Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls makes you part of the movie action

FORGET about Gravity's oxygen-expending drama, Pacific Rim's crushing robo-wrestling, World War Z's rabid zombie mayhem or the interstellar thrills of Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Beyond: Two Souls might just be the movie experience of the year.

But you won't be able to see it in theatres. Featuring two Hollywood stars, a reported $39 million budget and a script that includes 23 different endings, the PlayStation 3 exclusive release promises to be the closest gaming has come to providing an interactive movie experience.

Released this week and produced by the French team behind 2010's much-praised Heavy Rain, Beyond includes big-name actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in a globe-trotting, choose-your-own-adventure story with a script that runs to 2000 pages (an average 90-minute film might be about 100 pages).

That may seem excessive, but as Quantic Dream head developer David Cage puts it: "We wanted players to feel like they were in charge of telling the story through their actions."

Gamers play as Page's character, Jodie Holmes, through 15 years of her life as she searches for the reasons behind her link to Aiden, her spiritual soul mate who can be called upon for help during sticky situations.

Need to take out a guard? Aiden can do it. Want to use mind control over a Jeep's enemy driver? Give Aiden a crack. Need to wake Jodie up to warn her the cops are coming? Aiden can help do that, too.

Dafoe has a smaller role as Nathan Dawkins, a government scientist who becomes Jodie's surrogate father after being assigned to analyse her special abilities.

With the story mode running to 10 hours, decisions made during the game dictate how it ends. Cage says a lot of work went into making gameplay feel organic, evolutionary and interactive.

"After Heavy Rain, we wanted to improve (everything)," he tells TimeOut. "We wanted better graphics, better animations, better scripts, better acting (and) a better gameplay experience."

But it wasn't an easy game to make. Cage describes Beyond's three-year development time as "challenging" and admits he "feared that we just couldn't make it" because of its scale.

In the game's lead role, Page was also under the hammer, having to memorise hundreds of pages of dialogue in a process the Juno and Inception star has described as an "acting boot camp".

"It was very exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally for Ellen, because it was quite an intense shoot," Cage says. "It was very different to what she was used to. She had to move from one emotion to another very quickly."

Cage hopes Beyond might inspire more gamemakers to try to craft stories that go beyond violent shoot-em-ups with high body counts by creating something more "meaningful".

"With Beyond we tried to create an experience that would be a little bit more emotional and real than some video games out there, but there's still a long way to go to move away from games based on violent action."

The idea for Beyond's story came to Cage when he realised he could base games on real-life situations. Heavy Rain was about his relationship with his son, while Beyond is about the death of a friend.


New Zealand Herald

Beyond: Two Souls

Format: PS3 only

Available: Now

For fans of: Heavy Rain, The Last of Us, Silent Hill

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