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Beyond Belief: A Trip Through Quantic Dream’s Next Masterpiece

Fabio Santana's Avatar + Posted by Fabio Santana on Jun 12, 2012 // PlayStation.Blog Manager, Brazil

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Last week at the PlayStation’s E3 Press Conference, one of the highlights of the night was Quantic Dream’s David Cage stepping into the stage finally reveal his team’s next masterpiece. BEYOND: Two Souls for the PS3 impressed the crowd with its extremely detailed graphics and convincing performances of motion actors, including Hollywood talent Ellen Page. By now, you must have seem the debut trailer dozens of times and may have even checked David Cage himself coming to our stage live at E3, but unfortunately the game was not available on the show floor for the general audience to try. Luckily for us, we were able to witness the power of this interactive psychological action-thriller in a private session where Producer Ray Khalastchi from SCEE’s XDev Studio walked us through a 20-plus-minute demo running on a PS3 – in case we had any doubts that the game was high-tech smoke and mirrors.

The demo consisted of five areas connected by a gripping narrative, all of which showed off the game’s new graphics technology in all its glory, including the startlingly lifelike performances of actors achieved through full performance capture. Of course, many details of the story are being kept secret, but we managed to pull some tidbits from Khalastchi. “At this point in the game, Jodie is about 23 years old and has been on the run for two or three weeks from the authorities,” he explains, setting the tone for the demo we’re about to see.

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On the Train

Inside a train, Jodie Holmes is trying to get some sleep, wrapped in a hoodie to avoid attracting unwanted attention. We’re soon in control of Aiden, the ethereal entity she’s tied to – and you can immediately notice that spiritual connection, which is represented by a blue light thread linking the two. In first person (you never get to see Aiden’s appearance), you can wander the place with Sixaxis movements. Taking advantage of the fact you’re invisible to the other passengers, you can startle them by interacting with objects indicated by an orange glow. You can even cross the walls of the train to look at the heavy rain out there, but you can’t stray too far from Jodie – your view starts to blur and eventually go black and white. Aiden is bound to Jodie. “[Your view as Aiden] will also change based on what situation Jodie is in,” Khalastchi explains. “If she’s scared or in danger, it will impact your view.”

The train eventually stops at a station full of cops. You can go outside and try to listen to their conversation to find out what is happening, or you can just go wherever you want to – by the way, the police lights on a rainy night give an idea of the visual tricks the team at Quantic Dream is wringing out of the PS3. Anyway, it’s interesting to notice how you don’t “trigger” events with your presence, everything just happens in real time. People will carry on their conversation or whatever they are doing whether you are there or not, so you have to pick carefully what you’ll be doing.

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Eventually, two cops board the train and it’s immediately obvious that they are looking for Jodie. You have to warn her somehow, and you do so by interacting with the bottle near her to wake her up. Noticing the girl tries to avoid them, the officers realize it’s Jodie, and a chase scene ensues. You’re now in direct control of Jodie trying to make your way through the corridors. This direct control of the action sequence is something Khalastchi emphasizes, contrasting with Heavy Rain, where you would simply follow command prompts in action scenes. Not that you don’t have the usual on-screen commands to follow, and here they can also determine the outcome of a scene. “If I was to be caught, I would be arrested and I would be put in one of these rooms. I would have to find a way outside the train”, explains Ray. “You cannot get a ‘Game Over’ screen, the game always moves forward.”

Cornered inside a toilet, Jodie comes up with a plan: open the latch to the rooftop. But she’s not strong enough, so it’s up to Aiden to crack it open. On the rooftop, we’re again controlling Jodie directly, and we’re once more overwhelmed by the scene before our eyes: Jodie moves carefully through the wet floor, her clothes soaked by the pouring rain, swinging with the strong wind, the lights of signposts occasionally remembering you of how fast the train is moving, and Ellen Page’s expression of anxiety giving an unsettling sense of danger.

The girl tries to get around the police officers who are also climbing to the rooftop, but is surrounded by three of them. A brutal fight follows, but despite getting hit by some blows, Jodie seems to know how to get rid of them. “For this part we had a martial artists group that came to do the choreography and motion capture session”, adds Khalastchi. “Then we took that data and applied to the characters in the scene.”

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Noticing the cops are still coming at her, Jodie jumps out of the train and, upon successful command inputs, Aiden protects her with an ethereal shield so she can land safely.

