When Quantic Dream introduced Heavy Rain a couple of years ago for PlayStation 3, it introduced a cinematic vision that couldn’t be matched by most developers. With exasperatingly realistic-looking characters, tense situations, dynamic real-time storytelling and gameplay that required snap judgments (ala Dragon’s Lair, but with a modern twist), it really captivated those who played it. It left people wondering…what was next? Well, the company’s president, David Cage, revealed just that to us yesterday with Beyond: Two Worlds.
First shown Monday night in a prolonged trailer at the Sony pre-E3 press conference, Beyond tells the story of Jodie, a young girl who finds herself on the run from police forces for inexplicable reasons. They’re desperate to snag her, with a vicious SWAT team leader on the front of the assault. However, Jodie’s being protected by a second spiritual entity, “Eiden”, who you control through random parts of the game. Controlling the spirit, you can actually float around at free will, through objects and people, occasionally messing with items like water bottles and newspapers – if you feel like it, that is.
“Eiden” isn’t just a pain in the neck sort of spirit, however. Its powers can actually help Jodie out. There are times you’ll need to use this power to possess people, surrounded by a weaker red aura, which enables you to help her out in her time of need. For instance, at one point, you need to get her past a police checkpoint. To do this, you can possess a cop behind the wheel of a car, making him crash back and forth. While the other men are distracted, she can run across undetected. During another situation, “Eiden” acts as a shield, helping her bash through a police barricade with her motorcycle as the bullets bounce off.
You’ll switch back to Jodie at times as well, controlling her as she runs through the forest, fends off attackers (one sequence aboard a train in the pouring rain is spectacularly cool), and rides on a motorcycle while a helicopter stays in hot pursuit. The controls are similar to how Heavy Rain worked, with push-button and control stick prompts that must be hit at the right time. Jodie’s possible arrest doesn’t mean the game is over, however, as she can fight her way out of captivity and go on the run again. But for the sake of story, it’s best to hit the right commands the first time.
Beyond: Two Worlds features a number of improvements to Heavy Rain’s engine, with bigger environments, captivating weather effects, and way better character rendering – they’re actually more strikingly real than before. Leading the powerhouse performance team is a familiar American actress, as David himself asked Academy Award nominee Ellen Page to fill the role – in which she happily obliged. And she fits in right at home with the troubled Jodie, as you play her across a 15-year time span.
Beyond: Two Worlds is ambitious and thrilling at the same time, a game that will no doubt stand out in Sony’s game library when it debuts in 2013. Be sure to check back for more coverage in the months ahead as we learn more about Jodie and her plight with her secondary spirit. It’s quite a story.