'Beyond: Two Souls' Finds Itself At The Crossroads Of Gaming And Cinema

October 8, 2013

People across the world have always wondered what happens to us when we die, what lies on the "other side," and if ghosts exists. Sony's latest game, Beyond: Two Souls, from the respected development team at Quantic Dream, attempts to create a universe that answers some of those questions. Using cinematic storytelling, superb technology, and unique gameplay, Beyond: Two Souls lets you experience the life of Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page), a gifted young woman that's tethered to an entity that isn't part of this world.

Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

With only a small handful of games under their belt, Quantic Dream have solidified a name for themselves as one of the most unique, and technologically advanced studios in the industry. Their games Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain helped push video games forward as a more cinematic medium, creating deep experiences through well-constructed narratives that allow players to connect with the characters on a more emotional level than most games. Beyond: Two Souls builds on the recognition that the studio earned with the critically acclaimed release of Heavy Rain by offering up a more robust experience while retaining the cinematic qualities of their storytelling.

The developers at Quantic Dream created an entirely unique interactive experience with Beyond: Two Souls. The game tells the story of Jodie Holmes, a young girl with paranormal gifts, one of which is being tethered to an invisible entity known as Aiden. Jodie can control Aiden (most of the time), and the player switches back and forth between the two characters depending on what the gameplay scenario demands. Jodie exists entirely in the real world, and can interact with everything in it. On the other hand, Aiden is on a separate of plane of existence, and can pass through walls, only being able to interact with certain things while tethered to Jodie. As you play through the game you experience Jodie's life in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth from key points over the course of fifteen years, which starts before she is institutionalized and studied by the Department of Paranormal Activity (DPA). As the game progresses, you begin to unravel the mystery that surrounds Jodie and Aiden, and discover just what makes them so special.

Given the quality of the visuals, and the extent to which Quantic Dream pushed the tech, there's only one console that Beyond: Two Souls could appear on: the PlayStation 3. You can pick up the game at retail this week for $59.99. If you want to take your Two Souls experience beyond your PS3, you can also download the Beyond Touch app for your smartphone (both for iOS and Android) to replace your controller, and interact with the game using just the tip of your finger.

Jodie Holmes has a way more interesting life than you do, and it's not just because of her paranormal gifts. Her journey of self-discovery takes her places that you could never dream of going, but Quantic Dream helps take you there and back. There are sequences in Beyond that are entirely unique to gaming, unlike anything you've ever played before, and you need to experience them firsthand to truly appreciate what this game brings to the table. Even the action sequences that look like they could be part of another action game feel different in Beyond, and it's not just because of the simplified (and occasionally frustrating) control scheme: there’s clearly been a great deal of thought that’s been put into how to make this game feel unique. Quantic Dream created some of this year’s most intriguing characters, and gameplay that lets players determine what happens to them. Even on the cusp of a new console generation, Beyond is one of those games will not soon be forgotten, and it will leave an impression on whomever dares to play it.