At the Forest

“Are you telling why she’s so skilled?”, we ask. Khalastchi just smiles and shakes his head negatively, probably happy to leave us with this piercing question. Jodie is now in a forest area, rising from the ground with an expression that mixes relief and fatigue. But soon after she begins moving away from there, a helicopter lights the area and searchlights comes in her direction. Furious with their tenacity, the girl curses and darts into the forest.

While dogs bay in the background, Jodie tries to overcome trunks and branches – again, under a combination of direct control plus Quick Time Events. “If you fail repeatedly”, I insist, “can Jodie die?” It’s something that kept hammering my mind, because in Heavy Rain you would sometimes have to live with the tragic (and permanent) consequences of your actions. “No, she can’t die”, assures Ray. “But the story still continues in the context of all that happens. She can get arrested or get knocked down and wake up later.”

Jodie builds some distance between her and the cops, but still can hear them not very far from her. With direct control over her, you begin running in every different direction in search of a way out, and it soon becomes a desperate hunt for an exit. “Jodie is lost. You are lost. You don’t know where to go, so you’re trying to find your way around. We really wanted to make you feel like you’re lost.” Yeah, it definitely works.

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The dogs catch up with her and a battle between Jodie and nature takes place. “Did you guys motion capture dogs too?”, I jokingly ask, trying to alleviate me from the tension caused by the ferocious scene. “Actually, yes,” answers Khalastchi with that confident smile of someone who means it.

After getting rid of the dogs, Jodie manages to climb a rock wall and hide from the cops bellow. Then, while they are pointing their lanterns around in search of her, comes my favorite scene: the camera closes in on Jodie’s face and you can clearly see the benefits of marrying the latest in motion capture and graphics technology with an Oscar nominee of the caliber of Ellen Page, as you can see the expression of fear in her excited eyes, while raindrops stream down her bruised skin, her hair plastered around her still panting face. “Are her bruises dynamic?”, I ask after seeing how she gets injured after so many brushes with danger. “Yes. For example, when I jumped out of the train before, if I failed to shield her properly, she would be in a much worse state.” Poor Jodie.

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At the Barricade

Jodie escapes the guards and is now by the side of a road, where there’s a barricade. Controlling Aiden again, you check the situation: there are three cops, two cars and a motorbike. The producer explains the meaning of the colored auras surrounding every people: white is neutral, orange means the person can be possessed and red indicates someone who can be choked. And it’s all contextual.

Khalastchi goes to the officer by the bike and possesses him, gaining direct control over him. Our guide them makes the possessed guard mess with one of the cars to distract the other two. I noticed from a previous play session that he made something different to pass through this area. “Yes, in this very instance, you have two options”, explains Khalastchi. “After possessing the guard, I can enter the car and drive it back and forth, or I can get the shotgun in the back of the car and keep shooting to the air. Either way, the other cops get distracted and give Jodie the opportunity to go around and get the bike.”

“Even in the small sections, we’d like to give you a little bit of choice. It may have no difference in the outcome, but if you choose what to do, it feels more like it’s your story.”

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On the Bike

“Here we are in control of the bike, whereas in Heavy Rain it would have been like ‘hit R2 and watch her drive away’.” And again, the PS3 hardware easily handles the kind of lighting and effects on the screen as Jodie drives the bike at a rainy night. And we’re curious as to how they’re balancing between giving you control and telling you an authorial story. “We’re still trying to give you as much control as possible while still keeping it cinematic, keeping control tightly and, you know, keeping story intact.”

Being chased by a helicopter, Jodie is trapped when she reaches a bridge guarded by a S.W.A.T. squad. With Aiden’s help, she breaks through the blockade and reaches a nearby town.

At the Town

The chase comes to its climax at the front of a theater. “In this final part of the demo, it’s almost a sandbox of Aiden gameplay. There are lots of different things you can do,” explains Khalastchi. And he’s not kidding: while Jodie is cornered behind a car, you control Aiden and search for people to possess or choke, or explore various environmental interactions. You can control a sniper and kill his teammates, take over another soldier on the ground and command him to shoot nearby officers and himself, throw a grenade with yet another officer and cause a massive explosion, flip cars and… blow the fire hydrant? “Some things you can do are not useful.” Reminds me of drinking milk in Heavy Rain…But then, it’s all in the name of interactivity.

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As time goes on, the S.W.A.T. team is closing in on Jodie, which means they get in range of some hazards and in Aiden’s range as well. You can make a clock tower crumble upon some soldiers, which highlighted a curious detail in the game: you can actually see their spirits coming out of their bodies and rising into the air.

