Note: This hands-on preview is based on four hours gameplay with PS3 preview debug code provided by Sony.
Spoiler Warning - There may be some mild spoilers in this preview!
I didn’t really like Heavy Rain, I didn’t even complete it. I played Quantic Dream’s ‘interactive movie’ for about three or four hours before I got bored by its dawdling pace, dull characters, lack of actual gameplay and the fact that I needed to constantly follow on screen prompts before doing something as simple as opening a door.
What I did love about it, however, were the gorgeous graphics and the decision-making element where players got to drive the plot and had an element of freedom with the choices they made. Heavy Rain showed a lot of promise too with the unique way it engaged players with movement to try and make them feel immersed in the game. Though it was a great concept and looked fantastic, it just felt like director David Cage didn’t quite get it right and the finished product wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.
In Beyond: Two Souls, lessons have definitely been learned. This latest interactive movie is a real evolution of the concept and a true showcase of Quantic Dream’s talent. In all areas it’s impressed so far with a really nice balance between gameplay, narrative and interaction. Voice acting from the two main stars Ellen Page (Jodie Holmes) and William Dafoe (Nathan Dawkins) is excellent too and the graphics really are beyond anything I’ve seen before. There's no shadow of a doubt in my mind: Beyond is shaping up to be the complete cinematic videogame entertainment package.
It helps that the storyline immediately grabs you from the outset. Focusing on 15 years in the life of Jodie Holmes we soon discover that she has an invisible friend, an unknown entity called Aiden who has supernatural abilities. Each section I’ve played so far switches between different periods of her life and not always in the same order, allowing you try to piece together clues as to why Jodie is different and how she ends up as a skilled CIA operative where she uses her powers for government gain.