Chris Talks- Beyond: Two Souls

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“The Way We ‘Play’ A Game”

Quantic Dream have done what they can with the tools available at the time to change the way we ‘play’ a game. Blurring the lines between film-making and interactive-storytelling, David Cage does what he can to bring topics and subjects to a mature audience, offering an utterly different experience to the nature of video games. This is being showcased more than ever with his new title, Beyond: Two Souls, that puts real actors performances (not for the first time) into the world of a video game. Motion Capture may be a gaming staple and L.A. Noire had its uncanny facial acting/interrogation mechanics, Beyond has taken it to the level of Hollywood with full ‘Volume’ acting and the Mo-Cap swim suit, face spot shabang. To ensure every emotion and subtly is captured to immerse the audience within the story and performances.

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“Not All Is What It Seems”

A-listers Ellen Page (Super) and Willem Defoe (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) form the strength of the cast, with Page playing the protagonist role of Jodie Holmes. We see Jodie over a period of 25 yrs beginning at 8 yrs old where we discover that not all is what it seems. Since birth Jodie has been linked with/watched over by a Casper like poltergeist by the name of Aiden, whom its seems, like a jealous parakeet attached to its owner, becomes defensive and violent around new people. Aiden is the other half of Jodie, capable of passing through any environment and influencing objects and people to a fatal extent in order to look after Jodie. Enter Willem who plays Nathan Dawkins, a psychologist of sorts who becomes a sort of mentor and surrogate father for Jodie. His character tries to understand what Aiden is and how he works through Jodie, but more importantly, how Jodie can be taught to control Aiden making her a powerful weapon yet to be unleashed.

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“Observation And Quick Decision-Making”

Not much is known about the story other than what I’ve just outlined, however Jodie does work for the CIA during one of the glimpses we see of her life, taking part in covert operations within Somalia befriending a war child half way through. Much like Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit (European Title) before that, the controls rely on observation and quick decision-making when the time calls for it. While this game has departed from the Move controller it fully employs the Sixaxis and the pressure sensitive activation of the environment however, instead of the cyclone of prompts that gave Heavy Rain its unique UI style, Beyond highlights elements with a simple dot to differ between interactive parts of the environment. At the same time combat has been simplified changing from the QTE roulette to a Fight Night style analogue based reaction test, where a snap of the stick during a slow motion respite dictates Jodie’s counters and attacks.

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“The Most Memorable Experiences”

I’ve enjoyed each game Cage has brought to us with Quantic Dream so far, each feeling genuinely new and original, bringing a intriguing story and compelling gameplay I rarely experience from start to finish with games. Whether or not Cage’s work is known to many, his games are for me the most memorable experiences. And based on how his new game has been made, the complex time jumping supernatural tangent the story takes, will no doubt be another refreshing blast of game-play to an almost stagnant previous mainstream period.

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