E3 2013: Child soldiers and human possession in Beyond: Two Souls

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Beyond: Two Souls

When I first saw Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls, it seemed like a slow-paced psychological thriller about an innocent young girl. Based on its first showing, I never would have guessed the protagonist, Jodie Holmes, had a military background. Who would have thought this character could turn out to be a very capable fighting machine? The E3 2013 demo of Beyond: Two Souls focused on that very aspect. I was able to play as Jodie as she fought her way through a city while being assisted by a child soldier that couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. 

Let me just say if you played Heavy Rain, you will the actions in Beyond: Two Souls to be very familiar. The section of the game I played is not anything like a third-person shooter even though there was shooting and cover everywhere. It was actually more like a point-and-click adventure game. When the demo started, Jodie was pinned down behind a wall by four gunmen. Attempting to run to another piece of cover would trigger a brief scene where Jodie attempts to run, but is forced to retreat due to the many bullets coming at her. This is the kind of situation when I had to switch to Aiden. Aiden is like a spirit that is a part of Jodie. No one is aware of her presence, but Aiden’s actions leave a lasting effect. For example, by using Aiden, I was able to knock down a brick wall onto one soldier. Aiden’s second ability choked another soldier until he died. The final ability is possession, and it’s by far the most disturbing. Here’s what happened.

Two soldiers were shooting at Jodie and the little boy. One soldier was on the ground, and another was manning a turret on top of a truck. When I made Aiden possess the ground soldier, he eyes went completely white as if they were rolled into his head. I then instructed him to shoot his partner in the head. A little later in the demo, Aiden’s possession made another soldier kill two of his friends with a knife. It’s truly freaky stuff.

You may be thinking why can’t we always play as Aiden since she’s obviously so good at killing people. Well, Aiden can only be effective at a certain distance. Therefore Jodie has to set up a situation that will allow Aiden to do her thing.

Jodie is by no means helpless without her violent other half. There were a few hand-to-hand combat sequences involving Jodie. When it comes to performing fast actions, Quantic Dream introduced a new directional-based mechanic. Whenever you can perform an action in combat, time will slow down. You then have to look at the direction Jodie is moving and match that direction using the analog stick. For example, if she starts to dodge left, press left on the analog stick. If she’s gearing up for a kick, press up on the analog stick. You really have to pay attention to these somewhat subtle movements. I didn’t fail a sequence, but I’d imagine failure will result in death.

If you hated Heavy Rain, I don’t think you’ll like Beyond: Two Souls all that much. The gameplay appears to be very similar in terms of single button presses that result in multi-step movements that you don’t directly control. You have to be in it for the story, and its graphical presentation. I for one, am all in.

Read [GamerTell @ E3 2013]

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