Upon leaving the Beyond: Two Souls Theater at Sony’s booth in the GameStop Expo, we couldn’t help but wonder how the game played. Luckily for us, as soon as we stepped out of that theater, there were Beyond demo stations waiting for us.
This is purely a look at Beyond’s gameplay. If you need a bit more of a background with the game, check out our first-look here.
Beyond’s demo begins with Jodie Holmes (played Inception‘s Ellen Page) in a sparring gym getting her ass handed to her by the men training her. During some point in the game, Jodie is taken to the military in order to better protect herself, so I’m assuming this is the beginning of that process.
This part of the game actually works out as an effective tutorial to get the hang of the game’s controls. While Beyond has been compared to Heavy Rain, another interactive story created by Quantic Dream, it’s actually a lot more involved than that. There’ll still be your fair share of interactive cutscenes, which this kind of is, but at the same time it still really feels like a game.
Whenever scenes occur in slow motion, players have to flick and swing the right analog stick in the direction that Jodie intends to move. So when her trainer reaches in hard for a jab from the left, flicking the right analog stick to the right would cause Jodie to dodge right. It’s the same idea for actual fighting. The camera will pan so that you can see where Jodie intends to punch, and by flicking the stick at the right moment, she’ll punch.
It took a bit of getting used to, but that was the idea. For every time I “failed” during the sparring session, one of the characters watching Jodie would quietly cheer her on. Eventually, as you get it, Jodie is sent off knowing she did a job well done holding her own in this fight.
The next portion of the game featured Jodie’s guardian entity, Aiden (whom she pronounces “Eye-Din”). The scene takes place on a train traveling through a very rainy night, and it puts you in control of Aiden while Jodie is asleep. You can mess around in the train by tapping on newspapers being read by people, spilling coffee and moving snack carts, but what’s essential here are the plot points. Eventually, cops come scouring the train in search of Jodie, and as Aiden it’s your job to prevent them from getting near her. Because I was still getting used to the camera, which is manipulated with the face buttons, I failed at protecting Jodie and she ends up being locked in one of the rooms on the train after attempting to escape.
When this happens, Jodie asks for Aiden’s aid, which you can do by pressing the triangle button to switch from Jodie to Aiden. It’s worth noting that since Aiden isn’t a physical person, he can go through walls and stuff like a ghost. So with that in mind, we possess one of the guards by holding onto the left shoulder button and pushing the control sticks toward each other (this takes getting used to), and eventually we take over the guard. So we make him open the door, allowing Jodie to leave, and then we head into another room and have the guard bump his head and collapse. Regaining control of Aiden, we break a window, allowing Jodie to jump out of the train.
Upon escaping the train, Jodie painfully bounces into a forest. Knowing what she did, the police continue to scour the area looking for Jodie. This scene was rather confusing because we didn’t know where to make Jodie actually run, but we made her run anyway. During this scene we had to push random command buttons to dodge and jump over obstacles in Jodie’s path in quicktime fashion. Eventually she gets chased by police dogs, and we have to use the techniques we got from the military training to fight the dogs off (this drew random boos from people watching me play, joking around about dogs in Call of Duty). After dealing with the dogs, Jodie climbs up a wall, again using quicktime functions, and the police lose sight of her.
Nearing the roadside, Jodie notices that it’s being blocked by police in search of her. So from there, we switch to Aiden, possess a nearby cop, open up the trunk of one of the cruisers to find a shotgun, and randomly shoot at the sky. This startles the other cops in the area, and while they deal with the lunatic cop, Jodie steals one of the motorcycles, triggering a chase scene featuring the bike and a police helicopter. After that, Jodie ends up being surrounded, but like a badass and with the help of Aiden’s force field ability, Jodie escapes by driving through everybody.
Shortly after that, Jodie and Aiden arrive at the city side where more cops await. Jodie quickly takes cover behind a car, but because she has no weapon, there was no shooting-behind-cover gameplay. Instead, we had to switch to Aiden, throw cars on top of cops, and possess other cops into killing each other. Before long, Jodie retreated into the building, but because there was so much stuff to do outside, I was unable to protect her and she ends up getting arrested.
But when we’re in that car, Aiden possesses a cop who then shoots the driver, allowing Jodie to escape and threaten the cop saying if they send anymore people after her, she’ll kill them all.
The demo featured at the GameStop Expo was, without a doubt, the longest demo I have ever played, and it was the most intriguing one at that. While this preview went into extreme detail of what to expect with the demo, it’s worth noting that a lot of what players do will lead to completely different outcomes. It’s not like Heavy Rain where you know where they come; in Beyond these decisions were very much unpredictable. What’s even cooler about all this is the fact that while I probably played for around 30 minutes, I still have no idea where the story is going to go.
Beyond: Two Souls will be released on October 8, and you can bet we’ll have a review when that time comes.