fighter’s Ryu, Fire Emblem’s Roy spotted in Super Smash Bros. patch – rumour

    Street Fighter’s Ryu is rumoured for future Super Smash bros DLC following datamining of the latest patch. Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U were updated recently, and hacker shinyquagsire23 claims to have found some interesting files while poking around in the 3DS patch data. As detailed on Reddit, the audio files included a new […]

  • Suikoden 3 PEGI rating suggests PS2 Classic re-release

    Suikoden. Suikoden 2. And now: Suikoden 3. Suikoden 3 has been rated by PEGI for PlayStation 3, presumably ahead of an upcoming re-release. Gematsu turned up the rating, and although we have no further information at this time, it’s not much a leap to assume the RPG will turn up as a PS2 Classic on […]