LOS ANGELES — Writer, director David Cage knows that Beyond: Two Souls, his studio’s newest game unveiled at Monday’s Sony E3 press event wasn’t the easiest way to do things. “It’s a very ambitious title. After Heavy Rain it would have been easier for Sony and Quantic Dream to just do a Heavy Rain 2. You know, let’s do another game, make it exactly the same – just change the story and change the characters, just pretend it’s another game. That’s not how we work at Quantic Dream though, and I think we share that vision with Sony. We’re here to be pioneers, we’re here to take risks and try new things, try to discover what we can do with this fantastic technology called interactivity.”
At Sony’s event at E3, the world got a small taste of what Beyond: Two Souls would be like, but since no gameplay was shown — they were let with a lot of questions. We sat down with Cage and the game at a closed doors event during this year’s E3 to get a look at how it plays, and why this might just be one of the most important titles this year.
The game follows a young girl named Jodi, who has a link to a spirit she’s named Iden for 15-years of her life, a challenge according to Cage. “It’s defiantly the most ambitious title of my short career. It’s been a huge challenge as you can imagine, writing a character over 15 years, seeing how she will evolve, how different moments will impact her and who she becomes. We just hope that players will become as excited about all of this as I was when I was writing it. All Jodi wants is to be normal, but she can’t because of this ability. Beyond is really about the life of Jodie Holmes, through 15-years of her life. We’ll start when she’s really young, and we’ll see her being a teenager and becoming an adult. We’ll see how she changes, how she grows and most importantly, how she learns to live with this thing. And living with this entity as you can imagine, especially since this entity isn’t just a power or a pet, it’s a character, it’s really someone with its own personality in many ways — It can be very nice and very protective in many ways, but at the same time it can be very violent and very jealous.”
Published by: Sony
Release date: TBA
Unlike in Heavy Rain, where the game featured multiple playable characters, Beyond focuses solely on Jodi and her journey, but according to Cage, that doesn’t mean that the game is any less deep. “You’re controlling one character through fifteen years of here life, and that’s going to feel like a lot of different characters,”Cage told us. “It will feel like more than four characters with only Jodi Holmes.”
The demo began with Jodi, who is wanted by the FBI (though Cage wouldn’t tell us why) on a train ride, attempting to sleep, but unable to because of Iden. During this sequence, you control Iden, you flow through the air and are allowed to interact with objects. The live demo showed Iden knocking coffee cups out of people’s hands and being mischievous. Just then, the police came into the now stopped train, looking for Jodi, the goal then became for Iden to alert Jodi and get her away from the incoming danger. Once we did that, our player control switched over to Jodi as we tried to escape our pursuers. Though the game features Heavy Rain style quicktime events, the player is always in control of Jodi, even during the action sequences, which Cage says was important to what they wanted to do with Beyond. “Everyone knew after Heavy Rain that we could tell a story, but the question became can you have this story mixed with great action, so it was really important to us to integrate that into Beyond.”
And integrate they did. The next sequence was an incredible dramatic escape, that found Jodi fighting her way to the top of the train, and eventually jumping off into a forest, fighting off attack dogs and attempting to hide at every chance she got. One cool sequence found Iden possessing a police officer and having him ram a cop car with his own, creating enough of a distraction for Jodi to run past unnoticed. This then led her to steal a police motorcycle and ask Iden to create a force field around her to pass through a barricade of officers. Eventually Jodi and Iden found their way to a small town, where officers ambushed her. We then began to control Iden again as we kept the cops away from Jodi by whatever means necessary. We were shown several cool ways that Iden could go about his duties, including possession, using a force blast to take out cars and even crippling entire buildings. The whole thing was an incredibly dramatic and gripping encounter, that like many aspects of Heavy Rain, can be played through in multiple ways, including Jodi being arrested or possibly even worse. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to kill Jodi like you could in previous games.
” One of the most important things in my work is to try to get rid of the Game Over situation – I hate that more than anything. In the context of a story driven game like Beyond, game over really doesn’t mean anything. Jodi can not die, but in another way, she can. I can’t reveal too much, but there are some very interesting parts of the story that deal with Jodi’s mortality.”
Don’t let the focus on action fool you though, Cage considers his main goal with Beyond to be to tell you a story, to connect with the player. “Beyond is about growing, accepting your differences, whatever they may be and having to deal with them, but it’s also about death because this entity has a connection between our world and the other side, so as Jodi grows she will learn more about the other side, about moving on,”said Cage. “We just hope that players will become as excited about all of this as I was when I was writing it.”
Of course, capturing that emotion becomes a lot easier when you have an Academy Award nominee as your star. Beyond stars actress Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) as Jodi, and according to Cage, she was perfect for the role the entire time. “It’s really been a dream come true for me having an actress with the talents of Ellen Page, as it would be for any director in the world. I had a name and a face in mind from the very first moment I started writing the script. Usually what I do when I start writing is get pictures of existing actors so I can have a face for my characters. I had her face in mind for the very first time I sat down to write the script.” Interestingly enough, it wasn’t always a given that Page would take the role. ” When I was done with the script, we were looking for someone to play Jodi and I thought – why not try Ellen Page? I worked with David Bowie (in previous game Omikron: The Nomad Soul) in the past, why not Ellen Page? So we sent her a copy of the script, a copy of Heavy Rain and also told her what we expected from her, how it would be a nightmare, it would be like shooting four movies at the same time – it would be physical. And you will need to learn 100’s of pages of dialogue by heart. We did this so if she did say yes, it would be because she really wanted to do it and there would be no reasonable explanation.”
Surprisingly enough, Page accepted the role, and was very interested. The first meeting between Cage and Page (Editor’s Note: That could be a Saturday morning cartoon) happened last year, during E3. “We met at a bar at last year’s E3 and it was really surprising to see a character come to life right in front of me. It was really like Jodi Holmes was there right in front of me. She did some fantastic performances.”
Cage told us that the game is still in a very early state, and no release details were given, though we’re expecting 2013 at the earliest. Stick with Blast for more on Beyond: Two Souls, as well as the other titles to come out of this year’s E3. Be sure to check out all of the screenshots below for your first look at Beyond: Two Souls.