Trying to put into words what Quantic Dream is attempting to achieve with Beyond: Two Souls is even more difficult than attempting to decipher what the title is about. With the subject of the afterlife, the soul and the nature of living being posed to the audience. This game can push the medium of gaming and cinema further into a similar realm. Heavy Rain was a tremendous game and stands out in recent memory as a game that truly blurred the boundaries of gaming and film. Not only in terms of advancing technology in facial animations but also in storytelling. However, there were some critics in regards to the general (or lack there of) control scheme. So this leads to the impending debate. Does Beyond: Two Souls need to integrate more traditional style gameplay?
Why should gamers truly care about traditional gameplay in this type of game? TellTale‘s The Walking Dead episodic story was a bit more interactive in the first episode then tapered off as the story progressed. It received critical acclaim during the last Spike Video Game Awards including Game Of The Year. The experience and story in these games takes precedence over anything else. The controls are done in a way that does not get in the way of that interaction. The formula that Quantic Dream put forth so far in their games has been lauded, so there is no point to burden the game arbitrarily with elements that are not needed. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is the general mantra that is both a blessing and curse in this industry. On one hand, the Madden franchise continues to pump out the same game year over year with subtle differences while Bioshock Infinite is very similar to its Rapture counterpart yet is different, awesome and memorable. Beyond: Two Souls will likely fall into the latter category.
However, the game does appear to adopt more game-y elements since the entity attached to Jodie helps navigate and guide her throughout her life. Solving puzzles by opening doors and clearing obstacles are some of the mundane tasks that will be relegated to Aiden. In one gameplay trailer we see that Jodie somehow finds herself traveling through a ruined and smoldering facility. Aiden needs to assist her by manipulating objects not in reach of Jodie. This involves rolling a fire extinguisher her way in order to douse flames in a passageway or fixing a jammed elevator door so that she can call it to her floor. The interactions are all fairly simple and are hardly innovating. But when it comes to these games, it is the context and story behind these actions that make the game.
Other than Telltale Games with The Walking Dead IP, no one else in the industry is attempting what Quantic Dreams shoots for with their games. In an age when gamers are inundated with first-person shooters and rehashes of popular yearly installments of sports games. It is refreshing to witness the rebirth of adventure games like these with a more mature focus. Gamers are going to pick up this title once it hits store shelves, there is no doubt about that considering how well Heavy Rain sold. When they do, they will approach this Quantic Dream game with an open mind and excitement for what’s to come in its narrative. This game does not fit the traditional mold we have been conditioned for, and seeing an inventory screen or a level up announcement would be blasphemy. That is something that gamers will need to accept. Beyond: Two Souls does not play by the rules. And in a industry that takes the safe bets, that’s awesome.