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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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    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]

  • Cthulhu voodoo: why Bloodborne is the best Lovecraftian game

    Sherif Said tackles Bloodborne’s links to Lovecraftian horror, explaining why you should face the madness and immerse yourself in its lore. Spoilers inside. No other game could commit to its themes so religiously without feeling the need to compromise its vision and veer towards accessibility. Bloodborne stands tall above any game that dares attach itself […]

  • WWE 2K15 is coming to PC this year

    WWE 2K15 will make its way to PC this spring. WWE announced that WWE 2K15 will make its debut on PC in the spring. The game will be based on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, both of which came out in November. MyCareer and 2K Showaces modes are included, as well as all […]

  • GTA 5 PC: new mod adds snow to GTA Online

    If you’re looking to get some snow in your GTA Online, someone figured out a way. Modder ECB2 created a mod that works with GTA Online on PC. The mod is called “Snow in GTA Online” and it does what it says on the tin. YouTube channel imperfectplayers captured a video showing it in action. […]

  • Deals with Gold: Call of Duty edition

    Xbox Live Deals with Gold for the week of April 20 are now live with mostly Call of Duty games. Various Call of Duty games are on sale on Xbox One and Xbox 360 through Xbox Live this week. Indie games Never Alone and We Are Doomed managed to sneak in as well. With the […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: PSN sign in problems fixed in new patch

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Mortal Kombat X and it brings an end to the aggravating sing in issue encountered by some users on PS4. Mortal Kombat X 1.03 patch has been released. The patch fixes bug CE-34878-0, which affected the PlayStation 4 version. The bug caused users to have to log in and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: new patch fixes Windows Media Player issue, getting stuck in the clouds

    GTA 5 has received a new patch on PC to fix issues caused by the lack of Windows Media Player and getting stuck between online matches. Patch 335.1 is now available to all owners of GTA 5 on PC. The strange issue that affected those who didn’t have Windows Media Player installed, has been fixed. […]