E3 2012: What does the Beyond: Two Souls trailer tell us?
Words by Dave Harrison
Following on from the “Kara” tech video released by Quantic Dream back in March comes Beyond: Two Souls, a brand new IP. But what does the E3 trailer tell us about David Cage’s new project?
In contrast to most of the videos being shown at E3 this year, Beyond’s trailer is quite slow and sedate in pace and reveals very little about how the game plays. However, it does show off the new motion capture technology rather effectively, through the emoting of actress Ellen Page in the role we are currently being led to believe is the lead character. Through an interrogation with a police officer, we see her subtle facial movements come alive through the new tech in way that betters the previous benchmark of L.A. Noire.
But all is not kosher in the world of Beyond: during the interrogation, Ellen’s character (we are not given a name in the trailer) speaks directly to someone who is not in the room (proclaiming “I know, they’re coming”), and smashes a coffee cup against a wall through what we presume to be some kind of telekinesis – before a squad of SWAT troops arrive at the police station to hunt her down. After an unresolved climax where the SWAT team enter the interrogation room, we are treated to flashes of action that we presume will form the basis of the actual “game” part of the game. This involves attack dogs, petrol stations blowing up, what looks to be members of a SWAT team being possessed, a dash through a wooded area, a perilous chase on top of a train, and a helicopter exploding before our pleasant lass tells a dying SWAT team member to stay away or “next time, I’ll kill everyone”. Then she looks up to address “Ivan”, telling them they’ve got the message.
And that’s all we’re given at this point in time. Much like the interrogation scene that ends on an unresolved climax, we too are left in a position where many questions are posed and no answers are given. For instance, how will the action scenes play out? If Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream’s last title is anything to go by, then it most certainly won’t play as a standard action game, instead probably relying heavily on quick time events and analogue stick gestures that relate to the on-screen movements. Also, who is Ivan? As he appears to be a being with no physical form, is it an ethereal protagonist? Could Ivan, in fact, be the player? Perhaps we take on the role of Ivan, subtly guiding Ellen Page’s character non-directly through her ordeal. Is Ellen even the main protagonist? Perhaps we take on the role of the SWAT team hunting her down – after all, David Cage’s previous work has a history of throwing curveballs, from Heavy Rain’s surprise killer all the way back to Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Cage’s first game, where he mercilessly killed off the main character after 10 hours without any prior warning, making you carry on the game as a completely different person. And what about the subtitle: Two Souls? Are the two souls Ellen and Ivan, or is that a handy deception to cover the real meaning of the title?
All in all then, the only thing we can expect from Beyond: Two Souls is the unexpected – a wholly artistic endeavour from one of the most creative minds working in games today. Whether Beyond turns out to be the next step in videogame storytelling or an obscure curio of the French arthouse, it will certainly be interesting to see how the game turns out when it is finally released.
Beyond: Two Souls will be released some time in 2013.
Words by Dave Harrison (Twitter: @sealofmadness)