After helping Jodie get inside the theater, you can possess the helicopter pilot and cause the ultimate destruction, which leads to the closing scene of the debut trailer: Jodie walks to the S.W.A.T. leader and menacingly yells: “Tell them to leave me effin’ alone, because next time… I’ll kill everyone”. And, walking away, she calls Aiden and says “I think they got the message”.

By the end of the demo, we were totally blown away by the graphical and narrative qualities of BEYOND: Two Souls, and also looking forward to going hands-on with the game at a later date. There are still plenty of details we don’t know (PS Move support? “It’s something we’re looking into,” says Khalastchi), but it’s exciting to see how Quantic Dream is ahead of the technological race. After this brief demonstration, we can’t wait to find out what lies beyond.

//Add Your Own

47 Comments   1 Reply

1

+ MarinoBrea on June 12th, 2012 at 11:02 am said:

I can only imagine what Quantic Dream will do on PS4. Actually, I can’t.


2

+ NATHANNAEL on June 12th, 2012 at 11:03 am said:

Looks awesome. I can’t wait for this game to come out. I enjoy Heavy Rain a lot so I’m sure I enjoy this one as well.


3

+ C98976 on June 12th, 2012 at 11:05 am said:

wow amazing


4

+ IzoGray on June 12th, 2012 at 11:07 am said:

Nothing like some sexy Ellen Paige action


5

+ Naustradamus on June 12th, 2012 at 11:32 am said:

2 things I want …

1. Release date
2. PSN release of Kara … not the video, but the ingame cinematic demo

Other then that, very exited! Heavy Rain was a very unique game and a very compelling story. After the game, I had to go on youtube to watch someone’s play through of indigo prophesy. I’ll be sure to platinum this game as well when it comes out!


6

+ luvtoseek on June 12th, 2012 at 11:45 am said:

Awesome read, Fabio! Much appreciated!

@5, do you have a USB stick? Just head to Youtube w/ Firefox (use that “download” add-on), select the highest res., & transfer the file from your PC to USB stick to PS3. You can usually do the same w/ that Content App from Sony if you have a Vita (transferring the vids/music from your PC, I mean).


7

+ luvtoseek on June 12th, 2012 at 11:47 am said:

@5, wait, I thought there was only 1x video of Kara? :?


8

+ lisatsunami on June 12th, 2012 at 11:48 am said:

Fabio, I didn’t know there was a Brazilian blog so that alone is good to know.

Watching E3 I couldn’t help but notice that most of the great, innovative games are coming from the French. What’s up with that? And by “French” I’m including French Canada. Beyond & AC Liberation were my 2 wow moments from last week.

A definite pre-order!


9

+ Naustradamus on June 12th, 2012 at 12:05 pm said:

@6/7

I’m not talking about the video file …it was a recorded video from the game/demo running in real time on PS3

what I want is that game engine demo … I want to see Kara running in real time on my PS3. That’s what I want :)


10

+ D-Squad3 on June 12th, 2012 at 12:15 pm said:

Vid…


11

+ luvtoseek on June 12th, 2012 at 12:41 pm said:

@9, I think I understand- do you mean a version where it’s not in CGI?


12

+ Naustradamus on June 12th, 2012 at 12:49 pm said:

@11

Yup. Ever download the killzone 2 bullet trailer demo from the PSN store?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk3SOI9l2kY

It was released on the PSN store as a real time app

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2009/04/02/killzone-2-behind-the-bullet-interactive-demo-available-today/

So that’s pretty much what I want for Kara


13

+ Profane-lite on June 12th, 2012 at 1:00 pm said:

So is the gameplay going to be similar to Heavy Rain (ie, fully reliant on quick-time triggers)?


    Fabio Santana's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on June 12th, 2012 at 1:36 pm said:

    From the post: “You’re now in direct control of Jodie trying to make your way through the corridors. This direct control of the action sequence is something Khalastchi emphasizes, contrasting with Heavy Rain, where you would simply follow command prompts in action scenes…..[later on] “Here we are in control of the bike, whereas in Heavy Rain it would have been like ‘hit R2 and watch her drive away’.”

    I haven’t played it myself, but it sounds like you have far more direct control and that the Quick Time Events are downplayed. I’ll try to find out more!


14

+ igorrocks2 on June 12th, 2012 at 1:01 pm said:

ашкые ыусщтв игн!


15

+ igorrocks2 on June 12th, 2012 at 1:02 pm said:

Firsyt send buy!


16

+ M-Easy on June 12th, 2012 at 1:07 pm said:

I cannot wait for this.


