Beyond: Two Souls Hands On Impressions

By Spencer Pressly on September 26, 2013, 10:14PM EDT

Ever since Beyond: Two Souls was announced I have been very interested in the aspect of the story, but playing the game had me quite cautious. Quantic Dream wanted to improve on every aspect they introduced with Heavy Rain back in 2010. Having the story of Beyond focus entirely on the life of Jodi Holmes a girl linked to a supernatural entity named Aiden is a interesting take on a Sci-Fi story. Also having Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page bring their amazing acting talent really goes a long way as you can easily tell from any of the game's trailers.

Now I finally got a chance to sit down and play through two different parts of Beyond's story. The first part had me playing as Jodi at a very young age when she was still with the CIA and being experimented on. The second part was the entire chase scene shown at E3 2012 when the game was announced where Jodi is out running law enforcement. These were two really good scenes to show the different kinds of moments in Beyond. Although we have seen so many different moments in Jodi's life it hopefully will not end up feeling all over the place.

Beyond looks much better than Heavy Rain and this is due to many less moments of characters having that uncanny valley look where they try to look so real that it ends up failing. Note I said less this problem has yet to be totally gone, but in a game as technically impressive in other places it's hard to really hold it against the game with such a small vertical slice of the final game. Thankfully the major characters never have these moments from what I have seen and Quantic Dream finds a way to make Jodi look just like Ellen Page is there.

Now where Beyond might start to lose people is it's new take on controlling Jodi and Aiden. You use the left stick to move Jodi and the right stick looks around while also being used interact with objects. While there are still certain moments where you will press a certain button in a quick time event (QTE) most of the game will have you dynamically using the right stick with no prompts to control Jodi through the game. This works with the game slowing things down telling you to point the right stick in the direction Jodi is going and this takes a bit of time to get use to, but is much more engaging than pressing a button the game puts in front of you. Fight scenes in particular are extremely well choreographed.

With a single press of Triangle you switch from Jodi to Aiden and the controls for him are interesting if not original. You can move through walls, items, and people as this supernatural being. He is controlled with the left stick, but can only go up or down with R1 and R2. Aiden can also lock onto targets where he can push, damage, choke, or even control certain people around him. There are a lot of options in the gameplay as you have to choose how Aiden acts. This makes Aiden feel like a surrogate for the player as not even Jodi can control his action. As his actions get more and more dangerous the more it seems to take out of Jodi and she is aware of this so she seems to save him as a last resort.

This look at Beyond had me skeptical going into it being and now after playing the game myself, I couldn't be more excited to see how the life of Jodi Holmes unfolds. The amount of interaction and player choice along with all the different repercussions in these two chapters from the game show that Beyond is defiantly on track to being up there with The Last of Us in terms of fantastic games to wrap up this generation.

Beyond: Two Souls will release exclusively on PlayStation 3 October 8th in North America and October 11th in Europe.

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