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Beyond: Two Souls Preview.

Beyond: Two Souls is the latest game from the fabled game studio Quantic Dream, behind 2010 hit Heavy Rain. Quantic Dream have seen wide praise for their games being powerfully cinematic and thematic in a non-conventional gaming sense.

The overriding question for gamers that are interested in Beyond is does it play like Heavy Rain? It will probably come of little surprise that Beyond: Two Souls is a similar stylized game to Heavy Rain with developed gameplay options but still revolve around the options used in Heavy Rain. But, that does not mean to say Beyond fails to sustain interest as it has tremendous potential to deliver a narrative on a similar scale to Heavy Rain.

The demo begins with the player able to control the central character Jodie when she is young pre-teen. She is being treated or monitored-take your pick in an asylum of some sort that specialises in looking after extraordinary beings. Jodie is one of those extraordinary people. She is tasked to demonstrate her psychic powers by sensing what another person is doing in another room adjacent.

Jodie is not psychic. She is tied to an entity being called Aiden in which he is a ghostlike entity that can relay data onto Jodie as well as do other things. After this section, the game skips forward after her time with the government and she is a drifter-travelling on a train and pursued by the police. After the police storm on-board, the player has to guide Jodie away from the clutches of the police. Cue a cinematic on-top train chase, and some taut moments.

The sense of when is a game a game and when is a game a film still resides with Beyond. It handles very similarly to Heavy Rain and the QTE moments are very simple-a flick of the right analogue stick is all that is required. It was a pretty simple demo if I am being honest devoid of any real gameplay and narrative direction. I imagine this analogue option will be better utilised (I hope). But otherwise, it was an on-rails demo that lasted for half an hour.

That doesn’t say I didn’t enjoy it-because I did. The voice-acting particularly from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe is outstanding. What is also outstanding is the level of detail in character modelling-an impressive feat for ageing hardware. The graphics are nice mostly-some flat textures and roughness. The story does have potential though. It looks to chronicle many themes so the game could be controversial in similar vain to Heavy Rain.

Overall, the demo was not the best representation of what is a very anticipated PS3 exclusive. It does look set to divide opinions as did Heavy Rain. Gameplay aside, the game looks solid in all areas. It looks to be a cinematic and thematic experience like no other….except Heavy Rain. I expect this to be a very good game with a great compelling story. The gameplay I do not hold high hopes for innovation but otherwise Beyond: Two Souls looks to be a dark horse to be one of the best gaming narratives of the year.

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