17

+ Lugans on June 12th, 2012 at 1:15 pm said:

@8, There’s a Blog, but there’s no content, the store doesn’t have old items, the prices of the majority of the retail games are almost the double and goes on.

@5, AFAIK Kara is only a tech demo and not a game, it was quoted here on the blog.

@ Topic, I’ll buy on day 1.


18

+ AJC3317 on June 12th, 2012 at 1:36 pm said:

can’t wait for this! but please don’t waste time and resources on putting in move support


19

+ NoWay on June 12th, 2012 at 1:43 pm said:

theres a 23 minutes video on youtube (dont know if its still available) of the private session…
I get why they dont want to show everybody the footage but if its going to end up on youtube anyway they should make sure its with great quality.. too bad..


20

+ Kchow23 on June 12th, 2012 at 1:49 pm said:

Would be great if we got a video instead of having to read words… Much like Heavy Rain, far better to see it in action than reading about it and it would even better to go hands-on also :)


21

+ Kchow23 on June 12th, 2012 at 1:50 pm said:

Any update on getting the Kara video on PSN? I know that all the rave is on Beyond, but that tech demo was stunning also.


22

+ LegendaryHero4 on June 12th, 2012 at 2:13 pm said:

I’m personally not interested.
I didn’t like the main character and it felt too, psycho.

I like Ghost Whisperer, The main character, the stories and everything.
I like the action in this game (Beyond), the tension, the drama, the emotions.
And Sony should continue to work on theses aspect.

But I don’t like the character. Maybe they can make it better?
Btw, she called out her ghost Aiden, it’s the same name has the son of Melinda of Ghost Whisperer…


23

+ anasazi_pr on June 12th, 2012 at 2:22 pm said:

Heavy Rain is one of the greatest games I have ever experienced and this looks like it will surpass it. Is a 2013 release date too much to ask for this one?


24

+ MP_is_for_Chumps on June 12th, 2012 at 2:25 pm said:

I dont understand why Sony can show gameplay to the press at E3, but deems paying PS3 customers unworthy of seeing the same content.

It’s also strange that PSN is always the last place to receive trailers for PS3′s biggest upcoming games, when your customer base should actually be the 1st to know.

…..

@Kchow23
You can downland KARA from the UK PSN :)


25

+ andrewsqual on June 12th, 2012 at 2:25 pm said:

@11 Clearly you don’t lol. KARA is not CGI. It is a cutscene using an updated version of Heavy Rain’s engine. What Naustradamus wants is a download of this demo that would sit under the Game section of your PS3, you load it up and it starts the Kara Cutscene but you might have complete control of the camera or a little bit. And you could turn off textures or shaders and the like. Go to the playstation store and download the realtime demo of the Killzone 2 advertisement to get an understanding. BTW I would love this too. :)


26

+ eaglefan129 on June 12th, 2012 at 2:32 pm said:

I hope what evidence of the Kara demo goes in to the final product because creating that tech demo seems like a waste of time and money to me.


27

+ wtGp on June 12th, 2012 at 2:37 pm said:

I love Quantic Dream, they know how to make great stories.


28

+ MP_is_for_Chumps on June 12th, 2012 at 2:52 pm said:

@ eaglefan129

I’m a kinda disappointed Beyond isn’t sci fi like KARA. I knew KARA was only a demonstration, but i was hoping the next game would at least be futuristic -__________-

and i’m sorry but this elanie page chick is butt uglez. The honey from Heavy Rain is a much better piece of ass :(


29

+ Sephir007 on June 12th, 2012 at 3:03 pm said:

The graphics of this game are amazing and a great example of what PS3 can do with good programming, thank you, I’m looking forward for more of Beyond!


30

+ luvtoseek on June 12th, 2012 at 3:10 pm said:

@24, yep, when I first saw it months ago, I thought it was CGI. After watching again, it states that it’s a new engine by QD.


31

+ GGCAN on June 12th, 2012 at 3:11 pm said:

Looks great.

Are they planning any segments with the Move like Heavy Rain had ?


32

+ PhillyPhreak on June 12th, 2012 at 3:44 pm said:

And the 2013 GOTY award goes to… *drum roll* BEYOND: TWO SOULS!!


33

+ L1ftedResearch_ on June 12th, 2012 at 4:25 pm said:

Best looking game for 2013 so far.


34

+ DMcgee627 on June 12th, 2012 at 4:49 pm said:

Never heard of this movie before. Is it a straight to DVD release?


35

+ Sean_Pierce on June 12th, 2012 at 5:39 pm said:

C’mon make a Quantic Dream HD Collection already. For Omikron The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy. It’d make a great release in the hype of the soon-to-be-released Beyond.

