During San Diego Comic Con this week, I was able to play the “Somalia” demo of Beyond: Two Souls on the Playstation 3. While there was much that excited me, there were also aspects that I was a little disappointed in.
The demo plants the main protagonist, Jodie Holmes in the middle of a dangerous mission which serves as a look at her character’s experiences as a CIA operative. A young Somalian boy named Salim is quickly introduced as Jodie’s counterpart on the mission. Salim’s presence is quite shocking because although he is an adorable and small little boy, he’s also carrying an assault rifle that is almost as big as he is. And he’s not afraid to use it. It’s unclear how the two met but Jodie does mention that she saved his life and he, in turn, eventually saves hers as well. It sets up an intriguing story that raises more questions than it answers, but I dig it. You go, David Cage. You go.
Graphically, Beyond: Two Souls is incredibly impressive. The landscape was detailed and realistic and the character animations were spectacular. Facial expressions are captured beautifully and Jodie looks amazingly like Ellen Page (insert The Last of Us joke here?). Even from the demo I could gather that the voice acting was going to be phenomenal; on both Ellen Page’s part and even her adorably dangerous counterpart in the demo. Because of their language barrier, Salim and Jodie rely more on physical communication and the intense motion capture is evident during their interactions.
Jodie is able to access her spirit companion, Aiden in combat. It’s a rather interesting concept and kind of fun. You can utilize his mind to take out enemies by choking them, possessing them, etc. Jodie utilizes this when she’s pinned down in a fire fight. It’s a promising aspect of gameplay that I’m eager to see more of.
I’m fully aware that this is still a demo, but with the release date so close, I just hope that it was an earlier demo version as there were some troublesome gameplay kinks that needed a little work.
For example, when crouching, Jodie has some maneuvering issues. It felt like her range of motion was hindered and the x axis of her movements are far larger than her frame would suggest. Trying to move around while crouching just felt clunky and would find myself having difficulty making it through doors even when her body appeared to fit through just fine. Damn you, child bearing hips! Damn you to hell!
Quick time events were reminiscent of Heavy Rain’s and anyone familiar with those prompts should feel pretty at home with Beyond: Two Souls. Depending on what you desire in gameplay, you may feel a bit hindered in combat as a result- be prepared for that press and hold system.
There were instances where combat prompts depended on moving your right analog stick in a specific direction to dodge or attack. When you are shown the direction in which to move it, this is a perfectly fine prompt. Unfortunately, at least in the demo, you’re expected to just know which way to move your analog stick after the initial introduction. I found that some of the situations proved to not have a clear directional specification. And as a result, Jodie got her ass kicked… hard.
Based on the demo I would buy the game for the experience but would have to expect some frustrating gameplay issues related to prompts. In a likeness to Heavy Rain, gameplay is going to be somewhat linear. You’re going to be limited to the options that are given to you, but your decisions will have a substantial role in the progression of the game. Hopefully the issues in the game will be or have already been tidied up before its release.