In October of this year, Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dreams is expected to release Beyond: Two Souls for Sony’s Playstation 3 game console. What makes the title unique is that it was designed from the ground up (like Heavy Rain) as not just a game, but something that treads the line between traditional gaming and a film-watching experience.
There has not been a shortage of games that attempt to bring Hollywood-style production values to games and, indeed, the two mediums have been borrowing from each-other for years, but what sets apart this new breed of interactive experience is the depth of story and emotional experience for the players– or, at least, that’s the intent. The number of awards Heavy Rain won for achieving that attests to the possibility.
This new effort from writer and creative director David Cage builds on the success of Quantic’s previous titles in this same genre. Each of these titles were also focused attempts at mature story telling over the typical shoot ’em up or high dexterity platforming. The developers knew that to ask that question properly and get game players to take the protagonists’ journey, they had to display production values, acting performances, and a musical score worthy of a film audience. After 10 years of trying to woo the appropriate talents to their vision, Quantic Dreams co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere recently told Eurogamer.net that he believes the “Hollywood difference” found within Beyond will be striking. The meaning of which starts to become clear to anyone that has seen the Beyond: Two Souls trailer.
Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page star in the game which, in this case, means the entirety of their performances are captured digitally to an unprecedented level of detail. The effect is similar to LA Noir‘s treatment of characters with their entirely human facial expressions and, indeed, there is no doubt that you’re looking at Ellen Page’s face from the trailer. Additionally, the late composer Normand Corbeil (who did the scores for Quantic’s previous two games) provides the score for Beyond.
Story-wise, Beyond: Two Souls tells the story of fifteen years in Jodie Holmes’ life. Jodie (Page) is a mysterious girl with seeming psychic abilities, and an “imaginary friend” named Aiden– the nature of whom is not entirely clear and that lack of clarity seems to be much of what the game is about.
Hollywood is. 35 minutes of game demo footage from Beyond: Two Souls was recently shown at the Tribeca Film Festival as a way to honor different ways of story telling– an honor bestowed on only one game previously: LA Noir.