By the way this game looks amazing. Hoping that there will be PlayStation Move support. I really enjoyed it with Heavy Rain, seems like it was a game made for motion controls.


36

+ eddiehalen on June 12th, 2012 at 6:43 pm said:

Another awesome game coming to PS3! =)


37

+ Lokz01 on June 12th, 2012 at 7:01 pm said:

So you control a ghost. creepy but creative


38

+ cjmc18 on June 12th, 2012 at 7:33 pm said:

Day 1 buy


39

+ Hooligantuan on June 12th, 2012 at 8:26 pm said:

Didn’t we already see Ellen Page in The Last of Us?

:D


40

+ JG4Horrorshow on June 12th, 2012 at 8:56 pm said:

This is a revolution of gaming media. I will be eagerly and patiently awaiting more info.


41

+ DevanGelic on June 12th, 2012 at 9:08 pm said:

(Disclaimer: These are just my opinion and thoughts, so shut your pie-hole if you feel the need to argue. But I am openly interested in hearing an-others opinion and thoughts if they don’t try to convert mine)

I haven’t played or seen much gameplay footage for the ‘Heavy Rain’ title. But I’ve had enough friends tell me it is a MUST buy. I’d rather play it as a download title than a retail title though, so I’m in limbo until that happens (wink wink nudge nudge) (Had my hopes up with the demo, but no PSN full download follow-through).

As for the title ‘BEYOND: Two Souls’, I hadn’t even heard of it until E3′s jaw-dropping trailers. This will be a DAY ONE buy for me regardless of retail or PSN download.

Thanks for putting in all the effort and going BEYOND into making this game :D


42

+ DevanGelic on June 12th, 2012 at 9:08 pm said:

As for the actress; Ms. Philpotts-Page, I’ve been an interested audience-member of her career since ‘Pit Pony’ and am looking forward to seeing (I guess now it’s rather: being) her latest performance.

My only doubt about the game, is not really about this game itself. It’s more about Ubisoft’s up-and-coming title ‘The Last of Us’. When it was first announced in trailer, I jumped onto these blogs to find so many other people with the same question. “Was THAT really Ellen Page!?” And now with this game ‘Beyond’ being debuted, it makes me question Ubisoft as a company. As if maybe they got a whiff of what you were doing and decided an un-official fiat-accompli, or rather a ride-on the coat tales. But who knows what evil lurks in the heart of marketing decisions; Not even the Shadow, I’m sure.

Either way. Bringing a household-named actress to the screen via a game is, to me, will always the better choice. So I will be buying ‘BEYOND’ day one. and am on the fence about ‘The Last of Us’ atm. If anything, I kind of feel that if I do get their game, it’ll be a token buy at best.

Take care, blessed be bad and all that eye-candy rolled into a nice bowl of ramen.


43

+ DevanGelic on June 13th, 2012 at 12:55 am said:

*Correction: Not ubisoft! Meant to state Naughty Dog.


44

+ overkills on June 13th, 2012 at 1:31 am said:

Thanks a lot Fabio this game gonna be awesome and unique


45

+ SanFranPsycho415 on June 13th, 2012 at 5:25 am said:

If this is just another long movie with Quicktime events like Heavy Rain, then thanks,… but no thanks. If it’s an actual game, then I await the actual gameplay videos.


46

+ PathosVerdes75 on June 13th, 2012 at 5:55 am said:

Guys, here’s a “leaked” video version of this same preview:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrcjjn_beyond-two-souls_videogames


47

+ StarFoxMania on June 13th, 2012 at 6:36 pm said:

hello Mr. Santana. I have a better idea

why don’t you tell us the whole freaking story, or how we will play: get into train, ride a bike, and more please….so by the time the game comes out we already know everything and the element of surprise is zero ,…. or if not zero, much smaller than it would have been, had you not posted this.

I am super disgusted at the HYSTERICAL MARKETING MACHINE that the video game industry has metamorphosed itself alla Franz Kafka’s book. It’s all about money now. Even the most artistic daring projects will be be pre-told by this machine now.

Let me tell you something about Uncharted 3. Was it a bad game? No, I don’t think so. Did it feel like a bad one? Most definitely. Anything that happened in the game, I was like, m’eh yup I’ve seen this, then next scene yup this one too, oh yes I remember this interview, oh and this next part is from that blog text entry,… this one was in a magazine, this next one on g4TV. For the love of gamers….

If this is too much sarcasm for you, oh sorry did I spoil something?


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